C-23. As one

How best to build community as a productive change agent? What might we build on for individuals to better act as one? Not just to be as one in unison or aggregate but to becoming and being as one (i.e., building community as body and step in dynamic interdependent balance [XI]). Without becoming dysfunctional, as with the “mob” form of as one. Which of our relationships might best help us develop as an effective collective operating system? Better able to do things together….

Friends do things together. Partners do things together. Married couples do things together. Families do things together. Teams do things together. Organizations do things together. Companies do things together. Nations do things together…. Until they don’t.

We have come to be able to be and act as one, connecting and forming relationships in some sense, in some ways, to some degree. From friends and family to tribe and nation, we have made something of the possibility of many unities, as William James urged. But how and how well do we act as one? We are “social,” but the behavioral we is weak, and for that matter we are not all that good at being social. Dysfunction plagues every relationship, when not within that relationship then between that relationship and other step takers – individual or not. Differences among particular behaviors (e.g., habits, traditions, purposes [I: Sbeh]) grate against each other.

How good are our customary behaviors as foundations for community? Where is the oneness on which to build, to give stability during the difference making of change efforts? Are a subdued politeness, a smile, a shared focal interest …are those all that we have to offer to initiate and carry forward a collective relationship?

For starters, we might envision the effort involved. This is not the 50-50 split of costs or benefits between, say, two partners. This is the 50-50 between individual and community, so that the total effort is 200% effort, 100% (or more!) for each individual. This with the reasonable expectation that the individual x community dynamic (XI) will pay off handsomely in what the community contributes to the individual – not least in the diminution of hard collisions involving those individuals.

But how is that effort to be structured? Will that structure embody behavioral principles, matters of functional necessity especially? Will individuals as community members possess a common sense about behavior per se – as contrasted with the common sense that advances one problem solution over any other? (The comfort of shared solutions, community of a sort, will wilt when a situational problem arises that overwhelms their collective capability. What is needed is a community that has solved the behavioral problem and is prepared to solve more of its situational problems [I: Pbeh, Psit].) Should not the development of that communal common sense be at the heart of formal and informal education (App. IV)? Basic to the elementary in education, so to speak (XI)?

How should we envision composing an operating system, a procedural tool (App. VII), as an approach to building community? Theoretically, the behavioral problem is to see what our functional needs (Topics VI-XI) suggest for the composing, via procedural tools, of structures which, used as product- tools (V), can help carry out the needed functions (XI; C-18). Such would constitute a behavioral foundation for establishing community as an effective behavioral entity.

Then there is the matter of gappiness, especially that involving other human step takers (VI), where the number of potential bridges implied increases dramatically once we pass the relatively simple case of two actors and their single gap. (Relatively simple only as to number of gaps: Consider the limited viability in the dyad of voting as a minding tool: Too many ties, often with dysfunctional behavioral consequences). Other people in a situation magnify the behavioral problem (I: Pbeh), bringing into play as they do the potential of hard collisions. We come up with control structures and control entities to cope. We build organizations. But then we encounter (if we are paying attention) problems in consequence (0, I) of those structures, such as the unbridged gaps of alienation – or, even worse, a kind of deification in which we see these structures as inviolable, forgetting they were only some of the possible responses to functional need.

Concepts like participation and engagement pose something of a dilemma. We need to encourage whatever will help develop a healthy, strong dynamic relationship of individual and community (XI). But the particular behaviors thus engendered may breed less-than-effective control structures and entities (VI), which although designed for functionality are sometimes far from achieving what is needed.

(c) 2011 R. F. Carter