Love, Conversation, Community: Three Magic Words

Love Conversation Community
Since I began my weblog in 2003, I’ve shifted my topics and the vocabulary of my articles from those associated with a traditional ‘Civilization’ social worldview (i.e. mostly articles about the prevalent political and economic regimes, the existing social structure and culture) to a more holistic (and some would say idealized) ‘Natural’ social worldview (i.e. mostly articles about more natural political, social, economic and education systems — see graphic above, lower left).

Recently, as a result of many conversations (almost all with women) about the subjects of love, conversation and community*, I’ve come to realize that this ‘Natural’ social worldview has two flavours: a ‘masculine’ analytical one and a ‘feminine’ integrative one (lower right graphic), with different vocabularies and different understandings of how change occurs in the real world — the feminine integrative understanding being one of one person at a time Letting-Themselves-Change, rather than the evolutionary/revolutionary change process espoused by most male progressives.

This article is an attempt to explain how these masculine and feminine ‘Natural’ social worldviews are consistent. I originally wanted to synthesize them into one, but they seem to be as irreducibly binary as yin and yang.

When there is love, conversation has purpose, context, engagement, trust (while, without love, conversation is sterile and selfish). The best conversations are in fact a form of play. Good conversation entails listening and paying attention, and it is through this that we learn (unschooled), discover, develop capacity to understand how the world works and how to make it better. The best conversations are a form of ‘making love’ — empathetic, collaborative, even erotic. One could even argue that sex is a form of wordless conversation.

The best conversations are also polyamorous (all participants love and trust each other) — this provides safety from hurt and cruelty, and this safety encourages openness, honesty, courage, and true innovation.

We are constrained in our ability to change by our inability to envision different ways to do things, see things, live, make a living. We can overcome these constraints, and Let-Ourselves-Change, only when we see a demonstration of other, more intuitively sensible, working models. How are such models created? As experiments, as play, by the right, loving people, conversing in community about the right issues, using the right methods. Not communities of practice or communities of interest. Communities of passion, of love.

Intentional Communities (and communes) are examples of models of a better way to live and self-manage our political and social affairs, an improvement over the corporatist-dominated and disconnected state politics and the atomized nuclear families that characterize our lonely and dysfunctional civilization society.

What I have called Natural Enterprises — non-hierarchical, joyous, customer-responsive, responsible, sustainable, community-based businesses, are similarly models of a better way to make a living, compared to the destructive, acquisitive, competitive, oligopoly-prone corporatist businesses. Natural Enterprises are a form of Intentional Community, and both are products of their partners’ shared passion and love, created by self-managed communities through conversation with the larger communities in which they operate.

Natural Enterprises exist in a Gift/Generosity Economy, one of sharing, giving away in love in the expectation that others will give generously in return. The work of self-management, consensus, self-creation of such communities are acts of love which evolve through conversation.

Conversations could be seen as a form of Open Space event. Like other Open Space events they begin with a generous invitation, and their success depends on how well the invitation is crafted, who it attracts, the love and passion of participants, and their capacity to listen, pay attention, Let-Themselves-Change, and converse. (The word ‘converse’ comes from the Latin meaning ‘to move with’; the word ‘community’ comes from the Latin meaning ‘shared, unified’.)

Do you see how these masculine and feminine Natural social worldview models and vocabularies relate to and complement each other? They are different ‘languages’ saying the same thing — about a better way to live, perceive, understand, relate, and make a living. Since I’ve learned to use the ‘feminine’ language (with the help of my suddenly predominantly female commenters and e-mailers) I’ve found it a more powerful, intuitive, grounded language than the analytical ‘masculine’ language. But boy it’s tough to learn a new language when you’re so comfortable with the old one!

Life’s meaning emerges from conversation in community with people you love.

This pretty well says it all, doesn’t it? Just about anything important you have to say about politics, economics, education, society, technology, art etc. can be couched in the language of these three magic words: love, conversation, community.

Take Knowledge Management for example. Forget trying to explain it in terms of content, websites, sharing and social networking. KM is simply the art enabling trusted, context-rich conversations among the appropriate members of communities about things these communities are passionate about. That’s it!

