First and foremost, what is a value?
Think about what you value as an individual. Perhaps the first things that pop into your head are family, relationships, charitable services, or your business. Anything that you might consider integral to what makes you you is a core value. Each of us has our own set of core values, and larger groups and companies often operate under their own set of guiding core values. Communities, as well, can define and follow their own sets of values!
The Seven Critical Community Values
According to Management Sciences for Health (MSH), there are seven pillars of every successful community around the world. This isn’t to say that a community can’t operate effectively while one of these pillars suffers, but an efficient, supportive community would be wise to make each of these values part of their focus.
Solidarity: unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group. – Oxford Dictionary
As with any group, teamwork is extremely important. A collection of individuals cannot work towards a common goal if there is no cohesiveness. When solidarity isn’t a main focus for businesses and communities, these groups often find that it takes far too long to achieve goals and that the group as a whole tends to get distracted easily.
Maybe the songs by Otis Redding or Aretha Franklin pop into your head when you read about this core value. Fundamentally, respect is something that every individual deserves – there’s no need for us to debate that. As a community, however, it is even more important for us to all treat each other with respect. This will ensure that everyone feels important and useful within the community; in turn, community members will feel further empowered to contribute and give back.
#3: Forgiveness & Reconciliation
Humans are imperfect creatures. We are not defined by our mistakes; however, we will be judged by how we respond to our mistakes and others’ shortcomings. A little forgiveness goes a long way to hold a community together. There will be brokenness along the way – we are a community of humans, after all. Reconciliation is the glue that holds us all together and propels us forwards, regardless of the circumstances.
There will always be a need for justice as long as humans remain imperfect. A lack of justice encourages unjust acts due to a lack of retribution. While we often think of the term justice from a law enforcement perspective, it also has other implications.
If something is considered “just,” it means that the situation is fair for as many people as possible. Within a community, it is important that the consideration of the many be a critical value. This pillar ties closely into respect, in that every individual deserves a fair representation within the community; democracy is also closely related to justice – for the same reasons.
Both honesty and the following value, trust, are important pieces of a successful community. Community leaders must be open and honest with community members; this honesty must include an openness regarding the finances for any associations that assist the community as a whole.
Similar to honesty, trust must be a critical value in the community. If every individual is open and honest, it will be far easier to trust one another. Remember that trust can be lost with a single dishonest action, and it is difficult to regain someone’s trust once you have lost it. For this reason, honesty and trust must be central and foundational pillars for a community.
While some larger entities and nations might disagree with this core value, democracy is an integral part of smaller communities. In order for a community of equal members to function properly and achieve goals, there must be some understanding that everyone’s opinions and ideas are important. The community should be led by the community, not by one individual who disregards any opinion contrary to his or her own.
Leading a Community
Being a leader is hard work, but a community whose seven core values are consistently addressed and prioritized will be easier to lead. For more information on the makings of a great community leader, check out this previous blog post.
Are you interested in getting involved with your Zambian community? Reach out to us at the ZLA Foundation for more information or donate today!