A community perspective

Published 9:56 pm Wednesday, October 31, 2018

By QuaWanna Bannarbie

There is an expression we use often that suggests “there is strength in numbers.”

This saying has many meanings. No matter what its use, I believe the bottom line is that in comparisons, power and influence is often attributed to the group, cause or individual that has the largest numbers standing together. In most cases, we think of winnings or combined success. Rarely do we consider that there is strength in numbers in a negative sense. However, truth be told, the idiom works as well for good and potentially for bad.

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On Saturday, I experienced a personal mindset shift regarding strength in numbers. I planned to volunteer at the fall festival planned by my church, Covenant Community Church. The sky was gray, and the chance for precipitation was low but still relevant. I was inwardly grumbling about the inconvenience and downright nonsense of moving forward with this planned event during inclement weather.

I left the house to head to the church, and I didn’t have the best attitude. Although I was wearing a raincoat, I realized after I arrived that I wasn’t dressed appropriately for the event. There was drizzle in the air, the wind was blowing, and we were getting wet. I was cold, and so were many other church members who were also helping. As we continued about the business of arranging tables, tents and games, I noticed my pastor was walking near the flagpoles in front of the church. He was looking up to the sky. I immediately thought, “Pastor is praying.”

Pastor had a vision for that day to be an event for the church and the community to come together. When I saw him looking up at the flags whipping back and forth in the wind, I was immediately convicted about my bad attitude and I was reminded of the vision for the fall festival. Even though we were all present to help, if our attitudes spoke damnation to the event, we would not see the event’s success. I realized negativity in numbers is just as impactful if we continue to fuel it with more negativity. Pastor’s stance to press forward with the event meant that he was positive that the event would successfully serve the community. At that moment, I saw the importance of many people working toward a vision with a communal perspective. So, I made a decision to turn around. I went back home and got warmer clothes for myself and my children. On the way back to church, I saw clear skies near my home and praised God that things were just passing over. By the time the event started at noon, the drizzle was gone. It was still cold, but the weather did not threaten our enjoyment. The festival was well attended, and we had a great time.

Community perspective is impactful. Do you remember the Bible story of the spies that Moses sent to observe the land of Canaan in Numbers 13? Moses selected leaders from every tribe to send a representative to spy the land. They came back with a positive report about the land, but yet their individual perspective threatened their ability to possess the land. These same leaders spread lies to encourage the other Israelites to see themselves as “small as grasshoppers.” Those who were afraid to take Canaan knew that they had to gain more people on the side of the lie than on the side with Caleb. Caleb and Joshua were the only spies of the 12 who believed that Israel was more than able to conquer the land.

The influence of wildly spread negativity is common. In just a few days, on Nov. 6, we will see the result of strength in numbers in a very real way. Candidates are running against each other to win the largest number of supporters. But whether to support a cause or a community is often at the center. The former, the cause, indicates people working together around a common vision. The latter is a common people inspired to work to gather.

I challenge you to consider your voting next Tuesday on who is best for the job is based on the community at the center. Until we have leaders like Joshua and Caleb, we will lack strength in numbers and continue to believe the lies of candidates who are just gathering supporters around their own agendas. The measure of your community is proportional to your mindset.

QuaWanna Bannarbie is an adjunct professor of nonprofit leadership and management with Indiana Wesleyan University, National and Global. Her children attend Suffolk Public Schools. Connect with her via Twitter @QNikki_Notes.