Community

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Family jump
Family jump,
originally uploaded by Evil Erin.

Although the classical scientific explanation of reality has been mostly superseded by modern physics, it still remains deeply ingrained in our psyches and continues to affect all aspects of our daily lives.

For instance, our fascination with taking things apart, examining and classifying the pieces, and not carefully considering how to put them back together, applies to our relationships with family and community just as much as to the objects of laboratory study. This way of thinking leads to the fragmentation of our social lives, especially today when technological advancements enable us to leave our homes and roots at a moment’s notice and resettle in distant parts of the planet by the end of the day, maintaining superficial relationships through phone lines and computers. Thus the coherence of community decays.

Not that freeing oneself from the confines of a stifling environment is a bad thing, or that the pursuit of individual freedom and personal growth is a bad thing. But there is a vital distinction that is often missed between genuine positive freedom and the unsalvageable destruction of meaningful human connections. An inner spiritual state of detachment enables conscious love, but a self-absorbed emotional detachment from other human beings merely causes alienation, not freedom, and is just a sign of the inability to sustain love, commitment, or responsibility.

We are connected to each other in a web of mutuality in space and time, and cannot separate from each other any more than a bit of matter can separate from time, space, or its environment. When community no longer nourishes, and it becomes necessary to break communal links, new human relations must be established. Personal freedom grows when the individual is nourished, sustained, and supported by love, when idiosyncrasies are cherished, and communication is warm and plentiful. But freedom corrodes and perishes in the anonymity of standardized mechanical mass culture, where conformity masquerades as equality, and we are free to make whatever life choices we wish to make but have no healthy criteria for making them.

Anonymous says:

brilliantly written, thanks. I like the way you connect the remains of an atomistic scientific viewpoint with the (potential, if not actual) fragmentation of community (vs the systems viewpoint)… I am most curious to learn how you define community – and would like to learn more about how individuals who are individuating (Jung) can relate to the greater whole (community)… Technology has its boons, but, of course, it would be a great loss if persons forgot how to communicate meaningfully face-to-face.