Community has been increasingly defined as a static phenomenon. In urban settings, it can be defined by meetings and activities. It can also be defined by a neighborhood's borders. Community centers are often confused with community itself. Church congregations are often equated with community. In biology, a community is a group of interacting living organisms sharing a common populated environment.
I have occasionally referred to a gay community in discussions. However, there is no real homogeneous thing. There is no real Black community. There is no real Asian community. These are all constructs used by politicians and statisticians to calculate strategy. When I blow this up further, would I say there is a heterosexual male community? Would anyone buy a heterosexual female community in today's parlance?
My educational background is heavy in science. I tend to see myself as a member of a human community wherever I am in accordance with the biological definition. Therefore, when I am on the subway, I am not a member of the transit community. I am a member of the human community on the subway.
A certain mental opening occurs with this perspective. By looking at myself as a member of any contemporaneous human community with which I share habitat, I am shedding race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual preference as qualifiers to be applied to the human beings around me. This is a moment-by-moment perspective on community. It is also entails a certain personal responsibility in the most mundane human situations.
Religions, clubs, political organizations are dividers. They segment the human community by identity markers. They serve a purpose. However, overpopulated human habitats can become alienating places when the concept of community becomes narrowed to special interests. I see this happening in my own urban environment. As a Bostonian, this alienation strikes me as relatively new with our increasing population and its increasing non-native numbers.
As a humanist, I feel that seeing all groups of human beings in shared habitat as my community is a workable and healthy way to live ethically. It helps me heal programmed obstacles to compassion in my mind. As a professional health care provider (R.N.), I have been trained to make a contribution to any community in which I reside. I take this as a personal responsibility, not simply a way to make a salary. This is why I have maintained my license since my retirement from salaried work.
As non-religious people form communities, in the sense of congregations, I hope these meetings continue to be widely open and not limited by divisive dogma. In fact I hope non-religious groups seek and thrive upon a wide diversity of the human population wherever they occur. Right now I fear that these communities are only diverse within an encapsulated socioeconomic and educational class. The language and activities of these communities reflect this. They are more alumni/alumnae club than factory softball team.