Transform the System News - May 2018

Still Looking for Holistic Community

I seek a community whose members promote comprehensive transformation, aim to become better human beings, and set aside time to support each other with those efforts.

That’s it -- the essential ingredients of a holistic community that involves the whole person and helps change the whole world. It seems straightforward and sensible. From time to time, I’ve tasted holistic community enough to convince me it’s practical. But those experiences, including my own efforts to organize one, have been fleeting, and I know of none I can join.

My primary motivation is that I believe holistic communities could help relieve suffering. As I address in Transform the System: A Work in Progress, it seems to me that most social change efforts specialize in ways that undermine their effectiveness. Most focus on either the outer world or the inner world. Holistic communities that integrate the two could provide mutual support for both open-ended self-development and improvements in the external world, including political action to impact public policy.

A mission statement for a network of holistic communities might be something like: to help transform our country into a compassionate community dedicated to the common good of all humanity, our own people, the environment, and life itself. That wording would enable people in any country to endorse it.

To help achieve that mission, community members might adopt a commitment such as:

Change Myself, Change the World: A Commitment

I commit to:

  • Pay attention to, control, and try to change thoughts and feelings that can lead to oppressive or counterproductive behavior.  
  • Acknowledge my mistakes and resolve to avoid them in the future.
  • Become a better human being and love myself and others in every situation.
  • Talk about my efforts with close friends and listen to them talk about their efforts.
  • Support the development of social structures that nurture personal and community empowerment.
  • Help transform my nation into a compassionate community dedicated to the common good of all humanity, our own people, the environment, and life itself.
  • Help improve my nation’s public policies with measures such as assuring living wage job opportunities and taking steps to protect the less powerful from arbitrary discrimination and oppression inflicted on them by the more powerful.

In addition to informal, spontaneous activities that emerge naturally in any community, intentional mutual support in a holistic community could involve methods such as: 1) begin meetings with a moment of silence for people to meditate, pray, or reflect on the meeting’s agenda, and/or; 2) “check in” with reports on recent personal and political change efforts. (I’ll maintain a list of such methods at “Possible Methods for How Group Members Can Support Each Other with Their Self-Development.”)

Affirming a commitment to critical self-examination and setting aside time to report on those efforts -- on occasion doing so confidentially with trusted allies -- can deepen personal growth.

A network of holistic communities could include many different kind of groups, including book clubs, study groups, and activist organizations. Those groups could share the same mission, use the same method(s) for pursuing that mission, and affiliate with the network. That common ground could help nurture a sense of community among a wide variety of groups in multiple countries.

The specific wording of the mission statement and methods as suggested here is not critical. They’re merely offered to clarify the concept. Hopefully others can improve on them.

Now, actively waiting, I keep my eyes and ears open for a community to join. My life is good and I enjoy my frequent solitude. But I believe a holistic community could be of service to humanity, and enrich my own life.

In the meantime, I support political actions from time to time, welcome invitations to discuss these issues, and focus on building the TransformTheSystem.org website. On that site, I’ll update resources, present new proposals for action, post essays and reviews of books and articles, and engage in public dialogs. It may take 2-3 years to build the site into the clearinghouse of information and analysis that I envision. But I want to pull together into one place the wide variety of material that has shaped and is shaping my worldview.

To receive occasional reports on additions to the site, subscribe to Transform The System News. To engage in public dialog about these issues, you can comment on blog posts on the site’s home page.

Together, perhaps we can plant seeds that will contribute to positive social change.