Community Always Fails

January 4, 2022
by Matt Stannard

I’ve been re-learning this every few weeks for the past 3.5 years trying to figure out how to make deep community work:

When fallout and acute (unproductive) interpersonal conflict occur, it’s because the system failed; everyone’s needs and experiences were valid, everyone could have done better.The way we become better is complicated and things that we think work often don’t work or are counterproductive.

Pointing out to people that we are doing something wrong is often counterproductive EVEN if it’s done deliberatively and with a careful process and EVEN if we say we want it and in some instances EVEN if we appear positively changed by the criticism.

Understanding where other people are coming from and acknowledging that their needs and experiences matter as much as yours — that’s really really hard, harder than we ever think, and there are a thousand lies we tell ourselves with our own minds and egos around that effort.

There’s a lot more obviously, I’m not trying to explain (trauma, oppression and hierarchy, biology and neurology) this, just name it. It’s ever-present.

And I’m not talking about cases of bad faith, where someone never intended to try and make it work, although that sometimes happens in community too. I’m saying even when everyone is trying their best, things sputter all the time and often break down altogether.


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