Guest Blog – THE HUMAN COMMUNITY NETWORK: A NEW COMMON SENSE FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

Earthrise_Revisited_2013

(This is the second in a series of guest blogs by Bill Parker from his paper titled “The Human Community Network: An Experimental Community.”)

The Human Community Network is the beginning of something quite new and very different from what is currently going on in our society and culture. The Human Community Network is an experimental community networked for the purpose of providing a forum in which people from all walks of life can identify the significant events shaping their lives and grasp the larger picture of our historic moment. It is a forum in which people explore the deeper aspects of the human experience in the midst of the historic moment they are living.

This is a forum in which people participate in designing new creative directions to bring: 1) equity, 2) justice, 3) responsibility and 4) non-violence to an emerging movement found in the economic, political, and cultural dimensions of society. This emerging movement is focused on how it brings benefit to the entire human community. This is also a forum in which a leadership style is developed that enables the transition of generations from the no longer, that which is collapsing or is corrupted, to the not yet, that which is emerging.

The concept of the Human Community Network is always in a dynamic stage of development shaped by an interactive process in which something of a consensus takes on a very tangible form and shape. The condition out of which this has emerged is one that acknowledges deep concern and a near vacuum of common sense in the key areas of our lives essential for the human community to be sustained: the Economic, Political, and Cultural. These are the social dynamics which make human community possible, or not. If they are corrupted, or not sustainable, then it is only a matter of time before the social fabric of the human community collapses as we may be seeing today.

The un-sustainability of the Economic dimension is visible in the overwhelming increase of wealth in the past ten years going to 1% of the population at the expense of the other 99% of the population through the decline in employee wages, reduced or increased costs of benefits, the decline of the community social support system, and the deterioration of the nation’s State and local infrastructure. The economy is running for the benefit of the few and not for the benefit of the nation or human community as a whole.

The un-sustainability of the Political dimension is seen as an ineffective voice of the people in the face of thousands of full time, highly paid professionals with unlimited expense options working directly with legislators and congressmen in shaping laws and policies for the narrow interests of those whom they represent and who’s primary loyalty or interest is outside the actual needs of the nation or the human community.  The political process is overwhelmed by powers operating for the benefit of specific interests opposed to the peoples’ interests and the needs of the human community.

The un-sustainability of the Cultural dimension is seen in a turning away from community values toward individual isolation resulting in a notion of helplessness, authoritarian leadership and magical fantasies as reflected in the extremes of what we are seeing today. Other indications of this collapse are reflected in the economic dominance over education, the necessity of a consumer life style for the economy to work, and the profound divisions within communities of faith which are perpetrated throughout society.

While these realities are commonly seen by anyone in touch with the events of the day, there is a powerful realization we are not truly connected to anybody in any substantive way. We experience our lives as isolated, though we often relate to the isolation positively as a private and personal life style, yet we are separated from anything that could be considered human community. The outcome of this condition is the foreboding sense absolutely nothing can be done about our situation because we are “just normal individuals”. The culture works diligently, 24-7, to sustain the false belief that individuals can have no power to alter the course of historical development. All efforts of systemic change, or even a string of unity, are sliced and diced in a multitude of ways, only to confirm the notion individuals can have no impact on the realities to which we all bear witness.

The Human Community faces a situation held in place and sustained by an unwritten narrative about the underlying contradictions manifest in the current unsustainable or corrupt processes of our society.  These underlying contradictions are those realities that undermine, block, negate, or obfuscate every effort to address the unsustainable or corrupt aspects of the economic, political, and cultural processes.

In general, these contradictions are pervasive individualism, militaristic nationalism and economic dominion-ism. More specifically, these are experienced in the following ways:

1) Pervasive Individualism is found in the sustained isolation of persons from other persons in any substantive way. This isolation has been the cause of the breakdown of the human community in the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as the very possibility of people using their collective autonomy to restore unity on the long held values in the public domain. The points in society where thorough deliberation about these values, and what they mean in today’s societal context, have been reduced to a refuge of like minded ideologies, beliefs, and cults that actually threaten society’s well being and tends more toward division than arriving at any united understanding of the common good.

2) Militaristic Nationalism has replaced the spirit of the nation/state which brought the energy for economic, political and cultural development of a nation. This spirit was effective at a time when the economy was regional, the political process was local, and the culture was based on long standing traditions born out of a collective understanding of what it takes for human community to thrive. But all of that changes when the economy becomes global, the political process is subject to economic interests, and the culture is diverse and global locally. With these changes, national interdependence is a greater value in reality than national independence when it means nations can manipulate the economies of other nations, create wealth at the expense of other nations to the detriment of their people, can destroy the atmosphere and oceans, and in some cases, other nations’ lands and water sources.

3) Economic Dominion-ism has always been a factor for the human community to address but it normally pointed to external endeavors and along with religion has resulted in more wars, innocent suffering, and hatred for everybody. Today, however, it is also seen as an internal force working to micromanage every dimension of society to its own benefit. We have seen the privatization of what belongs in the public domain and the dominion of the economic interests in the political process.  This dominion extends, likewise, to non-governmental organizations, both public and private educational institutions at all levels, science, research, and faith institutions.

