With ears pricked and nose to the ground, dogs create a mental map which we can never know. Dee Hock asks the question: “how many ways of knowing are there which escape human perception?” His probing of organisation is spurred on by such considerations – together with the awareness that institutional failure will continue to escalate, and the prediction of social carnage and the development of even more dictatorial institutions in response to that carnage.
Organisations, organisers, institutions would benefit from following the dog’s nose, in realising that there are many ways of knowing, that progress isn’t along straight lines. Scratch beneath life’s surface and we see a totally different reality which defies the truths of our mechanistic planning. We know in our heart of hearts that “life isn’t that simple” and we become more intolerant of institutions and responses that pretend that it is. Hock writes (after he scratches the forest debris under his do’s nose):
Billions upon billions of self-organising interactions are occurring second by second in the square yard of soil, each inter-connecing, relating, creating,and shaping self and others. Every particle is inseparable interacting and relating to others, and they still to others, unto the remote reaches of the universe and beyond – beyond knowing – but not beyond awareness, respect and love. The mystery of it all is overwhelmingly beautiful. Birth of the Chaordic Age. page 288.
> Turkish people were able to gather together to watch their team in the Euro finals because one of them had started a facebook to see how many Turkish people there were around in the north-east. Facebook, ebay, youtube are typical self-organising communities in our networking society. They don’t need community workers or developers. They don’t need leaders or rulers either. Facebook has over 75 million members with 250,000 joining every day.
On the other hand, membership of many other communities are in sharp decline. Membership of churches, voluntary groups, political parties all report falling memberships. Some cynically say that people are avoiding commitment – or are they avoiding commitment they are not willing to give. Or, are people leaving things where there are rules and regulations – where they are feeling they are being organised by somebody else?
What does this say to people who want to see the development of community?
The size of membership of Facebook indicates that I am not alone in wanting to develop community and belong to community. But I operate in an institution (because the Church of England operates as an institution)and as part of “leadership” implement initiatives which create frustration when the “followers” don’t respond. Myself and others who have been hide-bound by institutional community need to learn is that communities which flourish are those which are self-organising, and which are movements rather than institutions.
Isn’t this what the early church looked like to St Luke? He describes members meeting in one another’s houses, sharing everything. He underlines how fast the community was growing.
What Facebook offers is a space for people to move into. Maybe that is what the art of living is – providing spaces of hospitality in which people can belong and grow – which reminds me – I must go and lock the church. Oh dear!
This is what the Rhett Smith has to say on the subject:
Basically, people are organizing themselves in powerful ways that thwart the traditional means of organization through leaders in authoritative, hierarchical positions. No longer do people need to go through an institution to achieve their end goal. Many churches already know this, and still, so many other don’t. Those who recognize the shift will be in positions to harness the unbelievable creative power of a church community. Those who don’t will find themselves struggling to carry out the vision for their church community.