Yesterday I posed the question "What is the body of sustainability?" I proposed one notion, the body of sustainability has our minds and bodies be integrated not separated. And I pointed to many of the problems that such a separation brings forth.
Today, I want to explore the separation between each other. Here I'm going to use Martin Buber's lingo. Buber recognizes that we can have I-it relationships where I, as a self, relate to you, as an thing.
From this I-it relationships we get all kinds of social injustices, wars, and abuses. We treat each other on the basis of our differences - how different can a self be from a thing, after all - and not on the basis of our sameness. The enemy feels fear and wants to protect their children's future too. I know I'm oversimplifying things here. But I'm not trying to make subtle distinctions about war.
The alternative to I-it relationships is I-thou relationships wherein I as a self relate to you as a self - as another human being with the same legitimacy as I have. This is the foundation of true contact, true relationship, and true love. I'm proposing that the body of sustainability is an I-thou body.
In a comment to my post yesterday, Lisa Christie brought forth Riane Eisler's distinction of dominator relationships and partnerships. To me, the very basis of a dominator relationship is an I-it relationship. I-it is the foundation of slavery, abuse, and dictatorship.
As the unsustainability of our way of life becomes more acute, how will we respond to our fears that will naturally arise? Will we defend ourselves through domination? There are many who see this as the only viable alternative. It certainly seems like the oil-grabs that are in progress throughout the world express this response. Surely we must find ways of being with each other in facing the crisis of sustainability instead of over each other. Can partnership be a more creative, more productive, and more effective protection of our children's future? I say YES.
Buber's I-thou is the heart of true contact with one another and therefore at the heart of partnership. However, we can't truly contact another if we are not first in contact with ourselves. For me, this is where integration of self and body meet integration of I and thou. Being in contact with ourselves means that we don't have our bodies as objects that we posses and that we don't have ourselves as disembodied beings. Being in contact with ourselves is being an embodied self. And it is out very bodyhood, as Medard Boss pointed out (with echoes of Martin Heidegger in the background), that brings forth our coexistence in a shared world with others. In being in contact with ourselves true contact with each other becomes a reality.
So in healing the I-it wound with I-thou contact we again return to the body - the body of sustainability.
Thanks to those who have responded to my invitation to engage this question.