& Community - Stramp
Still – in a
way – nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small – we
haven’t time – and it takes time, like to have friend takes
time. Georgia O’Keefe
there is a season, a time to every purpose under heaven.
Gift of Time
Diana is one
of the busiest people we know, on the go from dawn to dusk. She has
a seat on the local school board, is active the church and belongs
to numerous community groups. She watches out for her elderly
parents and regularly minds her numerous grandchildren.
A visit with
her is likely to be interrupted by a runny nose, sticky hands or a
phone call asking for assistance. Files are scattered amongst the
freshly baked cookies, books are piled on the counter and ‘Post It’
notes surround the phone. We were frankly skeptical about suggesting
a connection with Joan. Where would she find the time?
however, was ill founded. Diana regularly finds the time to go and
visit Joan. In fact every Thursday morning she gets busy in the
kitchen and prepares a special lunch for Joan. She then packs it up,
drives over to Joan’s group home and spends two hours with her,
giving lunch to her bit by pain staking bit.
One day we
asked Diana, "Why do you do it? You are so busy and have so
much going on yet you take the time to sit with Joan and give her
lunch." Diana replied, " I do it for me. The time I spend
with Joan is the only time in my whole week when I slow down. You
see, Joan gives me the gift of time."
Over the past
few months many of us involved with Philia have been touched and
surprised by the resonance elicited in our dialogues. Our collective
explorations seem to be occurring in the moment when there is a
readiness and indeed perhaps a hunger, to reflect on the questions
posed by our ideas related to citizenship, disability and
contribution. We have been particularly moved by the readiness of
people to engage even though we are still searching for words to
fully describe the deep concepts of caring and contribution that are
at the heart of Philia.
observed that mystery is an embarrassment to the modern mind.
Perhaps the day has come that we find ourselves ready to move beyond
our embarrassment to settle in with the struggle of mystery, in
order to know our world and ourselves better. Attuning ourselves to
mystery, to resonance, to inspiration requires that we surrender to
another kind of timing, the timing of Kairos. Kairos is nature’s
time. It is the realm of time that informs the right action at the
Philia as the reserve of human warmth, affect and generosity that
nourishes and stimulates the fellowship that is the heart of civic
life. This reserve is a part of the collective resilience of
individuals, families and communities. In other words it is already
there. For human beings, living in community and caring for one
another is natural. Human survival is dependent of it. Today, our
consciousness of the interdependence and the interconnectedness of
all living systems is diminished. Technology, physical, legal and
bureaucratic structures allow us to act as if we live apart from
each other. We have become dominated by the timing of Chronos, the
time of day, hours, minutes and seconds. We have lost our connection
in his book The Clock of the Long Now describes a fascinating
continuum of human activity that he believes is required for any
adaptable and robust civilisation (see sidebar, Continuum of Human
Processes). At the top of the continuum are the processes of fashion
and commerce. At the bottom are the processes of culture and nature.
Each of these processes has their own rhythm and pace. The higher on
the continuum the faster the processes are. Fashion for example is
frivolous and changes season to season. The lower on the continuum
the slower the processes are. Culture moves at the pace of language
and religion. Brand’s point is that the pacing of these processes
is interdependent and we need to keep them in balance. What is
happening today is that the processes of commerce and fashion are
dominating and as a result the processes of culture and nature are
Continuum of Human Processes
has influenced our conception of time. His work has led us to move
away from the dominance of Chronos and to be open to Kairos. We see
Philia as a part of the larger good that moves in a slower way. Our
temptation is to move quickly to solutions, to fall into the trap of
social engineering and community ‘building’ because the
processes that stimulate natural resilience take more time than we
want and are not conducive to political expediency. Sometimes we are
unaware of the resiliency that exists or simply do not believe in
the capacity of people to solve their own mysteries.
full citizenship for people who have been marginalized our tendency
is to forge ahead and create new programs, build new structures.
This approach is the one we are all familiar with. We feel the
pressure of the injustice and want to produce results quickly.
However, our attempts at social engineering, have often resulted in
professionalized responses that lead to the destruction of the
natural impulse of other citizens to extend their caring, and in
turn receive, expect and recognise the contributions of those who
have been labelled or marginalized. In other words well intentioned
but hastily implemented ‘solutions’ can actually destroy the
natural resilience of our communities.
Philia has led
us to appreciate that the task at hand is to uncover our collective
reserve of human warmth, to let our human resilience re-surface.
Before creating new programs and building new structures we need to
explore how to remove the barriers to the expression of our innate
sociability. This work needs to be done following the timing of
One of the
major barriers to full and reciprocal inclusion is our materially
driven conception of time. Ruled by Chronos, cellular telephones,
e-mails and faxes seem omnipresent now that we have crossed the
threshold into the new millennium. We are busier and busier trying
to keep pace with the global technology that allows us to
communicate anywhere and anytime. Twenty-four seven is the new
expectation. In our haste we have lost touch with ourselves, our
neighbours and the living rhythms of the cosmos. As we scramble to
meet economic pressures the world narrows down to our immediate
needs. There is little time to learn about and relate to the fate of
the world, our communities and fellow citizens. There is little
energy to open our hearts.
With Philia we
are learning about working in the dimension of right and timely
actions that are aligned with the processes of the living systems we
are a part of. In practical terms this often calls on us to be
rather that to do. In order to attune ourselves we sometimes need to
pause, to wait for inspiration before we act. Opening the human
spirit, unleashing the reserve of human caring at the heart of
Philia will require our creativity, faith, courage and conviction.
Above all it will require that we give each other the gift of time,
the gift to simply be. For it is when we do this that Kairos
manifests and the pathways to right and timely action appear.
Time & Community