Roy Herndon Smith
This post is the first one of a series on loving communities.
Each post will begin, as this one does, with a poem.
Throughout my adult life, I have sought to understand love in order to be more loving. I have also sought to understand how to help communities be more loving. Writing these posts is one way I am continuing to work on what I have, in the past, thought of as two different tasks, but which are, I have come to understand, two aspects of the same work. To love is to participate in loving communities.
These posts will include more theoretical ones and ones that discuss concrete issues and events.
“Loving” and “community” name inherent aspects of “reality.” In the above sentence and in what follows, I place words in quotation marks to call attention to their being names for abstract features that actually only exist together in the concrete events that constitute “reality.”
By “reality,” I mean the whole of what is. The only “reality” we know is the “reality” we know in meetings between knowing and known (even if the “known” is known only as unknowable). Knowing and known continually co-create each other and reality.
By “community,” I mean the way everything exists only in and as gatherings of entities that co-create each other as “forms”—for instance, quanta, atoms, bodies, living beings, ecosystems, worlds, galaxies, the universe, selves, others, perceptions, feelings, thoughts, imaginings, memories, ideas, words, languages, and reality as a whole.
Human beings are living “bodies” that are communities of cells (that are communities of smaller entities) that exist only in and through continually co-creative interactions with internal and external communities of living and non-living beings—for instance, atoms, molecules, biomes, ecosystems, societies, the cosmos, and reality as a whole.
Human beings are “minds” that are communities of meetings between knowing “selves” and known, as always both known and unknowable, “others” that co-create each other and reality as the form sometimes called, both literally and metaphorically, “the space-time continuum.”
By “loving,” I mean sentient (or knowing or mindful) participation in the communal co-creativity that is reality. “Loving” involves:
“Trust,” or openness to “others.”
“Empathy,” “my” “feeling” with “others” in this moment.
“Mutuality,” implicit and explicit “acknowledging” that the “what” “I” “know” is also the “unknowable” “other” or “you” that continually co-creates “me” and reality as a whole as “I” and reality co-create “it” or “you.”
“Attuning,” through which knowing and known continually refine the forms of knowing (representations, schemas, tools, languages) to create, maintain, and restore trust.
maintaining the communities that constitute “us”
establishing mutually sustaining relations between “self” and “other” and between “our” community and “other” communities
nurturing and caring for each other, especially children
bearing suffering (pain, anguish, and affliction) together
identifying with each other the causes of suffering
healing wounds that can be healed
defending against threats and attacks that can be defended against
and mourning losses
“Playing,” the active form of being co-creative selves, others, and communities, including:
making new forms
and celebrating reality as communal co-creativity
All these aspects and movements of “community” and “loving” inhere in human reality. We are born into and as participants in loving communities. We can “realize,” or consciously attend to, articulate, affirm, and strengthen, these aspects, but, even when when we do not explicitly acknowledge them, they are implicit in each concrete instance of reality.
Loving communities are not a goal we seek to achieve; they are who and what we are; we begin in and only live and thrive in and as loving communities.