More than ever, this period of withdrawal from the hum and buzz has me thinking about our culture. A culture is cultivated, first by family, then by a larger group—be it city, state, nation, or religion, or...? To cultivate is to strive after. This striving defines a collective identity. What principles will guide us as we re-engage in this struggle? Can we find accord, as Emile Durkheim observed, in a “fusion of consciences”? Durkheim believed that “by the mere fact of coming together, thinking together, feeling together, acting together” we can achieve transcendence. This transcendence is where new solutions to our problems lie—by striving together, toward an end. And, as the 18th century Rabbi Nachman of Breslov observed, “Once people start speaking to each other and telling stories to each other, they generate alternate worlds. A story isn’t an argument or a collection of data. It contains multiple meanings that can be discussed, questioned and reinterpreted. Storytelling becomes central to conquering fear. It’s a way of naming and making sense of fear and imagining different routes out. Storytellers expand the consciousness, waken the sleeping self and give their hearers the words and motifs to use for themselves. Stories create new ways of seeing, which lead to new ways of feeling and thinking.”

Dare I admit that my aim is to encourage and inspire love for each other and our planet? Without loving each other, why would we bother? How could we create new ways of seeing each other? Or imagine new ways out? As a friend once said, “Everything is about loving and not loving.”

Ann Buxie

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