Would Martin Buber like Airtable?

I’ll be responding to question # 5: Where do you find the most Resistance when you think about building your power, your organization’s power, or our collective power for a Shared Ownership transformation?

Context: I work in North Carolina with The Industrial Commons as a story teller (media, marketing, communications 🙂

Building greater understanding, alignment, and movement around our mission will require a tremendous amount of relational acuity. Social capital is developed over years and my greatest point of resistance is impatience. Will our partners have the patience to do this slow work with us? Will we?

Whenever I feel this way, I think of Martin Buber, and my fears are all reinforced. However, he reminds me of why we do this work in the first place, he reminds me of my identify, and of our identity, as relational beings.

Buber described personhood is unifying and diversifying. While inherently relational, our particularity is critical. I-Thou relationships are personal, direct, and dialogical. I read David Brooks in an article for the New York Times years ago and he said, “All through life, the self is emerging out of some dialogue, either a cold stifling one or a rich complete one: ‘All real living is meeting.’” (Brooks, Read Buber, Not the Polls!)

He goes on to quote Peter DeMarco described an I-Thou relationship in a letter to the doctors and nurses who cared for his dying wife:

“How many times did you hug me and console me when I fell to pieces, or ask about Laura’s life and the person she was, taking the time to look at her photos or read the things I’d written about her? How many times did you deliver bad news with compassionate words, and sadness in your eyes?” 

I-Thou relationships can’t be forced into being, but you can cultivate a spirit of openness for them to emerge. In all my impatience there is some comfort knowing the cultivation of this spirit is within my power, and is in fact, our portal to power.

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