I am posting this publicly so that I can reference it in links going forward. There might be a more common way to express this sentiment, this is just the way that I often do in conversation. It is something I came up with in discussing intentional communities with my wife a while back.

Oftentimes, communities will tear themselves apart simply over battles over who is “pure” enough to belong. We see this political infighting in all sorts of communities at all sorts of scales. The “narcissism of small differences”, right? Holding an unreasonably high bar of acceptance is completely counterproductive to building the kinds of broad-based movements that we need today in order to tackle the problems all of our societies face, whether at the international or local levels.

One of the great lessons of anarchism that I learned from David Graeber over the years is how to actually go about developing the vitally effective community characteristic of diversity: learning how to listen to and respect individuals, their choices, experiences, and opinions. We cannot let “intellectual purism” prevent us from building (or burning!) necessary bridges. That is not to say there isn’t a limit. The Paradox of Tolerance is also something we need to contend with. But in general, we should approach community building with a “Big Tent” attitude.

The Buddha was a perfectly enlightened being, a singular achievement. Yet the sangha, the Buddhist community, has survived for more than 2500 years.

We all can’t be Buddhas… but with the right attitude, there are plenty of other ways that we can participate, and be together as part of the community.


At the end of my 1 year Upāsaka program, I was given the Pali name of Sanghapāla — “protector of the sangha” — so one could say I have a spiritual devotion to community-building! 😊