The Māori name, “Waka Kotahi”, means “one vessel” and is intended to convey the concept of “travelling together as one”. Even though we all have an individual path, these paths are all layers of the one path of human experience. Even though we may be traveling to different destinations, we all end up at the end of our lives at the same destination.
I think that this is the component of community that I love so much. We don’t have to be at the same place in our lives, have the same culture, the same beliefs. What we focus on is the things we have in common. The differences are what makes each of us unique and special. Because our differences don’t have to the thing that pulls us apart, they can be the thing that holds us together.
It is our differences that bring something new to the table that can help each of us in the community come to a challenge in our lives with a new answer on how to handle it. I posted earlier on FB a commercial I found on TedX with men in wheelchairs playing basketball. At the very end of the commercial all but one man got out of the wheelchairs and walked out off the court. When I look at that commercial through the lens of “one vessel” it really opens up the meaning of the word friendship into a whole new place.
I thought about possibilities of what those men who played full out learned about themselves and each other. I thought about how they might spark ideas around creating new or different kinds of wheelchairs, around residential and commercial buildings being built different for everyone; about vehicles being modified in some way and on and on….., things that would never have happened if their friendship hadn’t created the possibility of including their buddy in a basketball game.
Community isn’t about everyone agreeing or changing to match some “social norm” that someone has decreed. It is about fully accepting each individual as they are, and seeing how each of us can contribute from our own unique place. I look at the dance community – they have so many styles of dance, ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, bollywood, disco, ballroom (which in itself has many different styles) – street dancers are always coming up with new styles of dance, some of which catch on. No one is killing someone over the fact that their style of dance is superior and should only be the one dance style allowed to be performed.
We are all traveling as one “Waka Kotahi”, so let us create a commUNity that really expresses that belief. What do you think?