Scott Peck Quotes
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 93 10:43 CDT
From: alan_m [at] (Alan Murray)
Subject: Book list
Date: Tue, 05 Oct 93 15:55:22 EST
Reply-To: alan_m [at] (Alan Murray)
Organization: The Inter-Phase

 M. Scott Peck's, _The Different Drum_ has much to say about consensus and I
 think it is the most definitive of the essence of community among the books
 available.  Here are some notes I've gleaned to give just a thread to those who
 haven't read it yet.
                             The Different Drum (notes)
                              The meaning of community
 In our culture of rugged individualism-in which we generaly feel that we 
 dare not be honest about ourselves, even with the person in the pew next to 
 us-we bandy around the word "community."  We apply it to almost any 
 collection of individuals-a town, a church, a synagogue, a fraternal 
 organization, an apartment complex, a professional association- regardless of 
 how poorly those individuals communicate with each other.  It is a false use
 of the word.
 If we are going to use the word meaningfully we must restrict it to a group of
 individuals who have learned how to communicate honestly with each other, 
 whose relationships go deeper than their masks of composure, and who have 
 developed some significant commitment to "rejoice together, mourn together,"
 and to "delight in each other, make others' conditions our own."  What then
 does such a rare group look like?
                        Inclusivity, commitment, and consensus
 Community must be inclusive.  (community includes, makes use of and celebrates 
 the differences among people.)
 Exclusivity, the great enemy of community, appears in two forms: excluding the 
 other and excluding yourself. If you conclude under your breath, "Well, this
 group just isn't for me -they're too much this or too much that- and I'm just
 going to quietly pick up my marbles and go home," it would be as destructive 
 to community as it would be to a marriage were you to conclude, "Well, the 
 grass looks a little greener on the other side of the fence, and I'm just 
 going to move on."
 In community, instead of being ignored, denied, hidden, or changed, human 
 differences are celebrated as gifts.
 Decisions in genuine community are arrived at through consensus...
 (consensus and inclusion lead to realistic, safer decisions.)
 A community of sixty can usually come up with a dozen different points of 
 view.  The resulting consensual stew, composed of multiple ingredients, is 
 usually far more creative than a two ingredient dish could ever be.
 A real community is, by definition, immune to mob psychology because of its 
 encouragement of individuality, its inclusion of a variety of points of view.
 With so many frames of reference, it approaches reality more and more closely.
 Realistic decisons, consequently, are more often gauranteed in community than
 in any other human environment.  
 Among the reasons that a community is humble and hence realistic is that it 
 is contemplative.  It examines itself.  It is self-aware.  It knows itself.
 The spirit of community once achieved is not then something forever obtained.
 It is repeatedly lost.
 No community can expect to be in perpetual good health.  What a genuine 
 community does do, however, because it is a contemplative body, is recognize 
 its ill health when it occurs and quickly take appropriate action to heal 
                                A safe place    
 Once a group has achieved community, the single most common thing members 
 express is: "I feel safe here."
 (on vulnerability)
 Even if a conscious attempt is made to be open and vulnerable, there will 
 be ways in which unconscious defenses remain strong.  Moreover, an initial 
 admission of vulnerability is so likely to be met with fear, hostility or 
 simplistic attempts to heal of convert that all but the most courageous will
 retreat behind their walls.  
 Once they succeed (achieve community) it is as if the floodgates were opened.
 Vulnerability in community snowballs.
 Community is a safe place precisely because no one is attempting to heal or 
 convert you, to fix you, to change you.  
                    A labaratory for personal disarmament
 As long as we look out at each other only through the masks of out composure, 
 we are looking through hard eyes.
 "What I hear you saying is that community requires the confession of 
 When offered the opportunity of such a safe place, most people will naturally 
 begin to experiment more deeply than ever before with love and trust.
                     A group that can fight gracefully
 Just because it is a safe place does not mean community is a place without
 conflict.  It is, however, a place where conflict can be resolved without 
 physical or emotional bloodshed and with wisdom and grace as well.  
 Community is a group that can fight gracefully.
                        A group of all leaders
 ... another of the essential characteristics of community is a total 
 decentralization of authority.  Remember that it is antitotalitarian.  Its
 decisions are reached by consensus.  Communities have been refered to as 
 leaderless groups.  It is more accurate, however, to say that a community
 is a group of all leaders.
