Evolving Together

See yourself as responsible for creating a shift as significant as the shift from hunter-gatherer to agriculture. See yourself as significant enough to create that shift.  Grace Lee Boggs

GLB photo

I am wrapping up a beautiful collaboration with Juanita Brown of The World Cafe and the genius women of Active Voice around a three city viewing of and community conversations about the film American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs.

Staff from PBS POV posted a great piece about their first experience of a World Cafe-inspired conversation at the The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center event in NYC.

I was quoted in the POV piece this way “We have to evolve ourselves [together], not ‘I have to evolve myself’.” At the time, I was trying to express the difference between what I heard Grace saying about evolution (ourselves together) as opposed to what I heard the film often reflecting (myself first).

At this moment in our evolution, we are struggling with our bias toward the individual ~ i.e., speak from an I perspective, change yourself in order to change the world ~ and our desire to move toward collective wisdom.

I don’t doubt our truisms about the self, it’s just that they do not exist without social context: personal development does not happen without noticing, listening to and acting with each other. It’s not that we can move forward without personal growth, it’s that as social beings, we must evolve in relationship. There is no ‘comes first’ here.

About KellyMcG

working with the flow and questioning everything.
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4 Responses to Evolving Together

  1. Phil Cass says:

    Thanks for this Kelly. As you know Tuesday and I are in this conversation frequently. To me the question is not which comes first but rather how do we hold the paradox of simultaneously being alone and together at the same time, all of the time. I believe that one of the problems we (the big we) get ourselves into is when we proclaim the supremacy of the “I” or the supremacy of the “We”. At different times throughout history, in various cultures, either one of these gets proclaimed as the “it” and that has never worked. Holding, living with and working the paradox is I believe our real work.

    • KellyMcG says:

      Thanks Phil ~ It’s dynamic the way that all of our history of “I” and “We” consciousness can show up in a group of people in conversation. Especially when “I” and “We” types find themselves holding the paradox together. Peace, K

      • Yes! I think this is a key place we tend to fall into “I” and “We” types – our natural inclinations can become our way of understanding issues and determining our approaches. It’s like we get the need for both intellectually but our action and approaches tend toward preferencing one or the other. Still working on this myself…

  2. Lex says:

    Thank you for this piece, Kelly. This line especially resonates: “I don’t doubt our truisms about the self, it’s just that they do not exist without social context.”

    And yes, yes, yes to holding the paradox of being alone and together. In a way, making room for this paradox to exist and creating language to talk about it — this, too, helps along collective wisdom. It’s a tricky thing to talk about and make workable though. I am still fascinated by/flummoxed by the question and possibilities of language in describing new work and new ways of working.

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