Diversity in the community is a necessity

Community brings together people of very different temperaments. Some are organized, quick, precise and efficient; they tend to be defensive and legalistic. Others are open, flexible and love personal contact; they are less efficient-to say the least! Others are shy and tend to become depressed and pessimistic. Others again are extraverted, optimistic and even a bit exalted. All these opposites together create the wealth of the community.

Communities are a great mixture-men and women, single people and married couples. THis is precious and vital. The men and women we welcome sometimes have deep emotional wounds. They need maternal and paternal models.

The mixture of people which is found in communities can bring growth or bring difficulties. Some people are single, and they fall in love in the community and cannot take the distance they need from each other to see if this is real love, which will lead to marriage, or a love which has grown from loneliness.

Some people have emotional difficulties because of a lack of love in their own childhood; they can confuse their search for the security of a parent with their search for a husband or wife.

Communities can be much taken up with questions about what is permitted sexual behavior and what is not. We forget the fundamental questions: what is the final goal of humanity, what are its essential activities and what is the meaning of human growth? We forget to ask what makes for true growth in love.

There is a movement today to suppress all the difficulties between man and women. We seek equality in everything: women want to become priests and men want to stay at home and look after the children. It is certainly still true that men tend to see themselves as superior, powerful, strong and intelligent and tend to relegate women to a subordinate place. There is something shocking about men who spend their time and money in bars while women raise their children. We can understand that when men behave like this, they are trying to prove their virility and putting all their energies into external things-like physical strength and the ability to use this to dominate. Women are often more internalized and, by the fact of child-bearing, much closer to the reality of love and the world of emotions.

But men are in danger of fleeing their own vulnerability and capacity for tenderness. They seek a wife-mother and the very quickly, and like small boys, they reject her because they want their freedom.

A man has to grow into mature relationships with women, to get beyond the stage of mother-child or seduction-revulsion. This means he has to discover his own identity as a man and the dangers inherent in it.

Women have to find their balance too. They must neither reject their femininity to seek masculine power, nor envy the masculine capacity for organization. They have to discover the wealth of their own femininity, the power they have in their weakness and their ability to attract and sometimes seduce men.

Men who hold responsibility in their communities can be jealous of their own vision. There may be women in the community who are more intelligent than they are, more sensitive in their discernment and more sure of their own purpose. The man in charge can reject these women because he feels it would be a sign of weakness to admit that they have a truer vision and greater discernment than he does.

When men and women refuse to work together, it is chaos. When they do work together, it is a community.