                                 A Spirit
 There is nothing competitive, for instance, about the spirit of community.
 To the contrary, a group possessed by a spirit of competitiveness is by 
 definition not a community.  Competitiveness is always exclusive; genuine
 community is inclusive.
 When a group enters community there is a dramatic change in spirit.  And the 
 new spirit is almost palpable.
                         Community by design
 (Community can be deliberately created.  Peck lists six facts describing the
 laws or rules of commmunity, why it is rare, how it can be learned and that
 any group can achieve it if they know how.)
                       Stages of  community-making
 The first response of a group in seeking to form a community is most often
 to try to fake it.  The members attempt to be an instant community by being
 extremly pleasant with one another and avoiding all disagreement.
 What is diagnostic of pseudocommunity is the minimization, th lack of 
 acknowledgement, or the ignoring of individual differences.
 In pseudocommunity it is as if every individual member is poerating 
 according to the same book of etiquette.  The rules of this book are: Don't
 do or say anything that might offend someone else; if someone does or says
 anything that offends, annouys, or irritates you, act as if nothing has 
 happened and pretend not to be bothered in the least; and if some form of 
 disagreement should show signs of appearing, change the subject as quickly and 
 smoothly as possible -rules that any good hostess knows.
 The chaos allways centers around well-intentioned but misguided attempts to
 heal and convert.
 Emptiness is the hard part. It is also the most crucial stage of community
 development.  It is the bridge between chaos and community.
 The process of emptying themselves of these barriers is the key to the 
 transition from "rugged" to "soft" individualism.  The most common 
 [and interrelated] barriers to communication that people need to empty 
 themselves of before they can enter genuine community are:
         Expectations and Preconceptions.
         Ideology, Theology, and Solutions.
         The Need to Heal, Convert, Fix, or Solve.
         The Need to Control.
 When its death has been completed, open and empty, the group enters community. 
 In this final stage a soft quietness descends. It is a kind of peace.  The 
 room is bathed in peace.
                       Further Dynamics of Community
                         Patterns of group behavior
 Bion discerned that... every group has a task.
 Bion stated that sooner or later all groups attempt to avoid their tasks.
 He identified four "task-avoidance assumptions"  They are: 
 Flight: a tendency to flee from troublesome issues and problems.
 Scapegoating is a task avoidence assumtion of flight.
 (Another form of flight is during chaos when the group attempts to flee into 
 organization, another is ignoring emotional pain.)
 "The group has apparently not learned to listen to its members' pain."
 "You keep asking me what emptiness means,"  "One of the things it means is to 
 shut up long enough-to be empty long enough-to digest what someone has just 
 said.  Whenever someone says something painful, the group runs away from it
 into noisiness."
 Fight: predominates during chaos.
 Pairing:  Alliances, concious or unconscious, between two or more members are
 highly likely to interfere with the group's mature developement.
 (Whispering or romancing or allience for defense)
 Dependency:  The most devastating to community developement and the most 
 difficult to deal with.
 A community cannot exist if the members depend upon a leader to lecrure them 
 or carry their load, each one of us has no more and no less responsibility 
 than any other for the succcess of our work together."
 All instructions to the contrary, groups rapidly slip into the task avoidence
 assuption of dependency.
                         Commitment to community
 Participants in my workshops are given advanced notice in writing not only
 that the prupose of their gathering will be to build themselves into a 
 community but also that the process of doing so is likely to be difficult 
 or painfull at first.  They are instructed before they arrive concerning the
 need to stay with the process and ride out the storm.  Each of us is 
 responsible for the sucecess of this group,"  "if you are unhappy with the 
 way things are going- and you will be- it is your responsibility to speak up
 and voice your dissatisfaction rather than simply pick up your marbles and 
 quietly leave.
                           Community exercises
 (Tricks, games, gimmicks not reccomended)
 (Silence, stories, dreams, myths, or ritual may be usefull.)
                            Community maintainace
 The parameters over which tension will most frequently be experienced as 
 communities struggle to maintain themselves are:
                                 Task definition
 Alan                        alan_m [at] (Alan Murray)
                             Fidonet: 1:112/28

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