At our Special Olympics Board Meeting this morning, we continued exploring the idea of a Dignity Revolution that is focused on uniting and inspiring people in communities all around the world to move us in a more open, inclusive and tolerant direction.
A related question that got me thinking was posed at the Board Meeting: What community are you a part of?
I answered that St. Monica, my local church, is a community to which I belong. It’s the place where I feel welcome and at home. I also belong here in Athens for the Special Olympics World Summer Games. Even though I’m far from home, I know I’m exactly where I should be — amongst this community of people who are working to build a more accepting and just world. The millions of members of this community are among the most joyful, open, kind, welcoming and tolerant people I’ve ever met. It’s a community where everyone aims for their personal bests so that they can inspire their peers to do the same. This is my kind of community.
I found it interesting that when a small gathering of us later met with His All Holiness, Bartholomew, the Archbishop of Constantinople and New Rome, he spoke eloquently about the blessings that come from being a part of a community. He also remarked about the power of community to promote the “sacredness, uniqueness and dignity of all people.” He said we are all independent and unique individuals but that, because we belong to a community, we are also “dependent on God and each other.” In a strong community, His All Holiness noted, we will “carry burdens” for each other, “help and support” each other to “resolve our common problems” and provide opportunities for people to experience “dignity and equality despite their limitations.”
His definition of community reminded all of us gathered in that room of the global community that has been created through Special Olympics. We were all so moved by his words, and it really was the perfect message to leave with us as we prepare to open these games tonight.
Now it’s your turn: Where do you belong? What community are you a part of? What does community mean to you?