However paradoxical it may appear at first sight, we find when we examine actual cases that communities create a shared sentiment, a oneness, and a loyalty through selective differentiation of the persons who make them up. A society is a structure with many levels, offices, and roles, and the reason we feel grateful to the idea of society is that one man's filling his role makes it possible for another to fill his role, and so on. Because the policeman is doing his policeman's job, the owner of the bakery can sleep well at night. Because plumbers and electricians are performing their functions, doctors and lawyers are free to perform theirs, and the reverse. This is a truistic observation, no doubt, but too little attention is given to the fact that society exists in and through it variegation and multiplicity, and when we speak of a society's "breaking down," we mean exactly a confusing of these roles, a loss of differentiation, and a consequent waning of the feeling of loyalty. Society makes possible the idea of vocation, which is the primary source of distinctions.- Richard M. Weaver (1910-1963), Life without Prejudice, reprinted in In Defense of Tradition: Collected Shorter Writings of Richard M. Weaver, 1929-1963, ed. by Ted. J. Smith III (Liberty Fund: 2000), pg. 89.
Weaver was one of the authors who helped me to understand that we come to know who we are, and we find our path in life, through community. Any philosophy or political movement that seeks to undermine community and substitute it with either a totalist collectivism or atomized individualism can never serve as a vehicle for authentic humanism. To be human is to live in community with others: "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone" (Genesis 2.18a, King James Bible); "And if a man prevail against one, two shall withstand him: a threefold cord is not easily broken" (Ecclesiastes 4.12, Douay-Rheims Bible).