Friday, June 18, 2010

Leading in an 'Unthinkable' World - the Transformation to Holistic Community

"Particularly in the wake of the global economic crisis, we need to rethink our values, redesign our systems, and rebuild our institutions to make them more proactive and strategic, more inclusive, more reflective of the new geo-political and geo-economic circumstances, and more reflective of inter-generational accountability and responsibility." (from the Preface to "Everybody's Business" a 'Report of the Global Redesign Initiative')

Because occasionally assessing one's experience can prove helpful in navigating destiny's footpath, I've been pondering the sequence of events and developments lately, that have transpired since our initial City of Peace conference back in November.  This assembly featuring Dr. Doug Bailey, served as a gathering for Roanoke civic leaders, local clergy, and community members, and culminated in an invitation by Carol Tuning, Human Services Coordinator for Roanoke's Homeless Assistance Team (HAT) and Chair of the Blue Ridge Continuum of Care, to co-host a service along with Congregations in Action (CIA) in commemoration of National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day.  The cooperative planning of this event in turn, resulted in a ceremonial observance on December 18th at Greene Memorial Methodist Church.

Also, in assisting a collaborative effort between the Roanoke Valley Alleghany Regional Advisory Council (RVARAC) and the Council of Community Services with con-ducting the Winter Shelter Survey Report (2010), an opportunity was extended in February to meet with members of Roanoke's Economic Development Department who'd also assumed responsibility for heading Richard Florida's Creative Connectors.  In part, but arising primarily from this author's interest in sustainability and social entrepreneurship, the session's dialogue was summarized in an email entitled, 'Bridging Community Connection' and relayed back to those who'd attended.

In an effort to further extend its outreach within the immediate community, 'city of peace' next joined with "S.T.A.R. (Spirit of Tolerance and Art in the Region) in concert with local civic and interfaith groups" to host a BridgeWalk on March 28th as a "means of nurturing 'tolerance, diversity, and understanding in (our) ever-evolving community'."  This site subsequently supported the affair's theme by initiating an 'event page' at Facebook and publishing an accompanying piece entitled, Bridging Community Gaps . . . 'Body and Soul'.

Sneak Peek
Around this same time however, the year-long relationship between Florida's 'creative communities leadership pro-gram' and Roanoke was coming to an unceremonious end.  Much to his credit though, Kirk Avenue Music Hall founder Ed Walker, who with the city had "split the bill for Florida's $50,000" two-day fee, determined instead, now was a superb time to celebrate its "second annual gathering of the tribes". The mini block-party, featuring an appearance by Senator Mark Warner along with My Radio, whose "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah" had been showcased in a newly released trailer for The Joneses', bestowed a certain credibility to Roanoke's aspirations of being recognized as 'Virginia's Music City'.

In the wake of all this activity, the article's author also had the privilege of meeting a group of innovators who reflect the very essence of community in Roanoke's Grandin Village, and contribute to their efforts in coordinating events for Earth Day 2010.  It should be noted, these individuals constitute the front line of putting ideas related to sustainable culture into practical application and are thus, well deserving of our respect and admiration for so doing.

An 'Unthinkable' World
"National and local governments are consumed by social and political challenges at home as they contend with crisis-related economic slowdowns and fiscal deficits.  The financial industry has just experienced one of its worst governance failures in history resulting in an enormous privatization of gains and socialization of losses with which societies will be coping for years to come." (from "Everybody's Business: Strengthening International Cooperation in a More Interdependent World")

For a sundry of different reasons, I've developed an astute awareness over the last four years of the existence of disturbing parallels between 1930's Fascist Europe and the postmodern world of today.  Consequently, but from my perspective, a United States' citizenry appears to be adopting a comparable pedagogic subservience to impoverished political ideologies as did the Axis powers prior to World War II.  Therefore, and whether we're especially cognizant of it or not, navigating the didactic of individual choice in our day-to-day socioeconomic relations is assuming almost Biblical significance and likely to prove nearly as vital in shaping our evolutionary future(s).
"Civilization – not the institutional order – is in a critical condition, one brought on by the failure of our intellectual and spiritual immune systems to resist the virus of institutionalism. This crisis is not to be found in Washington, or Detroit, or on Wall Street, but in our thinking about who we are as individuals and as members of society. As long as we revere the interests of organizations more highly than we do our own; as long as we continue to invest the lives of our children and grandchildren as resources for institutional consumption, this crisis will continue unto the disintegration of civilization itself." (Butler Shaffer from, "The Establishment in Crisis")
Consequently, when faced with such pressing realities, it's absolutely crucial we begin to acknowledge that evolutionary
development isn't strictly a given, linear, function.  In fact, and at virtually any point, it's subject to diversions which can transfigure otherwise purposeful objectives into heinous acts of deprivation which subsequently represent an increased likelihood for apocalypse.

