Visions of a New Us: Essays and Ideas for Co-Creating the Future

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From the Introduction:

Self-consciousness is a funny thing. When I was 13, it was definitely a Bad Thing, my own personal spotlight highlighting all my flaws. Now that I’ve gotten older and my sense of self has grown stronger, I can take that light, whose rays seem not so harsh these days, and reflect them off of me so that they shine on the road of life that I walk. I can use my self-consciousness to see where I’ve been and where I’m going. And since I believe that we are all interconnected, indeed, we are all one and mutually self-conscious, the question becomes, where are we headed? Is it where we want to go? How do we get to where we want to go? We’re not alone in our journey; we have many companions and guides—some that you might not realize, even, because they’ve been “just the scenery” until now.

Although it is not new to think that “I am because we are,” a simplification of a Zulu maxim, umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu ("a person is a person through [other] persons"), it can be a challenge to live that way if you didn’t grow up living that way. Indeed, what does it mean to live as one who Is because and only because others Are? How does their/your being generate me? An anthropologist might simply interpret that to mean that culture dictates identity or that the context set by others constrains how you can act. Those certainly are true, but I also see the question going more deeply than that. Is my existence (and yours, and yours…) such an integral piece of the whole that, without it, We would be incomplete? If the answer is yes, then We must be a Being that transcends death. And what sort of a being is this We to which I belong, which gives me me? If our relationship to each other is so profound and so intimately connected, then what is my relation and my responsibility to you, because, in a deep sense, you are me?

As I think about this kind of a Being that We Are that gives me my being, I am at a loss for words that can express it. Much of my life has been a quest for finding or inventing such words. You will see some of them crop up in several essays here. I liken them to Thomas Edison’s first attempts to make a light bulb. He had the basic idea, but it took thousands of trials and refinements to get one that worked well. I invite you to my language laboratory to help me test and refine ways to express our connectedness from the perspective of knowing just how profoundly connected We are.

If you’re still with me and haven’t put this down yet, I hope you enjoy these essays about life, love, language, and Us.

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