Newsletter – April, 1999

**Companion Resources Newsletter**

edited by Paul D. Leichty

Volume 1, No. 4 April 1999

“Community begins with a companion walking alongside.”

Sometimes people comment about the name “Companion Resources.” There are many different associations with the word “Companion.” What does companionship have to do with community?

I’m convinced that we as individual human beings cannot actually _create_ community. Community is a gift that comes as we give of ourselves to God and to each other. However, we can be a friend or a companion. We can be a person who walks alongside of another on life’s journey, one who shares the joys and struggles of life. If we give our lives to walk alongside even just one other person, we open ourselves up to the life-giving gift of community.

This is particularly the case when we become a companion or a friend to someone with whom most people find it difficult to form a relationship. Folks who are marginalized by society, who need special care and attention, who are lonely or confused, or who are even “anti-social” are often persons who most need a companion and a community. To create the climate in which these persons experience community requires a special effort on the part of others to reach out and be a friend.

I had to think of this even in the context of the horrible school violence this past week in Littleton, Colorado. Certainly the two young men who committed this horrible act needed others to reach out and be a friend. I’ll say more about that below.

Is all companionship good? Is all community good?

From what the news media tell us, the two young men in Littleton, Colorado who killed 13 people and then themselves felt alienated from their school and community. Their response was to form a type of companionship with each other. They even sought out a community called the “Trenchcoat Mafia” that would give them a sense of power and control over their destiny.

However, this type of companionship merely reinforced their self-centered tendencies. It led to bitterness and a desire for revenge. Their “community” of choice was a community fueled by violent images, bent on the destruction of the larger community from which it was alienated.

Companionships, communities, and whole societies can become demonic when they are fueled solely by self-centered interests. For any community to survive and have life, it must continually reach out beyond itself, reach out in the best interests of others. In the aftermath of the violence in Littleton, Colorado, many persons echoed the words of the President of the United States when he said (as reported by CNN), “We do know that we must do more to reach out to our children and teach them to express their anger and to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons.”

Yet, most sadly, it is at the very heart of this larger community, our North American society, where our children are learning that violence is the way to get what they want. Violence is glorified as entertainment to the extent that even a retired army officer, Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman, says that our video games are actually training young people to kill the same way the army trains its personnel. (To read more go to http://www.christianity.net/ct/8T9/8T9030.html.)

Then also, as the president spoke, his orders to rain down bombs on Yugoslavia remained in effect. The deeds of our leader do not match the rhetoric. When words did not produce the desired result, the U.S. government used the most sophisticated weapons it could find. Instead of reaching out and building community by finding the solutions that will meet the needs of others, we as a society are doing the same thing that we deplore in both Kosovo and Littleton. In the end, although played out on a much larger scale of time and history, we are also committing suicide as a community.

Community never comes through the shortcut solutions of violence. Violence is by its very nature built on self-interest and is destructive of community. It is only through the struggle to reach out in the best interest of all people that community happens. That is a lesson we can apply to any aspect of our lives.

******

If you would like to receive more information related to peace and Christian community, MennoLink offers the following discussion groups:

menno.org.peace

Discussion and suggested Christian responses to situations of conflict in the world.

menno.org.cpt.news

News from Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) who try to be a presence for peace in hot spots around the world.

menno.org.cpt.d

CPT’s discussions and reports about actions related to ongoing world conflicts.

To join any of these groups,

see the instructions at http://www.mennolink.org/email

or send a message with a line like

subscribe menno.org.peace

to server@MennoLink.org.

All of these groups are sponsored by various organizations and can be received free of charge.

If you appreciate this newsletter, forward it to a friend and encourage him or her to subscribe. Don’t forget to check out all the links and resources mentioned in this newsletter, plus much much more. Go to the Companion Resources home page at https://companionresources.org. If you don’t have web access and want to know more, drop me a note, and I’ll be glad to help you!

So long and don’t forget…

“Community begins with a companion walking alongside.”

Paul D. Leichty

Companion Resources

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