Family, Community & Organization

Today’s bonus blog supports Back to What’s Basic, where the final outcome is FAMILY. The subject is both timely and vitally important.

According to The Common Sense Book of Change:

Inside the FAMILY one learns to play out given roles. This makes later success in roles on the job and in the larger community possible. Clearly defined relationships make communication easy. Respectful cooperation with others earns trust and acceptance from the human family. Avoid roles not suited to your nature.

Family is the fundamental unit of society – the building block of community. It’s key to success at every larger level, lacking which entire civilizations crumble.

To restore today’s decaying foundations, however, Sages tell us to first look within. Thus, the Basic blog concludes:

The end goal is harmonious relationship with the entire human family. This reading is so value-rich that, to do it justice, I had to publish a self-standing bonus blog, Family, Community and Organization.

Bottom line: There’s intense pressure – coming from all levels – to destroy core unity. It starts with internal consciousness and extend outwards to breakdown the family unit and then social organization. What’s the consequence of this breakdown? Who wants it?

Do you? If not, what are you willing to do about it? When?

To help in rethinking what we take for granted at great risk, here are three supporting essays. Though originally written in the year 2000, they’re key to overcoming 2020 madness.

There’s a lot here. But it deserves your careful attention. What could be more basic to building a better future?

ESSAY 13. FAMILY

One who wishes to have a well-organized family should first cultivate his personality. / One who wishes to cultivate his personality should first regulate his mind. / One who wishes to regulate his mind should first be honest with his consciousness. One who wishes to be honest with his consciousness should first attain true knowledge. — Confucius, Great Commentary

In the family we learn love, patience, respect, nurturing, affirmation, and health. The family also teaches us about competition, domination, selfishness, and deceit. The family is thus a relatively efficient learning system for the development of mind, spirit, and body. It involves the whole self. — Tom Chappell, The Soul of a Business

For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. Jesus Christ, St. Matthew 12:50

THE FRONT

The Latin root of family means household establishment. An obsolete usage refers to all the people living in the same house, including servants and slaves. A later definition refers to all the relatives living in the same house, including extended family. Only recently has it come to mean a nuclear unit, the traditional set of parents (one husband, one wife) and their off-spring.

A family can mean a group of people related by ancestry or marriage, including relatives. It can be all those claiming descent from a common ancestor, tribe, or clan — a lineage. A crime syndicate under a single leader is also called a family.

Ideally, children learn the basics within the family. If we trained ourselves and our children in I Ching ways, there’d be no need for each generation to reinvent the wheel over by repeating the same mistakes. Sheltering them from the “real world” isn’t a kindness. A better way to protect them is to provide the wisdom tools to give them the practical edge, help them meet the challenges of adult life with intelligence and self-confidence.

As Chappell indicates, within the nuclear family as in the human family, everything, both positive and negative is possible. As we learn to articulate what we see and respond wisely to experiences in the family environment, we become increasingly able to apply these skills in school, business and extended political situations.

But as Confucius teaches, the goal of improving and sustaining family relationships isn’t achieved by extending ever outwards. It requires looking inward:

  • Efforts to improve personality lead to the need to know one’s mind.
  • This leads to exploring inner awareness.
  • Then, in due time, inward movement cycles outwards, incorporating benefits of the inward journey into personal and practical everyday life.

Within families of every size, whether communities, religions, corporations or governments, some live by the law. Others don’t.

Christ taught that those who love and choose truth are all members of his extended family.

Those who love life, who seek truth and understanding and do their best to help others as they can, have more in common with each other than with evildoers within their own groups.

THE BACK

Opposites of family include strangers in our community whom we’ve never gotten to know, foreigners raised abroad who speak languages and practice customs we don’t understand, as well as others we’ve been taught to mistrust and dislike.

The antithesis of family is foe, including competitive opponents and military enemies. Whereas families are ideally founded on common beliefs, goals and mutual support, those who threaten or sabotage others undermine healthy relationships. Gratitude and hope build communities. Mistrust, hostility and abuse break them down.

ESSAY 14. COMMUNITY

We can create communities and relationships based on love and intimacy rather than fear and hatred. We can learn from the suffering of others. Awareness is the first stage in healing. . . Dean Ornish, Love and Survival

As we accept the smallness of the world, the density of the population, and the myriad influences on individuals and families, someday we may recognize the community and even the whole society as the patient. Imagine, then, what a “doctor of society” might do, what kinds of diseases he or she might treat! — Patch Adams, Gesundheit!

Each celestial body, in fact each and every atom, produces a particular sound on account of its movement, its rhythm or vibration. All these sounds and vibrations form a universal harmony in which each element, while having its own function and character, contributes to the whole. – Pythagoras, quoted in The Healing Power of Sound

THE FRONT

Community stems from a root word meaning fellowship. In English, the word refers to all the people living in a particular district or city. It can also mean a group of people living together as a smaller social unity within a larger one, and having interests or work in common, such as a college community.

