search for common ground
(1971) by Howard Thurman
1 – concerning the search
here is the paradox. a man is always threatened in his very ground by a sense of isolation, by feeling himself cut off from his fellows. yet he can never separate himself from his fellows, for mutual interdependence is characteristic of all of life ..t
the need to care for and the need to be cared for is another expression of the same basic idea. it is *unnecessary to resort to moral/religious authority for a mandate or for an injunction. **such needs are organic..t
therefore, whenever the individual is cut off from the private/personal nourishment from other individuals or from particular individuals, the result is a wasting away, a starvation, a failure of his life to be sustained and nourished..
this causes the wasting away.. not job loss (yang at 47 min: ie: if look at data.. that if someone doesn’t have a job.. esp if a man.. they tend to disintegrate into anti social self destructive behaviors.. i mean that’s just again.. facts and data..) .. graeber jobless law ness
the human spirit cannot abide the enforced loneliness of isolation. we literally feed on each other; where this nourishment is not available, the human spirit and the human body – both – sicken and die..t
to seek nourishment is a *built in urge.. an ingredient of life in its simplest or most complex manifestations..t
this is huge.. we’ve been spending/wasting time/energy trying to nourish/*train ourselves w/unnourishing things..
the clue to community can be found in the inner creative activity of living substances..
the key word to remember always is potential: that which has not yet come to pass but which is always coming to pass. it is only the potential, the undisclosed, the unfinished that has a future. i find it difficult to think of life apart from the notion of potential; indeed, they seem synonymous.. to be sure, life is not finished yet; creation is still going on
in human society, the experience of community, or realized potential, is rooted in life itself because the intuitive human urge for community reflects a characteristic of all life.
the most striking pattern of all is that there seems to be affinity between the human mind and all external forms, a fact that makes an understanding of the world possible for the mind..
2 – the search into beginnings
on how our curiosities crave beginnings.. so then.. religions.. first peoples.. myths.. as creation stories
basically.. all.. saying no longer an undisturbed ecosystem
3 – the search in living structures
the territory of occupancy.. ‘life’s habitat’ states clifford grobstein, ‘is the relatively thin zone where land, sea, and sky meet’ .. the technical term is biosphere.. this extraordinary phenom is but another expression of the order mech by means of which life’ knows’ what it must do.. the basis for this behavior is in the fact that the energetic foundation of all life is converted solar energy
the total quantity of material making up the living organisms in any give area w/in the habitable zone is called biomass.. the total biomass on the planet has never and perhaps can never be measured.. w/in the biomass it is crucial to my thesis to point out that here also order, organization, is characteristic of ‘behavior’.. again grobstein: ‘a fundamental property of the biomass is its organization into assemblages of diff kinds of units – groups or organisms that exist in characteristic association w each other and their environ’.. such associations are seen as functional groupings essential to what is going on in the whole biomass and its component organisms.. such a secondary characteristic is called ecosystem
thus.. uni not only vast and overwhelming.. but minutely structured.. coordinated.. there are systems w/in systems w/in systems, all held together and contained by a ‘boundless’ boundless ness.. apparently no fixed limits..
there are no apparent signposts marking the point in time and space at which the inanimate becomes animate
it is in the life of the organism that the meaning of community w/in our defn takes on its most fruitful significance..t
the cycle is endless, and the integration of any form cannot be thought of as independent of a similar process in other forms.. here is structural dependency expressive of an exquisite harmony – the very genius of the concept of community.. t
there is a constant and flowing interaction between the organism and the large environ, and each change in the environ is reflected in the organism.. in fact, it seems very difficult to make a clear distinction between the external and internal environment of the organism..
studies in the field make the point that there is w/in the internal environ a highly sensitive system of communication.. the chief agent is blood, w its network of channels thru which it flows throughout the body..
here is the operation of complex, intricate, patterned behavior as if it were committed to memory ast some far off time in an unknowable past..
already in us.. let’s go there
the uncanny devices, mechs, processes, or characteristics w/in the human body by which health and immunity to hostile invasion are maintained seem to express behavior that is not a part of the self conscious activity of the organism as such.. does not seem to be related to the function of the mind as we know it.. there is something in the body itself hat recognizes proteins of other living organisms as strangers and that is capable of organizing/carrying out an attack against them.. if they cannot be destroyed, the must be incarcerated in some way until they can be ejected or their danger neutralized.. the power to recognize and destroy such invaders is called immunity.. a highly org’d defense system..
we can do better than defense
as long as the memory is active, immunity against the disease is the result..
w/in these cells we would come upon those invisible configurations of energy that inform the cell of its goals and directions..determining a future concerning which it has no awareness but about which it has absolute confidence
in short, the organism seems to be self maintaining, reproducing, developing whole
when this rhythm is broken thru the malfunctioning of any of his organic parts then automatically, often w/o his leave, processes are set in motion for the restoration of the orderly process of unself conscious respiration, or health
a man becomes aware of any particular part of his organism only when it is malfunctioning..
a continuous wearing away or breaking down of the org and a continuous repairing and rebuilding – the process of renewal and repair are an integral part of the basic mech of the organism itself.. its resourcefulness in this regard is beyond accurate calculation..
4 – the search in the prophet’s dream
utopia’s most pronounced characteristic is a limited and contained community in which the potential of the individual as well as that of the society can be actualized
every element is defined in a manner that makes its presence identical w its function..in other words, utopias are custom made..
the dream of what life could be if.. what the collective life of man would be like if it functioned in keeping w man’s high destiny
having been released from the binding stricutre of the present circumstance, they can build whole new worlds full of all that is lacking in their present experience…
point way to a fresh possibility for mankind in the arduous struggle to actualize its own potential..
lewis mumford makes the interesting distinction between utopias that are places of refuge for the spirit and those that undertake to project a place of release as tome point in the future the former he calls utopias of escape, the latter utopias of reconstruction ‘the first leave the external world the way it is; the second seeks to change it so that one may have intercourse w it in one’s own terms. in one we build impossible castles in the air in the other we consult a surveyor and an architect and a mason and proceed to build a house which meets our essential needs; as well as houses made of stone and mortar are capable of meeting them’
utopias are rooted in the very structure of man’s conscious life.. there is a spirit that hovers over all the generations of man that rejects the contradiction of his private and social life as being either ultimate or final.. it refuses to accept the idea that life as it is being lived is meaningless..
what the utopian literary form reps in human experience is essentially the quality of hope about the human situation and about the future. i belabor this point because it is critical. it is so easy to dismiss utopias as the aberration of distorted minds or as expression of emotional instability..
no experience, no event at an particular moment in time exhausts the meaning and the ‘intent’ of life as reflected in the way life lives itself out. this is why so very often men aren’t unwilling to scale down the horizon of their hopes, dreams, and yearnings to the level of the events of their lives.. so long as there is a conviction that a potential has not been actualized..either in the individual/society/world.. the rational necessity and possibility of a realized future must be honored..
another kind of utopia.. plato’s republic..
he proposes to correct present evils by projecting a state in which these evils do not appear.. moral virtue is identical w political virtue in his state..
the fundamental goal before him is the search for justice, since it seems easier to understand the meaning of justice when considering the state than when trying to separate the motives in the life of the solitary individual..
whoa.. this seems huge.. as it goes against.. ie: thurman alive law.. and has us spending our days playing defense/justice.. unless in justice.. as in fairness.. we mean equity: everyone getting a go everyday.. can see how state ness went all out of wack
social justice, then, is defined as a condition in which every person has and does peacefully what it is his right to have and to do; he fills the place for which he is fitted..t
once it is assumed that men are born w the basic equipment that defines their place and function in society, then each is fulfilled when this potential is realized.. from this pov even the notion of justice is derived..
if only we believed this last two statements..
there is something exclusive about all utopias and this is ever their tragic flaw
(while describing a utopia): their main responsibility is to see that no one lives in idleness..
