In all of our community process work, we try to create another context, an experience of something other than the idea of who we are and begin to have a sensation of a relationship with our human commonalities. This is essential because disagreements stem from our very particular, often distracting, biases. The attachment to these opinions sets everyone apart. It should be said that most are already apart… from themselves. Seeing others as, well, others, is the primary obstacle to a sense of community. So anything that begins to connect people with a physical sense of themselves also begins to connect them with others on a very elemental level, beyond those specific differences which usually loom so large.
Here’s just one example: Simply trying in a group to be sensitive enough to sit down all at the same time works on so many levels, not the least of which is the sensitivity part. We need to be aware of others… like ourselves. We’re joined in a simple common effort: to sit down together. It says it all. But not quite. The physical sensation operates on a deeper level to remind us of a most profound commonality: we live in a body, breathing, heart beating, although we so often forget it.
The result of these exercises, seemingly unrelated to the task at hand, is to break from the prescriptive world which is telling us we better get going on getting this thing done. It prepares a much more fertile ground where the meaning of what we’re truly hoping for might emerge. It describes and evokes what is needed. We are reminded that we are bound together and that our most fundamental dreams for ourselves and our loved ones are shared with others. What is encouraging is that even a momentary brush with that experience of commonality has an impact. It might allow us to confront, together, the real work necessary to bring about positive change in the world, which is so often messy and contentious. Informed, indeed inspired by the fertility of this common ground we can begin to marry making with meaning.