On the Importance of Being Part of a Group

“No man is an island entire of himself.”

We sure like to pull things out of context sometimes. We also like to pull people out of context. This quote is pulled out of context. It has a deeper meaning than you probably know. I never knew the full quote until just now and it goes perfectly with what I want to say.

My point is that groups and communities are some of the most important things in our lives. Maybe they are the most important.

It isn’t right for us to be alone. We live in community. We thrive in community. We are born alone and we die alone, yet while we are on this Earth we are in community.

Community helps bring meaning to our lives. Working and playing with our fellow human beings is what brings the most meaning to our lives.

We seem to be preoccupied with what group we are in too. Some people feel like they can’t belong to a certain group because they aren’t good enough. Many people come and go in organizations because they are too “clique-ish”. Meaning that they are too well defined and tend not to let new people in without first having them pass the often unspoken test.

We use groups to exclude but we also use groups to include. It is a good feeling to be part of a group. To define yourself in a way you feel comfortable with and enjoy.

We define ourselves by race, creed, nationality, occupation, religion, abilities, hobbies, skills, etc. There are many ways to define ourselves and surprisingly, if we think about it, it mostly has to do with grouping.

This can’t be understated or underestimated. As much as some of us hate being “labeled” we do it to ourselves all the time. When asked what we do we answer our occupation. You are labeling your own self by your occupation and thereby defining a large part of yourself. This is how humans operate. And it is perfectly acceptable.

Why is this important?

To quote a famous song, “Everybody needs somebody, sometimes…”

Although Thoreau’s idea of Self-Reliance is a worthy objective, it is something that is achieved over time and not in totality. We are meant to rely on our fellow human beings from the day we are born. No baby can take care of itself. Although we are much more self-reliant as adults we still have to rely on others.

This is important to think about and realize because it comes down to acceptance and love.

We learn to accept each other for who we are, limitations and all. This opens up the chance for us to help each other and not let pride get in the way. I openly accept that I need help in some areas. I also accept that I excel in areas that other people need help in. When you accept this you can begin to realize that it is not prideful to accept help or to give it. It is just how we live best in community.

So you can click the author to read the full quote, but I will give you the end of it to make the final point. Maybe you will find it interesting to know that two oft-quoted quotes are actually one…

“…any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” – John Donne

Find the communties that you can best belong to. Learn to both give and take graciously. This is what helps make the world go round…

Comments

  1. I tend to avoid the whole group thing, but this post definitely made me think differently. There is something great about being part of a group. Thanks for sharing this!

    http://positivelypresent.typepad.com

  2. Nice post. I believe our desire and ability to seek out groups is natural; choosing healthy groups as opposed to unhealthy groups can sometimes be the hard part.

    Mark Lewis’s last blog post..I’m Not an Expert

  3. I do enjoy your use of the English language.. The whole group thing, I think, is overrated. There are people who can never become part of a group, and its’ not that they don’t want to be, but perhaps rather cognitively cannot. The group concept is foreign to me. For example, I am a member of an Autism Society. I joined because of my two boys, both whom have Asperger’s. I was, at the time looking for information about Autism. I could not, and cannot connect with many of the members in the group. I honestly feel they don’t “get” me, and I don’t “get” them. As parents, that should be the common bond, right? Children on the spectrum. But it is not. I believe there are times when we do seek out others, be it individuals or groups, to commiserate, or share, or whatever. But the majority of ones’ life is spent alone. That is reality. Our brains are capable of handling that, conversing with ourselves, perhaps sharing with a spouse, friend, or BLOGGING to the masses. Our hearts however, may be looking for more, if we cannot provide what we need for ourselves to function independently of each other. I personally don’t care if I ever am accepted as an individual.. that is too much to ask anyway, with all the differences in our society. I spent most of my childhood trying to be accepted, and you know what? Who really cares. Who cares what anyone thinks of you anyway? Acceptance of YOURSELF is the key.. and only you are able to do that. The group acceptance might help yourself esteem, but in the end, you go home, to your house, look at yourself in your mirror, and need to love what you see. No group will ever be able to that.

    linda degus-barns’s last blog post..SPD MOM: Aspergers & Being Different

  4. I think the group thing is good.A lot of people don’t realize they are an important part of a group.
    You have you friends you see on a regular basis – your acquaintances,clients and people you see at the gym and yes your on-line buddies.
    A lot of people may say they are a loner but they really need to look around and see who are the people that are always there for them.
    Great article Jeremy.
    Keep up the great work:)

    Bunnygotblog’s last blog post..Planes, Trains, & Automobiles

  5. Hi All,

    This seems like a subject that not many people think too deeply about. I appreciate all your comments! They give me a different perspective on things and help me think about this subject more. As such, I do plan on writing a follow up article next week on it. I do hope you guys will check it out and comment on that one as well.