It is in this context the Human Community Network considers the underlying contradiction to be: “The isolation of people in such a way as to prevent their thinking from coming together to form a sense of unity and consensus warranting the individual and corporate action essential to alter the future.”  Yet, only people have the power to offset the immense power of the economic and special interests. It is only when the people reclaim values of the corporate along with values of the personal that they can assert the natural power they possess. Those values are at the base of any effective strategy.

What action then is possible in the face of this situation? How can change happen? What does the Human Community Network have to offer to this situation? Let us then look at how we may address these questions in what can be seen from a practical point of view as a “process of change”. How we come together to make a difference without getting trapped in the usual foils which doom such efforts, such as single subject activism, or action simply for the sake of doing something? How do we find ways to get anything effectively done when everyone already has a full life with plenty in it to do? Let us look at what the Human Community Network offers.

It is reasonable to ask, “What are the underlying values which guide the Human Community Network?” The following values are not based upon a sentimental notion of community, nor are they based upon a longing for a time long past. They are based rather upon processes, methods, actions and relationships foundational for human beings to take charge of their community for the benefit of the entire society. The 21st Century has made it clear to all human beings, regardless of whether or not it is acknowledged, that all decisions made affect all people everywhere. Further, the earth only has so many resources and somehow all people are responsible for using the resources in such a manner all people should be sustained from them while also caring for the earth. Also, it is evident all people need access to the goods necessary for life to be sustained. It is evident that throughout history human societies have found profound understanding and insight into the deepest aspect of being human as related to the care of all people. These gifts deserve attention, honor and respect.

The Human Community Network Values

It is out of this context twelve guiding values emerge and reflect themselves in the Human Community Network’s strategies for the future. These twelve guiding values are:

The human community:

Stands for unity within social, religious and cultural diversity as the only lasting basis for peace.

  1. Seeks a deeper understanding of what it means to be human within the human society.
  2. Enables the awareness that life is authentically connected to faith traditions.
  3. Creates artistic expression of its past, present and future
  4. Flourishes when ecological systems are balanced
  5. Redefines itself as a new form of community for a time of transition
  6. Sustains itself with vigilance for a just and equitable economy for its population
  7. Assures no human being can be subject to slavery or entrapment
  8. Works to see that complete medical care is accessible to all people
  9. Provides excellent public education for all children
  10. Secures safe, whole food production and clean water for all
  11. Cares for all of society when its people are engaged in a participatory political process

These guiding values are the underpinning realities essential for the human community to impact or alter the social process. Together they release a new social covenant. They create a way for people to talk differently about what it is to be a human being in society: a new story, a new narrative. What this story is can be created and sorted out by finding new forms of social responsibility through the process of figuring out new ways of effective action. This can occur where people come together, plan what needs to be done, give new significance to their engagement in shaping community at every level, and encourage every person to participate and be engaged in society. It is crucial there are systems and methods in place which give people free access to the knowledge and information they need to make decisions and to know what is going on at every level of society. There is a necessity for a deliberative system to be forged where people are inventing new ways of making decisions, forming consensus, and engaging local people in making decisions. Finally, all of these realities depend upon people constantly looking for ways to act effectively in society, where they can break through the morass of bureaucracy and find ways of diversifying the concentration of power.

The Human Community Network is moving in a direction that embraces the plausibility of systemic transformation and can interconnect those forces of transformation. It is engaged in awakening and equipping local communities in empowering them with a voice, their own voice. It is providing the practical methods essential for preparing an emerging generation of leaders in all disciplines and aspects of the human community. It will illuminate the depths of the faith traditions. It supports and initiates citizen awakenment and engagement locally and systemically.

We must focus our consciousness, energy and resources in such a way as to address the great work of our time, both locally and systemically, in order for human community to shape the quality of society in which we live. This great work is plausible only when thoughtful people decide to engage their lives in reclaiming the economic, civic, and cultural processes for the sake of the whole community and on behalf of the future.

It is to this situation the Human Community Network addresses itself. We invite you, should you be interested in this effort, to be a part of this experimental community, a body of thoughtful people, coming from all walks-of-life, who will come together and meet the winds of the future with the possibilities human community can offer.

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About Mark Y. A. Davies

Mark Davies is The Wimberly Professor of Social and Ecological Ethics and Director of the World House Institute for Social and Ecological Responsibility at Oklahoma City University. From 2009 to 2015, Mark was dean of the Petree College of Arts and Sciences and Wimberly Professor of Social Ethics at Oklahoma City University. Previously, Mark was dean of the Wimberly School of Religion at Oklahoma City University and Founding Director of the Vivian Wimberly Center for Ethics and Servant Leadership. Prior to becoming dean of the Wimberly School of Religion in 2002, he was associate dean of the Petree College of Arts and Sciences at Oklahoma City University and chair of the department of philosophy. Mark has published in the areas of Boston personalism, process philosophy and ethics, and ecological ethics. Dr. Davies serves on the United Methodist University Senate, which is “an elected body of professionals in higher education created by the General Conference to determine which schools, colleges, universities, and theological schools meet the criteria for listing as institutions affiliated with The United Methodist Church.” He and his wife Kristin live in Edmond, OK in the United States, and they have two daughters. The views expressed by the author in this blog do not necessarily represent the views of Oklahoma City University.
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