What can we do from far away?

by Augusto Cuginotti

More connected than ever

Our world is more connected than ever and it is getting more likely that people have at least a friend or two in places where an accident or natural disaster occurs. Some will have family and other stronger links, of course, but my point is that you are likely to feel closer to a place where there is a person you care about even if it is geographically far away from where you are right now.

This surely happens to me – in the recent event of the earthquake in Japan, a country that a dear group of friends live – I was reflecting on what I could really do despite being physically away.

There are many things that we can do locally – here in the school the kids (everyone, not only the Japanese kids) started a campaign to raise money for aid, for example. Many others donated or shared their prayers through the web.

These are all important actions that show people care, but my feeling is that there is more beyond charity and the facilities of online clicktivism [activism by clicking around the web].

Sharing in a Circle

Last Saturday I was with the British hosts in the Art of Hosting gathering in London and I decided to raise this question in an Open Space: What can we do from far away?

Getting together in a circle

Two wonderful girls joined me with their wisdom. They shared their perception on the events that generated ‘global waves’ that spreaded around the world – it was identified the grief around Princess Diana’s death, the fear of 9/11 and the compassion for the more recent tsunamis in Asia, among others. They also shared other continuous events that don’t reach mass media or the buzz on social media, but have long lasting local impact.

Looking from a perspective of a group of hosts and creators of space, it became obvious that there is work for us from far away apart from clickitivism: one is by having spaces to make sense of things through conversation and community, a space that connects and heals. Secondly, acknowledge these events and the ‘waves’ related to them, making sense of our present time in the world.

The girls pointed out how much that is bringing some of the feminine energy to these events – usually the masculine drive to solve the problem, rebuild and start again, although essential as well, shadows the need for grief, understanding and care.

A space to take care of others and to be taken care of

Here at the school, staff talked about calling a meeting about the earthquake – the initial idea years ago would be to tell pupils what was going on – today this is irrelevant, they know it before we do from the web and have already contact their parents through e-mail or phone. Does that mean that the meeting is not needed anymore?

I don’t think so – having information is different from making sense of it. For issues like these where many are involved, making individual sense goes through collective sharing. It is fundamental to create and host a space where we can make collective sense of it all, to take care of others and to be taken care of.

For that, whoever is hosting does not need to know all the facts of the past or what is going to happen in the future – the space ceases to be about what we know and lands on what is unknown but essential. Even when away, this is something to be offered.

images from shapeshift and TPH Canada