Oikeiôsis is the Ancient Greek word meaning belonging. The concept of the human need to feel belonging was first theorized by the Stoic Zeno of Citium. To the Stoics Community was everything. Buddhism uses the term Sangha which roughly translates as the “group” or “community” of practicing Buddhists.

Community is also important to us. As social beings we all need to belong to a community where we can contribute and be valued. No one really lives in isolation by choice. To be part of the group is in our make up as a species. We need each other to survive and to flourish and from that need civilization emerged, grew and persists.


One World

The importance of community in the recovery movement is expressed through the pillars of fellowship, unity and service. People come together to share and to learn from one another. By helping others we help ourselves in the process. We understand that sitting alone at home may work for some people some of the time but true progress is made when we join with others in a common purpose. Through others we come to learn that we are not unique but share common problems, hopes and fears. We begin to realize that it is our similarities that bind us together and our diversity of thought and opinion that makes the community resilient. From that we find the strength to recover.

To be Jedi is also to be part of a community. Jedi are active participants in society. They are neither cloistered Monks nor Hermits seeking perpetual solitude. At times we all seek solitude and time away from others to recharge. Once ready we are ready to take our place among others and participate, share, learn, work and contribute in our own way. This is in our nature as human beings.



Sometimes it is easy to get pessimistic about the world around us. Society can seem hostile or indifferent. People often feel disconnected and alone in the world. A person may have thousands of Face Book friends but no one they can lean on and trust. We can create an online persona and profile which attracts thousands if not millions of followers and admirers and still feel lonely. Some of us feel alienated in the real world and eventually in the online realm as the hostility and toxin that pervades it forces us to disconnect even further.

Many of us live in sterile suburban neighborhoods where we live behind locked doors and barely recognize the neighbors let alone know their names.  We commute in cars to work in a sea of traffic feeling disconnected from, if not frustrated with, the blank faces in the cars around us. We sit or stand on trains or in waiting rooms our eyes fixed on our phones, not speaking, not making eye contact.



In the Netflix Documentary “Happy” (2011) we see people living in supportive communities in Calcutta and Copenhagen. Despite the enormous gap in wealth between the two cities there is an undeniable “sameness”. Both communities are close knight, supportive and non-competitive. The members of different families and generations live together communally, share responsibilities and look after each others kids. There is a strong sense of belonging and unity which is increasingly rare today in general.

These people are among the happiest alive. The normal indicators of happiness and wellbeing; gross domestic product, employment rate and housing indices do not apply to these people. The strong sense of community is what makes these people feel happy and fulfilled.


The Odd Ball

I would be the first person to admit that I am not and never was the most sociable person. Being a strong introvert means I can be quite happy standing alone at a party without engaging anyone. Acutely aware that I was a quiet and reserved type when I was younger I naturally wanted to be liked by others. Alcohol was the remedy which allowed me to be gregarious, outgoing, funny and friendly. Drunk, I became approachable and my awkwardness was replaced with a confidence and a cocksure attitude that won people over and made me friends. Over the years I kept going back to booze and never really learned how to just be myself and connect with people on a deeper level. By the time I hit forty I realized I had all the social skills of a man in his early twenties, if not his teens.


Lost Soul

Being alcoholic is to live in a delusion. To find recovery is to see the falseness for what it is. The illusion of social acceptance and community which alcohol creates becomes apparent. We think that we “fit in” but we realize that we don’t. People who we thought were friends turn out to be nothing of the sort. Our own motivations with people become clearer and we realize they were selfish and self centred. We used people and prized things.


Getting sober we realize the relationships we had with people outside of our sphere of drinking, professional and personal, was often dishonest and sometimes abusive. Along the way we have hurt and damaged those we care about. If we are honest with ourselves we realized that we lived on the fringes of community, never in it. We did not really belong. All of this had to change if we were to truly recover and take our place in society.



