Organizing is a process. It follows very specific, natural, and social/psychological laws. Organizing is the science of putting together, of constructing relationships. Every form of motion and energy either adds to or subtracts from the whole. No motion or energy is neutral. What we do impacts the cohesion of the whole; what we do either fortifies the components making up the whole, or dislodges them and negates cohesion, creating chaos.
All life takes place in a real context consisting of natural and social environment(s). Life also occurs in a specific time, with a before and an after, with a now and a then. Nothing lasts or lives forever. Everything is in constant motion, which means everything is constantly changing. Community organizing is an ongoing effort to build stronger relationships, maintain, or dismantle relationships. In actual practice, community organizing is simultaneously doing all three activities. To organize we actively seek new relationships while maintaining those already existing, and this requires us to dismantle some relationships.
Dictionary.com defines organizing as:
“to form as or into a whole consisting of interdependent or coordinated parts,
especially for united action”
Dictionary.com defines community as:
“a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or
interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger
society within which it exists (usually preceded by the): as in, the business community;
the community of scholars.”
Community organizing unites interdependent individuals and groups into a whole. A community is not necessarily defined by geographic dimensions. Actually, the concept includes groups of people transcending national borders and continental locations.
Come to the discussion session on Monday with your thoughts on “organizing” and a definition of “community.”
Preparing the self
Most societies do not prepare individuals to think about putting together interdependent individuals and groups, much less how to take action to accomplish the work of forming a whole. This seems especially true in the United States and other over-developed, Western nations. The science of organizing human beings follows particular laws, some of which include:
- Ideas come from reality, not reality comes from ideas.
- All relations are a duality of mutual attraction and repulsion.
- A quantitative increase or decrease in the actions or elements of particular relationships leads to a leap in the qualitative dimensions of those relationships.
- The opposite: an increase or decrease of the quality of the actions or elements of particular relationships leads to a change in the quantity of those relationships.
Self-preparation for integration into community organizing calls for a dedication to life-long learning. While such a commitment involves a multitude of elements, we begin with only three:
1. Learning how to learn.
2. The study and practice of dialectics.
3. Intentfully integrating into something larger than the self.
Learning takes place every moment. We learn first by and through our senses. We encounter, which means to act, or conduct ourselves. When we perceive a sensation, we categorize it, and as we perceive more and more sensations, we bundle them in our brain by our perception of similarity between particular sensations. From this bundling we develop an awareness of patterns we have created in our brains. Those patterns, which may or may not align with reality, are the foundation of our assumptions and ideas. Learning how to learn requires continuous relooking at our perceptions, assumptions, and ideas. It means studying what we already know.
Dialectics is a science that has developed over several hundred years. It involves a consistent juxtaposition or interaction of opposing ideas or forces. It is characterized by the development of a thesis, juxtaposed by an antithesis, and the creation of a synthesis. Dialectics includes analytical thinking, objectivity, and logic.
Intentfully integrating into something larger than the self is the conduct of being an active agent generating and receiving the conduct of others in an effort to put together interdependent individuals and groups into a whole. It involves conduct that is other-interested and adds to the growth of unity. It includes the practice of submitting the “I want” to the “we need.” Each conduct associated with integrating into something larger than the self is relative, transitory, and follows the laws of the duality of mutual attraction and repulsion. Such integration also follows the law of the relationship between quantity and quality.
Take time to write in your journal your thoughts on preparing the self for community organizing.