Can we create new communities?
But, we can all reflect on a personal level about what the word community means to us, as individuals. We can recognize and acknowledge the fact that online communities aren’t the same as real-life communities, and decide for ourselves how we want to interact with each. Many people will say that the religion can only be practiced in real-life settings, with face to face interaction. Indeed, in terms of ceremonies and rituals, most of us who identify as Lucumi believe this absolutely true. There’s no replacement for the relationship between godparent and godchild. No one can practice the religion in total isolation. Most of what we do ritually and ceremonially involves at least two people, and often more. And we must absolutely be connected to our ancestors and the ancestors of our godparents, our egun of blood and stone, who led us into the religion and who make our spiritual evolution possible. There is no replacement for a real-life community, and people who are without one need to make a serious effort to find or create one for themselves. Not an easy task, by any means, but there’s no way around it.
Is there a solution?
I don’t have to say much about the down side of technology. We all know what that is. It opens to door to charlatans, scammers, crooks, abusers, people who are fishing for vulnerable ‘catches” who will pay them a lot of money for phony services and supplies. It creates larger than life personalities who try to become major “influencers” when their own knowledge of the religion is slight. What they don’t know, they make up, and that does a lot of damage by spreading false information or misunderstandings of religious principles. It also allows people to hide behind onscreen personalities and lash out at others, create drama, sow dissent and dissatisfaction, and generally stir up trouble by “trolling” forums for a reaction, to set a war in motion. We’ve all seen these trends, and it has turned a lot of elders off Facebook forums, because it’s simply not worth the effort to combat these bad behaviors online.
So, what are your thoughts about “communities,” online and otherwise? Who is your community? How did you find where you belong? What do you think your duties and obligations are to other community members? Do online communities add anything meaningful to your life? I’d love to hear your input. You can post to OUR community forum on facebook – LOL, yes I use the word community on facebook, too, to refer to those who are reading and thinking about the topics we discuss here. Hope to hear from you. Click here to go to the facebook group. .