Being in recovery and becoming sober has forced me to re-evaluate my place in society. I have come to realize how easily I could have ended up in jail, dead or in an asylum had I continued. In recovery we learn to re-enter the community and find our place and purpose. The attitude of entitlement and “special treatment” that we used to demand in abuse is gone. We realize that in life we must earn our place and make our way without expecting dispensation because we are somehow “special”.


The community is about the whole not the individual. By being part of that whole and contributing in some small way we start to feel belonging in a real sense.


Find your Place

Most of us are not in a position to move in to a commune or co-housing arrangement where strong community is fostered as in “Happy”. There are still a number of ways we can improve our connection with others and feel part of our broader community:


  1. Embrace your identity and what makes you unique.  Also look for the common humanity in all people. Very often we find our community is divided along ethnic, religious, racial, nationalist or social class lines. We flock to those we most identify with, those with whom we resemble and share the most in common with. There is nothing wrong with identifying with a group or ideology but we must be careful not to shut out others simply because they seem “different”. This enforces the identity mindset, victim-hood mentality and “us and them” culture which pervades society today.   We have more in common than we think.
  2. Be kind and compassionate; this extends from the previous point. We should respect and treat all people the same. Humans respond well to kindness and compassion, it is a universal language common to all. Donating to local charities and supporting local businesses is one small way we can express care for others.
  3. Be prepared to help. Offering our time and skills as volunteers brings us closer to the community. You may find a particular cause or charity which appeals to you. Organisations that deal in disaster relief and emergency aid will register people who can assist in times of crisis. Even just being willing to respond to a request for assistance, where safe, is being Jedi. Those in recovery know the benefits of being of service to others.
  4. Get active in issues that concern you; whether it is a social justice cause, the environment or a local issue such as better public amenities and services there are many ways to get active. People can organise petitions, attend public meetings, form online groups, write letters, submit public comments on projects and proposals and participate in rallies and protests. Even just participating in public surveys and voting is getting involved.
  5. Join community groups; sporting and recreational, social and cultural clubs. Finding and meeting with common minded people who enjoy similar interests builds a strong sense of community.


The Circle

Stoic philosophy challenges people to consider themselves not only members of their community and country but citizens of the world and cosmos. The “View from Above” exercise is used to remind us that we are part of a whole which extends far beyond ourselves and our immediate circle. The Circle of Hierocles was drawn more than 2500 years ago to depict cosmopolitanism. The ancient Stoics word for “belonging” to community was oikeiôsis. The ancients saw themselves as belonging not only to themselves but in expanding concentric circles, their family, city state, country, the world and cosmos.


The Circle of Hierocles  (Source: https://howtobeastoic.wordpress.com )


We should take the time to broaden our perspective as human beings. Every action and choice that we make has a broader consequence and reach than we imagine. By understanding our place in society and our role in the community we can live more mindfully and in accordance with our nature.  We become connected with the whole.

A View from Above Meditation by Donald Robertson




One World

The Jedi believed that the Force was a kind of universal consciousness that manifested itself in life. Obi-wan Kenobi in a “New Hope” described it as  “an energy field that is created by all living things. It surrounds us; it binds the galaxy together”. In Star Wars, the idea of a unitary system is often imagined. The Force was seen as the spiritual and natural balance regulating the order of all existence in the Universe and beyond. The reach of the Force transcended the physical plane in to the spiritual spheres, creating a bridge between life and the afterlife. The Force binds life together as a community.

Star Wars is obviously a work of fiction but does offer a parable to the real world. If we look at the Star Wars mythology we see how the Force, the fictional archetypes and the greater community of life interacted as a whole. The struggle depicted in the Star Wars saga is one between unity and disunity, balance and imbalance, light and darkness.


“The Force is an energy field that is created by all living things. It surrounds us; it binds the galaxy together” – Obi-wan Kenobi


Our physical form is limited. We live but a few decades and most of us never travel far. In our generation at least few people will venture outside of Earth’s orbit. Our reach with people is also limited despite the advances in technology. We might be able to reach the masses through social media but we actually only ever meet and get to know so many people. We will only ever get to reach a minuscule fraction of those that live. Most of us will also realize that we only have a few intimate friends while the rest are acquaintances whom come and go.

