Saturday, 27 August 2016 21:59

Genuine Community

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Bob Short – Executive Coordinator

Seeking Global Community is our Affiliate vision statement. “Seeking” might not be the perfect verb (up until a few years ago, it was “Creating,” but that seemed a touch grandiose). Nevertheless, global community was and is at the heart of our intention.

So, we ask if the world today is more unified or less unified than it was yesterday? Is there a sense, if still faint, that we are a part of a wondrous whole, an integral, connected global community? The evidence for and against this supposition is abundant.

 If, as a very small sampling, we chose to look at the present political drama in the US today, a bottle of Prozac couldn’t cure the depression or make us conclude that we’re moving towards global unity. One candidate boisterously promotes nationalism, isolationism, and individual ego (I alone can fix this), with little mention of positive connection to the world beyond US borders. 

The other side speaks much more encouragingly about our alliances and our interdependence with other countries. Yet, several speakers at the DNC Convention spoke unapologetically of American Exceptionalism. As an Affiliate committed to Maryknoll’s mission charism and having lived and worked for several years in Latin America, I found that reference troublesome. That is, I can love my country and the Constitution (as I do my own family) without repeatedly having to say that we are the best and most powerful country (family) in the world. Exceptionalism is just that—exclusionary and, I’m guessing, alienating to other countries. I don’t see how it could promote a movement toward unified consciousness. In the end, the movement towards wholeness and global community requires a much deeper and more radical transformative consciousness.

The argument that the world is becoming more unified is also made by those who point to a new level of shared consciousness that has taken place via the World Wide Web and other digital technologies. Additionally, globalization, which Roland Robertson (Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture) defined as, “…the compression of the world and the intensification of the consciousness of the world as a whole” is an undeniable reality. So, a new sense of unity is emerging. However, this growing global consciousness has not been internalized and is unattached to a unifying Spirit. It has no soul. Or, as Ilia Delio OSF, expressed it in Making All Things New: Catholicity, Cosmology, Consciousness, (the book we are presently reading for the Affiliate Book Group), “…our emerging unity does not have a common story.” (p. 107)

In the end, it is not a matter of getting clearer thinking on all this, because, despite Descartes’s cognitive bias, heady, abstract thought inevitably cuts up the unified whole into a thousand pieces. Nor do we need yet another ideology. We’ve gone through plenty of those in our lifetime. In a small but important way, here is where the Affiliate vision, Seeking Global Community, can make a meaningful contribution, offering a heartfelt core to the emerging conscious unity. For it aligns with and is inspired by over 100 years of Maryknollers walking with and being present to peoples throughout the globe. 

We’ve heard the axiom, “Give a man a fish and you’ll feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.” Maryknollers have gone beyond this, staying with the people to fish. In this way, mutual relationships are formed and genuine community can begin to form. And, while in those years the particular mission model was shaped by an older hierarchal cosmology, a heartfelt sense of Spirit and Love nevertheless infiltrated just about every aspect of the mission. 

In the global community we seek (from wherever we find ourselves), Love and Spirit are the radically transformative elements and will always be a constitutive part of the common story and of a genuine global community. 

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