Thursday, June 11, 2009

Vital skill for forging our future

I am a long time member of the Open Space Listserve.  There are a lot of amazing folks and deep thinkers over there.  Today my dear friend and OS colleague, Doug Germann, posted this quote:
It is their presence in the whole, and the fact that they are helping the life of the whole, which gives them their individual life....Italics in original. Christopher Alexander, The Nature of Order: An Essay on the Art of Building and The Nature of the Universe, Book One: The Phenomenon of Life, p 431

Doug followed that up with his own observations and one of his wonderful questions:
What I am seeing here as an inside-out truth, is that in a group we do not lend the group our individual life, it goes somewhat the other way round about. What gives us our individual existence and life is our presence in the group, our helping of the group; in turn the others helping the group give us life. We intensify each other.

Can this be true?

So i chimed in and here is an expanded version of my reply:
Yes. It's about Circles of Belonging, Doug.  
Don't we feel most alive when we know we are truly significant?  That our existence matters essentially to another?  We can only see that truly reflected in the eyes of our community.  

It explains modern existential angst.  Without true community and a way to find our place in it--we find life deadened, numbing, meaningless.  The same thing is mirrored in organizations.  We have largely managed (all puns intended) to engineer an inhuman context for ourselves.  If we are to create a future where we and all the other species on our planet can thrive, we will need to understand the need for authentic significance deeply and begin working to acquire the skills and instincts to provide this to each other in the way we live and work together.

Re-membering and re-claiming the skills and patterns of connecting to the whole is a vital process for our future.  There are ways of being in community that we have forgotten (and many of us never learned).  And i don't just mean human community; i mean the WHOLE.  We also need to feel, really experientially, in our bones, feel our connection to earth and cosmos and all the life in it.  

I see groups working to emerge these ways of being.  Aikido is one place.  We work there on ourselves within a community of care, to understand the deeper connections between us; how our intentions intertwine, how our energy flows and merges, how we can learn to treat each other with delicacy.  As one teacher said, "Aikido is about caressing the soul".  It is one of the places i feel seen and feel welcomed to see others.

I see the Non-Violent Communication community working to build the skills for verbally connecting in ways that we can truly give appreciation to each other. Working to learn and teach how to communicate in ways that honour the self and the other, without harm.  

Again i am finding it hard to put words to this knowing.  In order to thrive in complexity, we need each other like never before and yet we are stuck in this vise of not having the skills we need to live and work well together.  That is the work i am passionately engaged in now.  How can we transform ourselves into who we need to be to thrive?  I have found that this work takes great personal courage to engage in.  We all carry the grief around of the wounds we have received from those who were supposed to see and love and appreciate us and who didn't.  So many are walking numbed, and deadened.  So many of us don't even know how to accept appreciation and love when we are exposed to it.  

So i say, these skills and patterns of connecting to the whole (self, family, community, world, cosmos) are vital to our future.  Vital to our individual and collective health.  Vital to life. We need to re-learn, to co-create, to co-emerge these skills and patterns of working and living well together.  

We will know we have arrived when, as Harrison Owen has recently pointed out, Open Space Technology is just one of the ways we do things.  I believe the deep inner resonance for this sense of one's place in the whole is what many people experience and enjoy about Open Space.  And Aikido.  onegai shimasu O Sensei.  I don't want to bore all you non-aikidoists, but there is a jewel at the center of Aikido--a sparkling diamond gift of finding the connection to each other and the whole that gives us life.  

Where have you found this resonance?

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