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Conventional wisdom suggests that communities bring out the best in us. Truth be told, they bring out the worst. And at least for now, that is primarily why I am interested in communities and why I think you should join one. Yes, my argument is that you should commit yourself to a community in order to bring out the worst in you.

Most of us are totally unaware of the worst in us; although it is easily identifiable to others. Our biggest flaws are glaringly obvious to everyone around us. Yet they are blind spots to us.

These blind spots destroy friendships, marriages, families, and churches, and we have no idea that they even exist. We simply refuse to confront them or the possibility that the problem is not society or other people but the man in the mirror. We migrate from place to place, leaving only after each one goes up in flames, perplexed that the world could somehow be so against us. Never once do we consider that we carry the only common denominator with us wherever we go.

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Modern society is allergic to correction. We run from it. We run from anything that suggests that the problem lies in “me, myself, and I.”

Couples happily date each other—until it is incumbent on them to actually fix themselves; then, they quit. Often, we take this same mentality into marriage. We cut off our friends when they try to call us out. We hop from church to church because we could not get along with the people at church x and the pastor at church y rebuked us. Needless to say, church z (to our great shock!) will not be perfect, either. But even after failed marriages, broken families, damaged friendships, and 16 churches, how dare anyone insinuate that the problem might be personal?

Soon, we will give up on commitment altogether. Relationships are complicated; relationships force us to confront our pride. We’d rather withdraw into some cave, driven almost mad that the whole world is out to get us. At this point, there really are only two options. Either all our exes, former friends, past churches, and that random guy on the street who looked at us funny have entered a conspiracy against us; or the problem is internal.

Of course, almost without fail, we will elect that the former is true.

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Ultimately, this is why modern society has so totally failed at fidelity. Fidelity forces us to examine ourselves, to grapple with our own unlikable qualities. It necessitates correction. Binding ourselves to a community compels us to work on ourselves, and it gives us a place where we inescapably will hear the (often ugly) truth about who we really are. If we ever hope to become better people, this is absolutely mandatory. The man who refuses to hear incriminatory truth cannot possibly fix himself.

So, my advice to you, dear reader, is: surround yourself with people who love you enough to call you out. And do not run away when they do.

Sure, correction is hard to hear, and relationships are complicated, but as the ancient book of wisdom so famously declared: “Iron sharpeneth iron; So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

If you want to be refined, join a community and commit yourself to it. Only then will you begin to see your blind spots.

Jakob Fay is a staff writer for the Convention of States Project, a project of Citizens for Self-Governance.

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