BIRDS AND HUMANS
(Flour Paste and Crazy Glue)
Birds of a feather flock together.
Birds and Humans
The sixteenth century folk wisdom that birds of a feather flock together speaks to those affinities that cause both birds and humans to bond in community. While the natures are different the bonding is commonality. For birds this bonding is shared behavior determined by physical genetics and innate propensities. For humans this bonding is shared beliefs determined by minds that create their own reality. As Ralph Waldo Emerson reminded us:
As we are, so we associate.
Several people living together over an extended period of time suggests a profound version of bonding – an intensity of shared belief that remains stable and resists disruption. The smaller the group the easier is the ability to overcome differences and maintain a bonding commonality. The larger the group the more difficult it is to overcome differences and maintain such bonding. But whether the group is small or large some depth of common belief is required for community to occur. Thus, all human bonding is a communion of shared meaning.
Community and Purpose
Common purpose creates community. And humans bond for the rewards such community offers. These rewards can be as minimal as the experience of just relating to another human or as maximal as the experience of accomplishing social transformation. But whatever the motivation, the ground of all community is mutual investment in shared purpose. The more profound is the investment the more profound is the bonding. Therefore, if people wish the rewards of profound bonding they must engage each other in profound purpose.
A Bonding Metaphor
People wish for community so intensely they will create it for its own sake. The problem with this shallow form of community is that it is no stronger than the ego fragilities of the people who create it. It is easily torn apart by needs made visible through private agenda. It is the individual agenda first and the community agenda second. Metaphorically, this bonding is as weak as flour paste. Not much comes from this bonding except a degree of personal satisfaction.
The strongest community is bonded by engagement in a purpose that transcends ego needs and private agenda. It is the group’s commitment to something outside its own skin. It is the individual agenda second and the community agenda first. Metaphorically, this bonding is as strong as crazy glue. This is the bonding that creates social transformation.
Here is the power of human meaning-making. I can create a purpose transcendent to my own self and flock together with those who have created the same purpose. And I can make this purpose so compelling that it bonds me in community like crazy glue. This capacity is in my genes. It is a uniqueness of my nature. No bird has this ability. This understanding should behoove us to use it with deliberate care because it creates human destiny and impacts the planet.
Robert T. Latham