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No Downloads. Views Total views. Actions Shares. Embeds 0 No embeds. No notes for slide. Our community is also an exploration of mutual empowerment via self- organizing networks of cooperative action. The problem of group think in the face of ongoing failures and impending disasters.
I'm sure most of you are familiar with two of Einstein's famous sayings, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. In my experience, once having invested their hopes and dreams in a particular path of action, people be- come extremely reluctant to admit that the path chosen might have been a mistake. And the larger the mistake, the larger the reluctance. I know that tendency well in myself. Just think of the Iraq war: fifteen years of fighting, thousands of lives lost, perhaps millions in- jured, several trillion dollars spent, with the situation now much worse than when the war began.
And peo- ple are still arguing that this war was a good idea! It makes me wonder Will the death of the Earth follow the same blind path as the destruction of Iraq? We have already shown how blind we can be. To think new thoughts we will often need new thinking partners. Although every now and then people can think wonderful new ideas all by themselves, thinking has a deeply social element in it.
Those wonderful ideas will probably not get developed unless there is someone to talk with. We learn to think, early in life, in the company of those from whom we learn to speak. Then we spend ten to twenty years in classrooms and teams where our thinking power unfolds even more in the company of others.
In this social view of language and thinking which makes a lot of sense to me , what- ever ideas we hold, we almost always hold in the con- text of a circle of conversation partners. Now Mother Earth is falling apart, and we need to think big new thoughts about what sort of social ar- rangements will allow life to flourish rather than per- ish. We already know the kinds of social arrangements that have brought us to our current impasse.
Inventing something new and actually better evolution! As one possible way of meeting that challenge, I am proposing in this article that each of us begin by coop- erating with at least one other person, each partner giv- ing the other permission to "think outside the box," and also to care about life in widening circles, outside the box of the individual selfishness that is the glowing ideal of American capitalism. This work is licensed by the author, Dennis Rivers, to the world under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.
Companions in Blessing — Nurturing Evolutionary Friendships — Page 2 new thoughts about the society in which you live, or start to care with a wider caring that your society al- lows, you risk evoking intense hostility from people around you who may have given up the hope of a bet- ter world. Having a small circle of supportive friends, or even one, can make all the difference. You could think of that new conversation partner as a swim- buddy for the ocean of life, or perhaps a Mother Earth accountability partner.
Resilient Teams of Two Companions in Blessing are exploring and developing the practice of evolutionary friendship as an open- source belongs to everyone model of social change. We are searching for ways to nurture in one another the creative resilience and transformational kindness we need to face of the multiple breakdowns of our era.
By weaving friendship into social action, we hope to provide people with the resources and encouragement needed to stay involved with difficult issues for long periods of time. A key element of our approach is the recommendation that people pair up in mutual support teams of two. This Teams-of-Two approach is one possible vision of how we might work on issues of ecological sustainability in ways that are themselves emotionally sustainable for the participants.
We hope to renew and extend this way of organizing co- operative effort in the context of serving the Web of Life in Her hour of great need. So we are committed to weaving emotional support practices, information and reflection into all our presentations of those difficult topics.
For example, if we are going to appeal to people to make strenuous efforts for years on end to keep the world from being poisoned by leaking nuclear power plants, then it seems quite compelling to me that we should also provide some opportunity for people to express the kinds of distresses they might feel as they master and live with the facts, issues and implications of the gradual radioactive contamination of their families and their world. Many anti-nuclear and climate change groups have not yet begun to operate at this level, but it is greatly to be hoped that this level of support will emerge as ecological advocacy groups evolve and mature.
We are committed to publishing open source documents on the topic, which you can find on our web site. Eco-philosopher and anti- nuclear activist Joanna Macy is an inspiring pioneer in this area, and her work has deeply inspired and influenced our thinking, and contributed to our online resources. The ecological crises of our time, however, and the chronic wars and global economic inequalities that kill millions of people every decade, may well last longer than our entire lives.
They are what you might call enduring emergencies. Companions in Blessing — Nurturing Evolutionary Friendships — Page 3 the expression, slow violence, to describe our predicaments.
Global warming and Chernobyl and Fukushima include processes of injury that will unfold over hundreds or even thousands of years. These crises are, for better or for worse, the contexts in which we will become persons. Responding to emergencies usually does not include learning new skills or cultivating new strengths.
But from where I stand now, it seems self- defeating for us to assume that we already have today all the personal strengths, all the personal skills, and all the personal webs of mutual support we will need to contribute effectively to the mending of the world over the rest of our lifetimes. By way of personal example, most of my life has been over-shadowed by issues involving nuclear weapons and nuclear waste. I grew up practicing weekly atom bomb shelter drills and later lived downwind from a nuclear power plant build on an earthquake fault.
When I look at my life from the perspective of decades, the pattern of in-breath and out-breath suggests itself as a model. For every great challenge I face outside of myself, there appears to be a set of corresponding deep strengths that I am being challenged to develop in myself and encourage in my circle of co-workers. In a similar way, I have now become convinced that the deeper the ugliness we intend to confront and mend in the world, the deeper the beauty we need to let into our lives.
Some models we are learning from, and some we are learning to overcome One challenge that we face in organizing a peer support network is that in Western societies the psychotherapy profession has come to dominate the process of emotional support giving.
In recent decades psychologists in the United States even moved to classify all processes of emotional support and discussions of personal development as the unique province of licensed professionals themselves. This effort failed because of freedom of speech and religious freedom issues. For the most part, however, the gradual monopolization of emotional support conversations by psychotherapists has not been the result of a conscious plan on their part.
It is much more an unfortunate byproduct of the process of professionalization itself. Whenever one group in society starts specializing in a particular activity brain surgery, house wiring, shoe making, etc.
This professionalization brings good results in many areas of life but, I would suggest, terrible results in other areas. They involve society-wide consensus-shifting and the participation of as many people as possible. So we need to learn from examples of wide participation, such as Step groups and the Civil Rights movement. We might also learn from other examples, such as how specific card games are played around the world with relatively little supervision, how popular songs spread across the world, and the structure of amateur sports, to understand more about how such movements and activities reach out to involve and empower new participants.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Mahatma Gandhi From Mahatma Gandhi we receive the idea that we have the power to be the change we want to see. Therefore, you have infinite resources of love. But having such resources means that we can stop waiting for someone else to do something wonderful! We can find a way to start doing that something wonderful in our own lives, in our own towns, in our own countries. It is possible to express this vision of empowerment as based in nature, as well, for those of us who are not members of a specific religious community.
This brings to mind the nature mysticism of John Muir and Hildegard of Bingen. Starting in nature, one could say that every cell in your body contains the five hundred million year history of life, therefore you have within you a well of living intelligence to draw on in overcoming whatever obstacles your society faces.
You have the power, in both of these visions, the spiritual and the spirit-in-nature, to begin the change you want to see. And you have the power to stand against the entire world in those times when the world sinks into the confusion of greed and violence.
Mahatma Gandhi Study Resources Rev. From the Rev. In Dr. In terms of a mutual support network, Dr. Study Resources From the eco-philosopher Joanna Macy, we receive a profound idea that changes our relationship to the crises of our time.
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