What makes a community?

People of like mind choose to work together to create an environment friendly to their desired way of life. It requires teamwork and some tolerance of different views, but if the people disagree more than they agree, it is not a community.

A town is a larger form of community. A city can be composed of many communities, since the chances of all its inhabitants agreeing on everything are slim. But even a population as diverse as is found in most cities tend to adhere to some agreed upon standards.

Likewise, a state is a confluence of cities and towns and communities wherein the citizens try to agree on some unifying standards.

A nation is a larger state. With each expansion of people, the things that make a community are less cohesive, but they still exist. Laws are passed by representatives of the majority and adherence to those laws gives the nation an identity. The laws are intended to ensure compatibility to a set of standards that make a community. If a nation had no laws, there would be no unifying purpose – no sense of community.

There will always be some people who choose to defy some of the laws. Even if the majority agrees, some individuals will not. But, for the most part, the people in a nation accept the moral, cultural and legal precepts that define the nation. For those who are born there and do not accept these standards, life can be difficult. Some will emigrate, but that is not an option for most.

When people do decide to leave the confines of one community to relocate to another, we might assume they would seek to relocate to a community that better meets their standards. If their new home does not offer the lifestyle they seek, we might also assume they would choose differently. Apparently, we would be assuming incorrectly because many people leaving their old country are so desperate to leave that they don’t choose all that carefully. Will they be happy in a community that does not share their cultural standards or agree with what they think the law should be?

If we were heartless and uncaring we could say, “That’s their problem”. But isn’t it also a problem for those who have created a community that these newcomers have decided to inhabit?

On the one hand, it seems charitable and humanitarian to say that everyone should be free to live wherever they wish. But in that same vein, is it not reasonable to protect the rights of those who are already there – who have worked to make a community of their collective choosing?

Borders do more than define a geographic region. They ensure the right of people to live as they choose among people who, although they may not always agree, share enough commonality to live in relative harmony.

A world without borders would be a world without communities.