Along these same lines, but in practical terms, perhaps no one was any more central in negotiating and hence affecting, the underlying structure of the contemporary (global) economic/monetary system to which I've already alluded, than John Maynard Keynes. As "a delegate of the British Treasury" to the Versailles Conference which set the terms for the payment of reparations following World War I and author of The Economic Consequences of the Peace, Keynes' input was especially instrumental in forming the International Monetary Fund as an elemental component of the Bretton Woods System at the end of World War II.
"The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and co-operation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life." ("Adolf Hitler's religious views" from, My New Order - 1941)
Towards Holistic Community

What has become increasingly obvious with the passage of time however, is that the sheer magnitude of change occurring around us is nothing less than epochal.  From an integral perspective however, that is, one viewing evolutionary development as a process weaving its way through premodern, modern, and postmodern unfolding (see, "Economic Timeline from an Integral Perspective"); all within the context of four interrelated dimensions of reality (see AQAL), 'the future holds phenomenal potential for human realization'.  Yet, and at the same time, perhaps a caveat should be issued; 'if we don't first annihilate each other in getting there'.

As a result, the technological advances undergirding our current realities have brought about a clash, or perhaps more accurately, a convergence of cultures along with their respective worldviews, on a scale that's rarely, if ever, occurred be-fore.  Similarly, the 'truth claims' associated with these cultures, as translated by science, theology, or philosophy, are evincing new borders of contact and communication for interaction and relationship between previously disjoined agents, members, and players.

Yet, interestingly enough, it's at this point of encounter, not only is the role of government its most captivating, but the prospect of a 'risen Christ' likewise, most consummate.  Considering the matter of governance, Butler Shaffer has written a fascinating, if not exhaustive, exposition entitled, Boundaries of Order wherein he boldly proposes the ownership of private property as a social system.  If nothing else, Shaffer's treatise is an astutely articulated, yet scathing condemnation of the State's incapacity "as a pyramidal model" to serve "any socially useful end", owing primarily to a necessitated reliance on violence in fulfilling its decidedly collectivist agenda (see "Private Property as a Social System").

Yet somewhat oddly, the extent to which this viewpoint resounds a comparable theme to that of 20th Century French cleric André Trocmé (1901-1971), is intriguing to say the least.  Having experienced the needlessness of World War I firsthand, this same background "cemented his orientation as a pacifist" early on.  Consequently, on the first Sunday following France's surrender "to the Nazis" in June 1942 and its subsequent agreement "to arrest and deport" on demand, exiles fleeing the Third Reich; Trocmé and fellow pastor Edouard Theis "preached about resistance:
Jewish Children Sheltered in Le Chamon-sur-Lignon
Tremendous pressure will be put on us to submit passively to a totalitarian ideology. If they do not succeed in subjugating our souls, at least they will want to subjugate our bodies. The duty of Christians is to use the weapons of the Spirit to oppose the violence that they will try to put on our consciences. We appeal to all our brothers in Christ to refuse to cooperate with this violence…"
Thus, having established the L’École Nouvelle Cévenole with Theis in 1938, Trocmé became a key figure in the region's forming of "a massive, organized network to protect and even educate Jewish children who had been taken out of internment camps".  Operating in covert resistance to Hitler's Final Solution to the Jewish question, community members "opened their homes to the refugees, sometimes to stay, sometimes to wait until accommodations could be arranged elsewhere or until they could be smuggled across the Swiss border."  Ultimately, this unified effort is said to have "provided a haven or safe passage" for between 2,500 to 3,500 refugees (see, Jesus and the Nonviolent Revolution).
"All of us, Christian and non-Christian alike, are responsible for the hunger, injustice, egoism, exploitation, and wars that devastate our time. Christians bear special responsibility: knowing that God can change both people and their situations, the disciple of Jesus can help bring into being God’s future for humanity." (André Trocmé from the Preface to Jesus and the Nonviolent Revolution)
Amazingly enough however, and as a heroic testament to his community's power to stand down oppression, Trocmé seems to direct credit for that feat towards far loftier aspirations in, Jesus and the Nonviolent Revolution (1961).  So, while his underlying premise on one hand is exquisitely simple, at the same time it's radically powerful in positing his conclusion that -- Jesus Christ's mission on earth, proclaimed the arrival of God's Kingdom based on Jubilee principles of the Old Testament.  In a very cogent exegesis then, Trocmé outlines the scriptural foundation of a social order reflecting the immutable plan of God's intended will for world justice and humanity's liberation from the imposed tyranny of debt, slavery, and oppression.

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