Alternatively, it can refer to a group of nations loosely or closely associated because of common traditions or for political and economic advantage. It also covers similarity of tastes and preferences. The last definition Webster’s gives is the condition of living with others in friendly association and fellowship. The last definition comes full circle back to the original meaning.

Communities are founded on a common cause. It can be as practical as survival or as idealistic as freedom. Often, community cohesion is artificially stimulated by fear and hatred of a common enemy.

For example, Hitler inflamed passions against Jews and foreign bankers to mobilize his war-weary country into a second world war more devastating than the first. Then Americans rallied behind the common goal of defeating enemies of democracy on two fronts, Asia and Europe.

In Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote about the relationship of divine, natural and human law in a way that inspired readers at the time of the American Revolution to fight for freedom from tyranny.

Winning that war did not, however, automatically secure freedom for all times. Democracy isn’t a static achievement that can be passed on unchanged from one generation to the next. It must renewed and earned again, one individual at a time, each generation at a time, continuously redefined in the context of immediate circumstances.

The music of life that moves every organization, smallest to largest, is the basis of harmonious fellowship. Approaching natural law and social organizations from the deeper understanding of the ancients could inspire a new, more humane and effective approach to international relations now, one based on energy dynamics which the human community share in common.

Sages say that freedom from tyranny begins with dispelling ignorance and overcoming negative emotions. True freedom and stable communities begin with the self-awareness and self-mastery which can be gained by diligent use of wisdom tools like the Book of Change. First remembering the core of compassion and caring within, we can then extend and expand this good-will into healing society as well.

Put another way, it’s useless to fight for a democratic world before first cleaning out the inner swamp of negative emotions. Inner life conditions attract corresponding external experience. Fighting in anger and hatred reaps results in kind.

Working to establish positive community relationships before personal attitudes of good-will and willing self-discipline are established is futile. As Covey reminds us, first things must come first.

THE BACK

Street gangs, terrorist groups, religious cults and secret societies are subgroups within the larger community. To the extent that their goals oppose and even endanger the community at large, these organizations are antithetical to the general good.

Pariahs, nomads and outcasts are individuals excluded from society, either voluntarily or by edict. Whether justified or not, their attitudes and behavior are out of harmony with accepted norms. If enough of them find common cause to band together, they form alternative groups which become the foundation of new communities.

ESSAY 59. ORGANIZATION

Because it is a structure of structures, the design of the I Ching can generate analytic systems of potentially infinite complexity and variety, and can be applied to any conceivable realm or situation. . .The I Ching analyzes the interplay of relations as functions of qualities, roles, and relative standing. It can be applied internally to any system of human organization, regardless of scale or configuration. — Cheng Yi, The Tao of Organization: The I Ching for Group Dynamics

THE FRONT

Roots of organization start with organ, originally referring to a tool or implement in the context of music, such as a church organ.

Organic means made up of systematically interrelated parts. Organize means to provide with an organic structure, or to arrange in an orderly way.

There are two basic approaches to social organization:

  • One builds from the smallest unit, organizing from the nucleus and extending outwards.
  • The other starts from the outside peripheral rim, incorporating smaller units, often swallowing them up by force.

I Ching thinkers focus on the smallest unit, making self-mastery their primary goal. World-domination seekers, from Alexander the Great to Napoleon and Hitler, represent the opposite extreme.

Natural Law reveals bad-faith motives of would-be conquerors. Pay attention to the rule, “The larger the front, the larger the back.” Those with the most to hide are exactly the ones most eager to seduce with promises of peace and acts of extravagant generosity.

Hitler, for example, didn’t bring war-weary Germans into WWII by announcing war plans. He promised just what his people wanted to hear — peace and prosperity, but then delivered a holocaust. For this reason the UN, for all its rhetoric, is suspect. Its “peace keeping” powers mask ominous potential for another push to world-domination.

An I Ching martial arts precept observes, “To push a man right, first push him left.” Chaos of natural disasters, famine and economic collapse play into the hands of empire builders. In extremes of social disorder, desperate people impulsively accept any strong man who promises to impose “order,” no matter how drastic the form, ruthless the “how” or self-serving the “why.”

After the immediate crisis passes, however, they wake up to find they’ve been maneuvered into a state of martial law where human rights no longer receive even token gestures of respect.

I Ching thinkers understand that unity and peace refer primarily to states of internal awareness and experience. When leaders use such words in the context of imposing organizational control, especially on an international scale, it’s time to proceed with great caution.

THE BACK

Disorganization is the opposite of organization. Since roots of the word imply natural order and coherent structure, the opposite implies a departure from the natural order. Disorganized lives reflect a lack of rhythm and harmony in outlook and lifestyle.

Perversions of organization include routinization and mindless, mechanical consistency. When attention isn’t focused on the immediate situation, there’s no appropriate adjustment to accommodate changing circumstances. An inflexible approach is likely to be wrong as often as right.