Thursday, June 02, 2011

Community and communication

There are many communities.  There are political communities, communities of friends and family, storytelling communities, work communities and those that thrive all have something in common:  good communication.  Without communication everything would fall apart, crash.  Take the community of the road as an example. This might be the best to examine how communities can survive or die with communication.

Those funny things people call blinkers on motorized vehicles have another name: indicators.  Aptly named, they are designed so we can indicate what lane we changing to, or to let others know we are turning.  By using indicators we are communicating with other road users, telling them what are intentions are.  It allows others to act accordingly, such as slowing down or giving extra space.  Likewise brake lights help those behind us know we are slowing down for some reason or another.  It could be that there is something in front of us that needs to be given time to move out of the way, or something is blocking the road.  We are letting others know what is going on.  By using safe signals we are telling others our intentions so they can react.  If everyone did this and did it in a timely manner (not one blink once you have crossed from one lane to another for example) the roads are a safe place to travel; it is a less stressful trip.  But when people brake late, turn without indicating, or drive erratically we have a stressful, unsafe journey.

Life is like this no matter what the community.  If we talk and let people know what we are doing or thinking, it allows others to join in and have a good shared experience, or can help someone in crisis.  If we leave our indicating too late we create a stressful environment.  When we have to go somewhere I try to get off the computer well early because I know time can fly by when using it.  Then I can give 15, 10 and 5 minute warnings - get folks ready for whatever we are doing without the last minute - "okay kids, time to go, RIGHT NOW!"  Then we rush, get in the car, are tempted to speed and everyone is stressed.

Next time your are thinking of doing something, or having a bad moment, or get in your car: use the indicators, brake early and drive safely for a better shared experience.