"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Wounded Healer in the Community?

“In and through community lies the salvation of the world.” M S Peck

This is an expansion of a blog on community I published not so long ago. It is such an important subject for today's world.
M. Scott Peck became well known in the 1970s and 1980s for his best selling books on personal spiritual growth. He is probably best remembered for The Road Less Traveled and Further Along the Road Less Traveled. He also made a study of community building and its role in achieving world peace, and he wrote this up for the popular market in his book The Different Drum. His books continue to sell well and are just as relevant in today’s world.
In his book Peck defined the basic community as “a group of individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other, whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have developed some significant commitment to ‘rejoice together, mourn together,’ and to ‘delight in each other, make others’ conditions our own.”This definition emphasizes the need for vulnerability amongst the members of a community. It sets up the conditions for healing and wholeness in an atmosphere of mutual trust.
A participant in one of M Scott Peck’s community building workshops observed that ‘the greatest gift we can give each other is our own woundedness.’ Only the wounded, says Peck, can heal community.This story is obviously quite old, but some ideas are timeless, hence we talk of the need in today's world for Ancient Wisdom.
Real honesty and openness, two of his community-making principles, require us to be vulnerable, to have a willingness to be wounded. In The Different Drum, he writes at length on vulnerability in community building. The danger of invulnerability, he warns, of acting as a ‘cool cat,’ is that psychological defences are put up between the two parties, and the relationship between them becomes nothing more than ‘ two empty tanks bumping against each other in the night.’ He talks of a ‘peace through weakness’ strategy to build community, at all levels. ‘For the reality is that …. there can be no community without vulnerability; and there can be no peace – ultimately no life – without community.’ And this involves taking the risk of showing our vulnerability.
Alastair McIntosh is a Scottish human ecologist, writer and campaigner. If “humankind is to have any hope of changing the world,” he writes in his wonderful book Soil and Soul, “we must constantly work to strengthen community.”We will achieve this only by “coming alive to community with one another, with the place where we live, and with soul.” This, he says, recognizes “a Celtic truth about identity, which is actually a deep human truth: a person belongs only inasmuch as they are willing to cherish and be cherished by a place and its peoples.”
A lovely thought.
The photo is of the Chestnut Festival in Nuns Valley in Madeira.It was raining, as we say, "cats and dogs" but the community spirit there was palpable - you could feel it in spite of the discomforts of the heaviest rain they had seen for years.

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