“Never doubt that a small group of committed citizens can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
Building community can make all the difference! There is a ‘group mind’ that is far wiser than any individual; there is a group potential far vaster than any solo effort. We all live in community as we participate in the human and ecosystems communities of the place we inhabit and work in.
So the choice is not whether to live in a community or not, rather to what extent we consciously acknowledge this fact and take responsibility for creating a well-knit, positively expressed form of community that allows all participants (human and the wider community of life) to thrive and express their individual gifts creatively and constructively for the benefit of all.
In essence, respecting life means consciously caring for the community on all levels. Although if we concentrate here on the building of community within the human world, the qualities required to do this are basically the same for our relationships with all of nature as well. Connective thinking and acting is needed in every realm. Developing an ever finer capacity for sensitive observation and communication are the stepping stones.
Climbing out of a space of inner judgement, in which we feel that we already know it all, allows us to perceive freshly. This will bring out the true individuality of everybody’s special gifts. Cooperating and sharing then become possible. Building a new global-local culture capable of regeneration, resilience and transformation in the face of inevitable change will be the accumulated product of much individual and collective work.
All of life — humans, animals, and other living beings — have an intrinsic value. Having intrinsic value means they are worth being here and have a role to play simply for being who they are — an expression of life’s continuous exploration of novelty. We have come to look at most of life and even many human beings simply in terms of ‘instrumental value’ (how they serve us to meet a need or a goal). This mistaken attitude is one of the roots of unsustainability and the multiple converging crises humanity is facing.
Diversity is a gift that we should cherish and celebrate. It is the immense accumulation of the treasures created by life’s evolutionary journey. Diversity is the key to health, resilience, and transformative innovation. All separation in the human community, whether due to class, race, political observation, gender, or age is socially created false separation. We need to shift from the ‘story of separation’ to the ‘story of interbeing’ and heal the wounds of this false separation by recognizing our profound interdependence and interconnectedness as wonderfully diverse expressions of the wider process of life’s evolution.
We have already started on this journey towards recognizing our interbeing and are beginning to understand that a sustainable world will also have to be a more equitable and egalitarian world, since we will not be able to sustain the current levels of inequity of money, power and education and create a healthier world, nor would we want to sustain them anyway.
Whether we start by acknowledging that all world citizens have the same “right” to limited CO2 emissions and being to understand the atmosphere is a common good or global commons. Whether we finally acknowledge the equal rights of women which have been denied historically in so many places and are still being denied in many but are gradually improving in most places. Or whether we are looking at the strong movement in all walks of life to find ways of organizing institutions and workplaces so that the combined contributions of all involved are honored and synergistic, while benefits are shared more equitably. There are many examples that we are beginning to recognize our unity in multiplicity, celebrate our diversity, and are doing so with deeper human solidarity. We are not all the same, and yet, we have the same rights and responsibilities as participants in the community of life.
We are relational beings that only exist in relation to “other”, but not as separate, isolated selves, much rather as facets of our large self — the community of life.
Finally as Thomas Berry stated:
“The Universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.”
- Dr. Katie Kamara