We can give people the gift of their dignity. We can help others just by the way we listen to them and speak with them. We can show them by our own trust that what they have to say is important and good. Community is caring for people, but of course as soon as we start caring for people, we know that there are some people who will just drive us up the wall. Some we will really like, because they think like us. Then we risk falling into a world of mutual flattery. We are all so much in need of affection that when somebody gives it to us we want to hold onto it.
...But flattery doesn't help anyone to grow. It doesn't bring freedom but rather closes people up in themselves. We are attracted to certain people, and others put us off. We don't get on well with them. They trigger off our anguish....Some people threaten us, others flatter us. Some meetings are joyful, and others are painful. When we begin talking about caring for people, then we begin to see how difficult it can be. In community we are called to care for each member of the community. We can choose our friends but we do not choose our brothers and sisters; they are given to us whether in family or in community.
Jean Vanier, From Brokeness to Community, pp 37-38