Community Before Activism


“Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honour.”


The path to bringing justice into our broken world does not start with activism—getting involved, educating and inspiring, giving money. It starts with people in relationship with one another. It starts with community. And communities that are healthy are gatherings of individuals who are willing to “do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honour.”

Jean Vanier—a philosopher, peacemaker, and theologist—asks fundamental questions about “being human,” like: What does it mean to be fully human? What does it mean to serve others well? How can unity be fostered among diverse people?

He suggests that, “A community should not be primarily a grouping of shock-troops, commandos or heroes, but a gathering of people who want to be a sign that it is possible for men to live together, love each other, celebrate, and work for a better world and a fellowship of peace.”¹

Thus, today my fight for justice starts not with activism, but with my willingness to make peace and keep peace with those closest to me. Only then will my advocacy have credibility, because it is rooted in the very “healthy, robust community” that my advocacy is meant to achieve for others.




1. What do you believe is the essence of community? What elements should be present in a “healthy, robust community”?

2. What does it mean for our advocacy to have credibility?

David Freeman is Vice President, Canadian Ministries for the C&MA in Canada.

¹Vanier, Jean. Community and Growth. Griffin Press Limited: 1979, p. 179.

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