To know who we are, where we are, what we have is how we tend to us the word inalienable. It means we’re more likely to be at the centre rather than the edges. To risk any of these is to become an alien, an edge-person, an outsider.
In our modern world, we still struggle with people who aren’t like us, people who are different in the way they look and think, the stories they tell, the places they come from. It’s a view from the centre.
‘The embrace of a person’s uniqueness is what makes a community trustworthy.’*
This comment from Alex McManus is interesting because it asks us to see how a group, society, or nation’s ability to both see the differences in others and to value them are better measurements of the maturity of a people.
Nassim Taleb provides insight in inimitable fashion:
‘We find it in extremely bad taste for individuals to boast of their accomplishments; but when countries do so we call it “national pride.” […] The nation-state: apartheid without political incorrectness.’**
This is the self we cannot see from the centre. Richard Rohr speaks of this as the ego self. It’s a smaller self when each of us is capable of more:
‘The ego self is the unobserved self. If you do not find an objective standing point from which to look back at yourself, you will almost always be egocentric – identified with yourself instead of in relationship to yourself.’^
Edward Deci refers to this True Self as the intrinsic self
‘The intrinsic self is not a genetically programmed entity that simply unfolds with time. […] It is instead a set of potentials, interests, and capabilities that interact with the world, each affecting the other.’^^
What’s intriguing about Deci’s comment is this larger self can only develop through interactions with those on or beyond the edges of self: the inalienable must meet the alien, we might say.
Ben Zander tells of his father’s saying about our best interactions with people:
“Certain things in life are better done in person.”*^
As they share this, the Zanders are reflecting on the practice of enrolment – turning up, engagement with risk:
‘Enrolment is the art and practice of generating a spark of possibility for others to share.’*^
Risking deeper engagement includes the possibility of rejection – which is the experience of the alien. If this is so then it’s a conundrum for sure. The possibility of the larger life requires we walk away from our inalienable world, to become the outsider.
“perhaps, the wild ones among us are our only hope calling us back to our true nature’^*
(*From Alex McManus’ Makers of Fire.)
(**From Nassim Taleb’s The Bed of Procrustes.)
(^From Richard Rohr’s The Naked Now.)
(^From Edward Deci’s Why We Do What We Do.)
(*^From Benjamin and Rosamund Zander’s The Art of Possibility.)
(^*Joel McKerrow, quoted in the Northumbria Community‘s Morning Prayer.)