Whether you want to change the political or economic system, save the whales, stop global warming, reform education, spark innovation or anything else, the answer is in these three magic words, in how meaning and understanding of what needs to be done emerges from conversation in community with people you love,people who care.

Now you know how to save the world.

Category: We need a new one for this!

* I credit Nancy White and her colleagues, Juanita Brown, Nancy Margulies and Amy Lenzo with getting me on this three-word jag; they ‘got’ this long before I did.

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7 Responses to Love, Conversation, Community: Three Magic Words

  1. David Parkinson says:

    I like what’s happening here lately… sometimes I feel as though you’re heading off into space, but then again I’ve been around long enough to trust your instincts, so I get the message that I need to slow down, take time, think about what you’re saying — and more importantly WHY you’re saying it — and try to let it sink in. That makes this blog unique in my experience: it really does feel like a dialogue that rewards patience and accommodation and thoughtfulness.As always, thank you for that.– David

  2. Hi Dave,Awesome post! Things are falling into place here i feel!!Keep us all updated!Regards,Srinath

  3. Mariella says:

    Ok,..muchas gracias..!Just remember yin is inside yang and yang inside yin…

  4. Theresa says:

    I never would have thought of the idea that sex is a form of conversation but of course it makes perfect sense when you think about it. Also, the idea of passion driven community explains a lot of things and I agree with your general assessment. However….it could be a form of group think if it is not made up of people who are individualists at heart. Yes, the passion gives the community heat and energy and momentum. Individuals give it their own unique values. I think one of the problems with communes is the tendency for them to be led by only one person who plays the role of the visiionary. The members either buy into his vision or they don’t. Jim Jones kind of thing. Don’t get me wrong – I fully support your efforts to create an intentional community, I just wanted to draw attention to the dangers of your dominating it with your own “vision”. Also, I must say that despite everything I’ve learned from reading your blog I don’t agree with your final idea here – however carefully worded – that purpose “emerges out of community”. I believe that one’s individual purpose and vision comes from solitude. Everyone has to have his time in the wilderness. Islamic peoople retreat to the desert to find their focus, Jesus had his time in the “wilderness’ also, aboriginal people’s have had these traditions of a solo vision quest also. “Meaning” emerges out of “wilderness”. Both the metaphorical and the natural wilderness This is why I feel that the preservation of a true natural wilderness in our country and in our collective psych is so important. I recall leaving a comment here once, in which I responded to one of your posts by quoting Barry Lopez who said that “the wilderness is an antidote to our modern feelings of alienation”. (not sure if I got the words exact on that, going on memory). Remember, a wilderness is not a protected nature park or sanctuary – its wild and uncontrollable. You need to feel lost and to find your way before avision emerges. “I once was lost but now am found”…

  5. Meryn Stol says:

    I really love this post.I don’t know if it’s right to name the two viewpoints masculine and feminine respectively, but having been in an analytical (masculine?) mindset for long, I’ve too been experiencing the benefits of a more personal/emotional view on things.I think it’s mainly about reframing a message in emotional terms, which makes it all the more powerful. It reminds of the framework outlined in Made to Stick. I can highly recommended this book. As I see it, the main problem of using scientific language is that it doesn’t evoke much feeling. The ‘feminine’ viewpoint offers much more opportunities to provide emotionally rich stories as examples, which helps people understand how the subject relate to them personally.

  6. Meryn Stol says:

    One more thing: “Life’s meaning emerges from conversation in community with people you love. ” Did you just make this up?The meaning of life as an emergent phenomenon is a really interesting concept. Do you know of scholars which discussed this before?

  7. Dave Pollard says:

    Yes, Wonderful, Thank you all for these insightful and encouraging comments. It’s good to hear I’m not mangling my new language *too* badly! Meryn, re: your question as to the origin of the quote, it’s my restatement of the recurring messages of the four women cited at the bottom of the article. As Procol Harum said: “The words have all been writ’ by one before us, we’re taking turns in trying to pass them on”.

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