a world without people

8-listening-for-the

“You need to be generous to yourself in order to receive the love that surrounds you … a few inches away … at the edge of your soul … .”*

‘New social movements do not come from those in the centres of power.  The same will hold true for much of the leadership required to create a regenerative society.  Look to the periphery, to people and places where commitment to the status quo is low and where hearts and minds are most open to the new.’**

Words are vital to our existence.  We fill our days with words: speaking, writing, broadcasting, digitalising them.  Our technologies mean it’s possible for us to send our words faster and more accurately around the globe.  With the growth of information and experience industries, words are being commoditised like never before:

‘We live in the gossip of the moment and the rumours of the hour.  It is not as if we never hear the truth at all, but we don’t realise its overwhelming significance.  It is an extra, an aside.’^

Words rush over in in busyness, or comfort us in our tiredness, they reinforce us in our perspectives and worldview.  Sometimes, though, a new word comes to us, breaks through into our consciousness.

A gentle whisper.

A thin silence.

Coming from outside our familiar world, forming in the extremities of our consciousness, perhaps from a stranger, someone who brings a thought to us that no one else in our hermetically sealed world speaks.

Sherry Turkle poses many questions about the kind of world we are creating through our technologies.  We’re advancing our technology from the work place to relationships.  It is easier to send a text than phone someone, an email is easier than a meeting; in a sharp insight, Turkle proffers :

‘We ask technology to perform what used to be “love’s labour”: taking care of each other. … Philosophers say that our capacity to put ourselves in the place of another is essential to being human.  Perhaps when people lose this ability, robots seem appropriate company because they share this incapacity. … People are scarce, or have made themselves scarce.’^^

We live in a world of more than seven billion citizens, but as technology becomes increasingly immersive, those who bring us the enlivening word from the edge appear to be more scarce.

Last night, I was part of a small group of people, around a dozen, who’ll be coming together every week for the next two months.  Although there’s an online course at the centre of this tribe, offering incredible ideas and possibilities, this human gathering will be where the promise of possibility and transformation are found.

(*John O’Donohue, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)
(**From Peter Senge’s The Necessary Revolution.)
(^From Eugene Peterson’s Run with the Horses.)
(^^From Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.  Turtle has earlier told of how Japan has decided not to care for its senior citizens through foreign labour, but will build robots to do it.)

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