July 7, 2009
In Relationship With Others
The most important personal and political skill to develop is how to be in relationship to others.
Tonight I had dinner with a group of people who have been teachers, mentors, friends, acquaintances, and facilitators in my life. They are each moving the skill set of relationship building in a different way, in different circles, communities, cultures.
Learning to be deeply vulnerable, available, accountable and in communication with others is something that, for some, happens in the home, during childhood. for others, there is a longing to be in community, to be in relationship -- but the learning doesn’t come until later.
There are, at this moment, communities all over the world who are learning together, learning new ways of surviving, caring for each other, and sharing the physical and mental and emotional space that we have together. We have a sense of the planet, and our cities, and our homes -- all of it -- as being limited.
Simultaneously, we have the internal experience (at least i hope others have the experience) of being limitless. That infinite capacity to love and be loved, to care and be cared for, to open up and listen up -- that capacity is within us in every moment we feel we have reached a limit.
To experience this on a personal level, transforming inside from a scarcity of time and ability and instinct to a space of awareness, purpose, and responding to your deepest knowledge -- it's remarkable.
But it's not enough.
To experience this with one other person, moving beyond small talk and small thinking, gossip and shit-shooting, into the exploration of who we are and why, and what we are learning -- that is what friendship should be.
And to grow in love, transforming from a secretive, jealous, manipulative attempt to own another, into an open, loving, pure and accepting way of walking alongside and weaving into the life of another -- it’s liberating.
On the timeline of humanity, it would appear that we have spent so much time simply surviving, with romance only as a fairy tale. And now we are in an age where magnificent love is not only possible, I would argue that it is necessary if we are to evolve to the next level.
The practice of being in relationship with others is what we are missing. individualism -- personal individualism and national or patriotic individualism -- has created a loneliness amongst humans which is not survivable. The tendency to fight for what is ‘mine’ or ‘ours’ at the cost of what is ‘yours’ or ‘theirs’ means that we can become convinced that we must destroy in order to protect what belongs to us, even if that destruction is of our very selves. But everything we destroy is part of the meta-system that we too must exist on.
On a planetary level this looks like polluting and extracting and destroying part of a global ecosystem today which will only result in an unhealthy world for all of us tomorrow.
On an economic and political level, this looks like battling, murdering, stealing from each other and institutionalizing inequalities which lead to such hunger and need and anger that no one can be safe, or feel at peace.
On a diplomatic level, this means we work against each other when it is only by working with each other that we can resolve the great challenges that face our species.
Mediation, facilitation, communication -- these cannot be practices only for experts. this has to be part of the core set of skills that every human being gets to experience. We have to internalize the ability to be in relationship with ourselves and others, so that we can see the truth -- we are each tiny fragments of a greater whole, and we are each necessary.
In community, our potential is truly realized. What we have to offer to each other is not merely critique, anger, commentary, ownership and false power. we have the capacity to hold each other, serve each other, heal each other, create for and with each other, forgive each other, and liberate ourselves and each other.
These are not new thoughts, this is what beloved community means. It is what we all long for, and what we all need.
So in this context i ask you to ask yourself -- who are you in relationship with, and how can you go deeper, be more present, and offer more of your whole self?