Sunday, June 17, 2018

Transaction vs Transformation

Anyone who has sat through one of my presentations knows I will eventually quote Richard Rohr, one of my favorite authors. Rohr is a Franciscan monk who writes powerfully and persuasively on so many things, and especially on how to be a good neighbor and live lives of grace, generosity, and mercy. (You can learn more about Rohr here.)

I am a news junkie: I read two papers online each day, listen to several podcasts each week, read
multiple articles on Twitter... you get the picture. Yet I have noticed that I found daily anger building as I continued to note the deep divides in our country, and recognize the abysmal ways we talk about and treat one another. Rohr has coached me in how to self-regulate and move in a healthier direction:
The Jewish scholar, Martin Buber (1878-1965, pictured here), said that the modern world has mostly entered into an I-it relationship with reality, when we were in fact created for a constant I-Thou relationship. The I-Thou relationship is an attitude of reverence and mutuality in which we encounter people, things, and events as subject to subject, knowing and being known, giving and receiving, tak­ing insofar as we can also surrender. In this fully mature state, those in I-Thou relationships refuse to objectify anything or anyone, but always allow things and people to be a fellow subject—even those they might dislike.

I like this for a multitude of reasons, but especially because it captures the essence of what I want to spend the rest of my life doing: assisting people in understanding how to live transformationally, not transactionally.

HOW to do that requires far more than a blog post or twenty. If you want to explore this further, I would strongly recommend Rohr's book to you titled Falling Upward. I also really value a book by Parker Palmer titled Let Your Life Speak

Can we all try to commit to pursuing I-Thou relationships, be they casual or deep, at work or at home and especially online? This is not a quick fix, I know. But I invite you to consider how you might slow down and engage, seeking to understand before being understood. 

P.S. Perhaps this is an addendum, but I'm intrigued by an article I read today in the Washington Post regarding smartphone addiction and how there are actually new apps emerging to help us regulate our usage. That seems a bit ironic, but is probably the best way to address the problem!

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