As I danced on a dance floor I was surrounded by fellow burn survivors who have similar burns as myself. The power of the community was felt. Some have lost limbs, some burned years ago, some not that long ago, some lost loved ones, the list goes on…yet we are all focused on the present moment having a good time, not on what happened. Everyone there traveled from around the world for this one week in Dallas, TX for healing, support and new friendships. The power starts as the week starts with burn survivors and supporters taking over the streets before the opening ceremony in the Walk of Remembrance. This power is felt and known that it changes lives to all who it comes in present with.
As a reflect on my time this year at World Burn Congress (WBC) as a Peer Mentor on the Young Adult Team there is two things that resinated with me, community and perspective. After much thought, these two things are what make or break ones experience at the conference and in pretty much any experience in life.
These last few weeks I began to study more about community. What does community mean? How do we create community? And even more narrowly, how does one keep community in conflict?
Here I thought I would dig more into community on what I think and have observed and what my research has shown.
According to Vanier in From Brokenness to Community, Community is:
Leaving your ego at the door,
Not Seeking an individual prize
Caring for other people AND yourself
Respecting and loving peoples differences
Learning to celebrate
Giving space and letting one grow
Having a directed mission together
(Vanier, 1992, pp.31–48)
In a world that seems to lack community, I reflect on this list and I can identify places that don’t have ANY of these. Following these simple yet hard things is what creates community and gives it power. Throughout the week at WBC, I got to be a part of an amazing team and witness all of these things.
My second observation on what influences ones experience is their perspective. To start
Your perspective influences and shapes how you see yourself, others and the world
Perspective determines on if you see yourself as a survivor or a victim (this can relate to ANYONE — not just burn survivors). It determines if you play the victim card in life or chose to see the positive, good or treat everything as a learning opportunity or a chance to grow. (I will expand on victim mindset in my next post ;) ) Perspective determines on if you sit there in pity and sorrow or move forward and fight or treat life as a learning opportunity for endless growth.
If you create community by doing the things listed and change your perspective of yourself, others and the world I believe that the world could be a better place.
To close our time at WBC we encourage others to bring what they have learned, the support and community home with them and look at how there perspective effects their life. I challenge those of you reading to do just so and hopefully this blog/journal will help give you some guidance on how to do so.