? that’s utopia..?
everyone is sure that he shall always be supplied so he does not have to hoard.. there is no fear of want..
except for want of still ness.. if there’s an idleness police.. no..?
mumford: ‘to cultivate the soil rather than simply to get away w a job; to take food and drink rather than to earn money; to think and dream and invent, rath er than to increase one’s reputation; in short, to grasp the living reality and spurn the shadow. this is the substance of the utopian way of life. in the is utopia of the new world, every man has the opportunity to be a man because no one ahs the opportunity to be a monster
5- the search in the common consciousness
communicating w animals.. there is an utmost center in us all
6 – the search in identity
the body is a man’s intimate dwelling place; it is his domain as nothing else can ever be..if for any reason whatsoever a man is alienated in his own body either by shame, outrage, or brutality, his sense of community w/in himself is rendered difficult, if not impossible..t
man cannot long separate himself from nature w/o withering as a cut rose in a vase
the price that is being exacted for this is a deep sense of isolation, of being rootless and a vagabond.. often i have surmised that this condition is more responsible for what seems to be the phenomenal increase in mental and emotional disturbances in modern life than the pressures – economic, social, and political – that abound on every hand.. the collective psyche shrieks w the agony that it feels as apart of the death cry of a pillaged nature..
in modern life the symbol of homeland that has emerged in full significance is that of sovereignty (full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies).. thus the state becomes the rallying point for establishing the meaning and the significance of the life of persons w/in its boundaries.. this symbol of belonging seems to meet a deep need in the life of modern man in a manner somewhat unique in modern history..
it provides a common tie for its citizens and a technical groups for rejecting aliens.. if formally defines an outsider and establishes rites and ritual for belonging.. even where there are birthrights unique to those who are born w/in its boundaries, provisions are made for ‘categories fo belonging’ established by custom and guaranteed by laws of that govern.. in modern life it is sovereignty that finally has the power of veto and certification over the individuals who make up the common life
the assumption is that the citizen who is loyal to sovereignty experiences community.. he lives in a climate in which it is reasonable to assume that his potential can be actualized or that life can under the circumstance or condition be given a max opp to realize itself in him
yeah see.. this needs to be all of us.. or it won’t work..
such a notion of sovereignty does something more. it gives the citizen an integrated basis for his behavior so that there is always at hand a socially accepted judgment that can determine for him when he is lost, when he has missed the way, that is, when he is out of community.. it defines the meaning of civic character and determines the kind of civic responsiblity that may develop it.. it may withhold such responsibility and thereby determine who may develop civic character, the true symbol of membership
see.. this is bunk.. in an undisturbed ecosystem.. no one has anything to prove.. no obligation.. (who’s validating people anyone.. how do they know .. ie: what’s best.. et al.. and if there are people spending their days validating people.. they’re not optimizing their own potential
there are many symbols and rituals of sovereignty by which the sense of community is kept current, fluid and viable.. ie: national flag/anthem/hymn/voting/holidays/war.. but one of most dramatic rituals for highlighting sense of belonging is the device of national/universal registration.. when.. need to ration supply of goods
for many.. marked a time they were a vital part of the common life for the first time.. now required by state to give full names… means that the sovereign state itself wanted to know precisely who they were.. gave them a quickened sense of belonging and participation..
let’s just go w eudaimoniative surplus
the rationalization covering such an eventuality (does ie: church or state rule) is that the sovereign is the people
2nd class citizen.. means that such persons are ‘outsiders’ living in the midst of ‘insiders’ required to honor the same demands of sovereignty but denied the basic rewards of sovereignty..t
2 comments on community in life of two of these minority groups
1\ american indian is the only indigenous people w/in the confines of american sovereignty.. the original insider is forced to become an outsider in his own territory. there are some things in life that are worse than death – surely this must be judged as such..
2\ afro american .. uprooted from his land and brought forcibly away to another land completely alien to his spirit and his gods.. all ties that gave him a sense of belonging..
violence is his most acceptable instrument for both control and social change as he may determine it..t
by vocal and, most often, silent consent the cry for law and order is given a specific , racially sinister meaning. the sanctity of sovereignty.. express in the ower of the sate to exercise veto and certification over ids of its citizens, is declared to be in jeopardy.. and order is separated from and given precedence of over justice.. the will to segregate that is inherent in the structure of american society is more and more stripped of its disguises and making itself felt w/o its customary facades
up to and including the present time, no creative way has been found to accomplish the specific ends of id and healthy self estimate that is devoid of the negativisms that seem to be inherent in the present struggle.. t