Note: below is a summary of the book discussion we had on Sept. 14th of the book Blessed Unrest: http://web.meetup.com/27/calendar/8433796/
Our time is a time of transformation in human history. And it is a very important transformation. There are a lot of books coming up recently trying to reflect on our experience so far and figure out what kind of transformation we are going through. Blessed Unrest is one of them.
First a brief introduction of the book.
The book is trying to describe various grassroots movements that have being going on for centuries, how recently many small organizations spring up and emerge on the web, forming the largest social movement ever in history, but largely unnoticed or ignored by the media. The author traced each movement to its beginning, and described its evolving and different views within the movement. So it is good to read this book to get a picture of these movements. There are a lot of names in the book. It is good to look them up and get to know more about those movements. So if you work with the grassroots movements, this book should be helpful for you.
But I feel this book didn’t spend a lot of passages in describing this largest movement itself that formed on the web recently. For me, what I expect to read from the book is to know more about this movement itself, how it is structured, why it comes together, how it is going to evolve, what are the forces that shape them, and so on. I didn’t get much of this kind of answers from this author. The author offered a lot of good reflection on capitalism and western culture. But he didn’t offer a innovative coherent consistent framework for this movement and our future. So here I want to expand on that, trying to explore the topic of how we can better understand our time.
As in the book, I think it is right to treat our planet as an organic whole. It is a biosphere. Within this biosphere, it is consciousness of the human world. And people have core values that they treat valuable in their consciousness. So let us see what kind of context we are in now. In our time because of technology breakthrough this organic whole is becoming smaller and smaller. Different cultures are more in touch with each other. At the same time, people’s consciousness are connected on the web, and its flow can be connected and channeled by software. In the past, the violent force has been the dominate forces in shaping the history. When different cultures came together. cultures that were better at killing people won. People get into power by being better at using violent forces. But in our time, the peaceful forces are more able to emerge and overcome the violent forces. So the consciousness of the majority won’t be suppressed by a small group of minority who are already in power. These peaceful forces include that people want happiness, they want to be good at what they are doing, they want to help other people. On a deeper level. the peaceful forces are beauty, fun/play, and love. These are the core values that drive people. And these core values are going to be more and more expressed at the level of the whole.
In the book, the author touched on some of those peaceful forces, and pointed out that is what we are. PLAYING is covered in page 187. “Play is infinite game. Competition is finite game.” The author also points out LOVE too.
I think understanding these peaceful forces and helping them function will drive the direction of this largest social movement.
We then went on to discuss several specific points in the book that will help us to explore deeper of certain issues.
We covered MLK’s nonviolence and self-defense and Thoreau’s tendency to use violence. People often have confusion on nonviolence and the need for self-defense. By having a discussion of it and getting different views from people, it helps us to clarify and get deeper insights.
The following are some other points we intended to discuss but didn’t get enough time for them.
“Organic” means it is an evolving process. It is helpful to think of how our cultures grow in the way of how individuals grow. Individuals all have their own starting point and their initial focus. So as they grow, they become better at something, and ignorant of some other things. It is hard for individuals to realize what they are ignorant of. But by getting in touch with other individuals, they exposed themselves to other possibilities. Individuals shine on each other. Thus individuals can have breakthrough, realizing the full potential within themselves. So the same as how individuals learn, cultures learn from each other and are able to break through their ignorance and realize their full potential by getting in touch with other cultures.
I try to imagine what kind of world, what kind of history we would have had if the encountering of different cultures has undergone a more peaceful and organic process. At least, we could have avoided that bloody history.
Whole. The western culture is very good at dividing things into small parts for analysis. I think it is time now to think in term of the whole. Bring your understanding of all the small parts and all the dimensions together to help you understand the whole.
I recently finished my essay on peace, which is very much related to topics of this book: