This Saturday, a great shout went up from over 200,000 people in Washington DC, marching not only for recognition of and action on climate change, but also for such issues as jobs, social justice, affordable, quality health care, sustainable agriculture, our natural ecosystems – in short, a paradigm change from how we currently perceive our world. The people marching represented a cross-section of our subcultures: Native, Hispanic, Asian, African-American, those of European origin, men, women, straight, gay, young, old. All shared a common overall vision of a healthy, living, habitable planet and a just and fair society. Contained within the framework and vision of the march were also the specific agendas of myriad activist groups and the smaller personal visions of the marchers.
Certainly, none of these groups and none of these marchers were SAME. Each had his/her/its own flavor, own goals, and own talents to contribute. No one group or individual claimed priority over another. The diversity of all was included, and each marched as one. Here is a lesson from the paradigm that informed the march, the paradigm waiting to be born. We are as diverse as the stars, and we are all, not same, but one. Each contributes his or her part, yet none is individually responsible for bringing about the breadth of the change we can sense and see. We are responsible for cooperating, contributing, speaking, listening and facilitating each other. The totality itself is borne by the One. The many are in the One, and the One is in the many. We need to recognize that reciprocity.
Worldwide, the seeds of that reciprocity have been growing. Each seed is as different from the other as were Saturday’s marchers. Each seed is a microcosm of the whole, and, as in a hologram, the macrocosm is in each microcosm. I am referring to conscious community.
Community comes in many forms, including extended family, tribes, interest groups (such as gardening, library volunteers, sports clubs), close-knit neighborhoods, religious groups, or the often temporary communities brought together by disaster. Each shares common traits: cooperation, communication, interdependence, recognition of diversity, helpfulness, and generosity. Each is also a training ground for the larger cooperation we need to steer our planet away from the brink of destruction, and to create an Earthly system that nurtures all its denizens.
By far the largest group of communities, and the ones with most experience in cooperative, sustainable and problem-solving endeavors are those who call themselves, broadly, intentional communities. These communities are intentional because their participants have made a conscious decision to live in cooperation with each other, and consciously commit themselves to embodying that decision. Not one of their growing number is just like another. No two are SAME. They are the globally myriad urban and rural folk who live sustainably together, often self-sufficient in such things as energy, food and health care. They range in longevity from newly forming communities to communities who are decades mature. Most are quiet; the mainstream is not yet aware of their presence. Yet, it is within these widely varied communities that the seeds of a healed Earth and a gentler culture have grown. It is time for them to speak up, and for the rest of us to listen.
My purpose here is not to give a full description of the communities movement. Those who desire such information should contact the Fellowship for Intentional Community, www.ic.org . What I want to convey is that the pace of change is exponentially increasing, and changes – for better or worse – are rapidly approaching. Both to increase our own ability to handle those changes, and for the opportunity to influence them, it behooves each of us to steer our paths towards community. We need to learn from those who have gone before us, and to create from what we learn. We need to begin – each of us – to form our own communities, in and from which we live cooperatively with each other. Yes, we will need to sacrifice some of our fervent independence, the my-wishes-first and I-can-go-it-alone assumptions, in favor of what works for a group and interdependence. The reward is a satisfying sense of belonging and a sensitive, stable and sustainable Earth. Our futures may depend upon it.