Despite our limited reach we have a natural sense of belonging to something far greater than ourselves. We look at the stars in the milky way galaxy and feel a deep connection as if we are looking back in time to our own past and destiny. A sense of the spiritual can be felt when we consider the enormity of the cosmos and the span of time. We are conscious and alive and the mystery and purpose of life pulls something deep within us. We also feel part of the global community, a unique member of humanity.

In our lives we are constantly reminded of our identity. We are given labels that assign us to a race, a country, an ethnic group, a sexual orientation and a religion. We are tuaght to seek out and identify with our tribe and we build walls around us to protect what it safe and familiar. All of these labels are human constructs that have evolved over time to enable the survival of one group over the other. The division that boundaries create lead to the separation and estrangement of  one human from another. In fact all of the differences that exist are mere illusions. All people essentially have the same hopes and aspirations and all people feel the same pain and suffer the same fate. We are all part of an indivisible humanity.


The Star Wars universe represents a “Galactic Cosmopolitan”. The sentient beings that resided within the reaches of the Galaxy were seen as citizens of one large community. The same constructs and problems that plague our world also plagued the Star Wars Universe. There was conflict and hatred between different star systems and confederate groupings of planets.

The role of the Jedi was to bring a resolution to conflict and peace to the Galaxy. The Jedi wanted to restore balance to the Force. Each of the myriad of intelligent life forms represented were seen as part of a whole. While seeking unity, the Jedi also sought to preserve the identity and freedom of self expression of the individual. Perhaps George Lucas was trying to hold a mirror to the world through his work. Through the parable of Star Wars we can see vestiges of our own society, how we are and how we could be.

The word “cosmopolitan” comes from the Greek literal meaning “citizen of the world”. The Ancient Greeks did not have the same level of understanding of the cosmos as we did but they understood the concept of a universal citizen. The Stoics took this further and while they understood that a person could be patriotic and loyal to their tribe they could also welcome all people as fellow humans sharing the same nature. City States and Empires went to war and the Stoics fought in these wars but they never saw their enemy as less than human. The Stoics looked past the apparent shallow differences between people and saw the common rationality and humanity that still exists in all people.

The United Nations was originally built on the premise of unity among people and nations for the betterment of all. In many ways the UN has failed in its mandate and continues to fail being a victim of old bureaucracy and pulled by vested interests. So have our leaders. As individuals, as Jedi, we can still do our part to foster unity and partnership between people. To do so is to express the Force and our own humanity.


One Family

The 12 Step program is a good example of grass roots unity between people. We are all seen as sufferers of the same disease. Political opinions are absent, in fact the traditions exempt the fellowship from siding with one opinion or another outside of the fellowship in order to avoid controversy and conflict. In the fellowship we are all the same regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion or sexuality. We all have a shared experience and a common history and we all desire the same thing. In a way we are members of the same family. We are made to help each other.

Imagine if the world was like that; a true global community? If all nations could put aside their differences and embrace our common and shared humanity war and poverty would be rare. If all people began to work together and truly care for one another the world would be a far better place.


Reach Out

Most of us live in a bubble. We are surrounded by family and friends that are familiar to us. We keep close to home. Some of us get wander lust and break out of the bubble deciding to travel and open ourselves to new experiences. Those that reach out in to the community and volunteer or work with people can also appreciate the idea of “one humanity”. This is all it takes; a willingness to step outside your comfort zone and to get to see and understand how others live. Be willing to help the person who comes seeking help. Act in small ways to make the world a better place through gestures of kindness and compassion.

There is less of a difference between people than we are sometimes led to believe. Fear keeps people apart and drives a wedge between them. It should not be that way and it does not have to be. Look past your current horizons and reach past your boundaries, be ready to help your fellow human. We are all in this together and our survival as a species depends on it.