    Cheers,
    Jeremy

  6. More often than not I have found groups become exclusive. They tend to turn inward and I find this stifling and even pointless. Groups are important but they shouldn’t be exclusive. I prefer following ideas or philosophies that put me in contact with individuals who may or may not be part of a group. A mentality of exclusivity is usually followed by a sense of superiority. I don’t like it and I don’t feel good about myself when I am part of it. I’m sure there must be groups of individuals who follow a different way but I haven’t come across them yet.

    I wonder if this happens in the Kingdom of Blog?

    A most thought provoking article – thanks.

    Paisley’s last blog post..Keeping Up With the Flashy Blogs

  7. Wow. What a post. It’s funny… I always say “I’m an island” but really I know I’m not. I have an amazing support system (both online and off) so I’m not sure why I say it, or actually feel it. Strange creature, I am! LOL

    Fabulous post, Jeremy. I’m stumbling this one!! :-)

    *smiles*
    Michele

    Michele’s last blog post..Tropical Traditions (Certified Organic) Virgin Coconut Oil GIVEAWAY!!!

  8. Hi Jeremy,

    I agree, most everyone loves to be part of a group. I think that may be why online forums, chat rooms, social media sites and blog communities become so important in a person’s life. If they don’t feel included in a group in real life, there’s always somewhere in cyberspace where they will be welcomed…. and in most cases, not judged.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Addicted To Blogging – It’s No Joke

  9. My offline group is small, but tight-knit. It’s composed of individuals I consider “high quality”, and I think I get more, emotionally, out of a few people than I would with a larger offline group. Online, though, the group expands — but the emotional connection is not as intense.

    Miranda’s last blog post..P2P Lending Could Come to Banks

  10. Hi Jeremy,
    I have had my very best friend who is like a sister to me for over 28 years.We were ankle biters in the hoods.My other best friend I,have known for 11 years we were both BEANER’s.(BU and Harvard med).We know things about each other we will take to the grave.Crazy times!
    I had a pretty large group of mixed friends in Chicago.We always had each others backs and we really opened up the doors to different experiences together.Like volunteering at the nursing homes a full Saturday.Good times.
    On line you can meet all sorts of fine people.People you have similar interests.Sharing idea and debating at times on issues.That is one thing I miss about the Chicago gang.
    Back to the on-line thingy, It is great to read and support people.Unit so to speak with so many interesting people you would never had known existed other wise.
    People are important no matter how long the stick around they always seem to leave a part of them self with you.
    I am a group person-

    bunnygotblog’s last blog post..Life With Mother

  11. Jeremy

    Interesting topic. Personally I think belonging is a fundamental human need and we have so many possibilities available (most of is do anyway). I notice I come in and out of groups – sometimes for a day, other times for years. It’s part of my meaning in life.

    IMO, belonging as part of a group is not a problem until we start to attach part or all of our identity to the group. This kind of identification tends towards a path of violence as we try to protect the boundaries of the group – by keeping people in, stopping people join or attacking (in whatever way) people who are in different groups.

    Many of the world’s conflicts can be traced back to this attachment of identitiy to a particular group.

    Ian | Quantum Learning’s last blog post..Curse of the lightning brain

  12. I think the book Outliers: the Story of Success really addressed this issue very well. Though we tend to think each person attained success in a vacuum, in reality, there are dozens of “groups” that contribute to each person’s success.

    Groups can be families, a circle of friends, current or former classmates, current or former co-workers, peers in the community or church, or even a city. We are all a member of many groups.

    Ron’s last blog post..8 Reasons to Ditch Your Cell Phone Insurance, Unless You’re A REAL Klutz

  13. Hi Jeremy,

    As mentioned, we need to be part of a group as human are not meant to be alone for a long time. However I believe we need to have a balance between self reliance and being in a group. Anything tend towards the extreme certainly isn’t good for us.

    Cheers
    Vincent
    Personal Development Blogger

    Vincent’s last blog post..50 Ways To Make Yourself Happy

  14. Currently its trend to be in Group. you said right Communities and Groups becomes part of our Life, most like quote of your post all importance of Communities and Groups in One sentence “Everybody needs somebody, sometimes…”

  15. People are better where in the group. it doesn’t mean that we can’t live alone. Others makes us important

  16. From personal experience, it is important to belong to a group. I’ve been on my own for a long time. Sometimes I don’t feel accepted and a majority I feel used. Sometimes it is easier to be on my own but it does hurt. I’ve been focusing too much on my blog and web business, if you only focus on that and that doesn’t work, you’ve lost your life. Balance is important.

    It is vital to belong to something. In order to feel happy and sane.

    This is a very good article.

    James King’s last blog post..Why new media?

  17. Humans are indeed meant to be a social species. Funny about the island quote, If you end up stranded on an island with no other… you will go crazy without companionship. It’s a great topic that of groups .. social networks, and the power of connection, and seclusion by hubs and groups. A sociological phenomenon.

    Joey Logano Fan’s last blog post..Rookie Profile at Dover

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