I just happened to read this yesterday, which was apparently a day about places.
The lesson which life repeats and constantly enforces is, “Look under foot.” You are always nearer the divine and the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, every place is the centre of the world. Stand in your own dooryard and you have eight thousand miles of solid ground beneath you, and all the sidereal splendors overhead.
by G.K. Chesterton (via a chat with Randall Szott)
Oh, how I love Humanity,
With love so pure and pringlish,
And how I hate the horrid French,
Who never will be English!
The International Idea,
The largest and the clearest,
Is welding all the nations now,
Except the one that’s nearest.
This compromise has long been known,
This scheme of partial pardons,
In ethical societies
And small suburban gardens—
The villas and the chapels
where I learned with little labour
The way to love my fellow-man
And hate my next-door neighbour.
This post was accidentally stuck in my drafts folder and forgotten until posting “Small and Slow” and “Semicolon” reminded me. The text is a series of messages (some slightly expanded) that I posted to Twitter on June 9, 2012.
The following thoughts came after graduation at The Children’s School on Thursday, June 7, a beautiful, joyful, human event, enhanced by its imperfections.
That joy is coupled with a sadness as they and I move on.
For me, the Class of 2012 consists not only of the seven young people that graduated, but also the two middle-aged people (@carwaiseto and me) who have spent the last three years with them.
The advantages of such a small group far outweigh the disadvantages.
(Edward T. Hall’s Beyond Culture makes a strong case for groups of eight to twelve and the compromises made by scaling beyond that.)
They [the members of the Class of 2012] understand their intellectual prowess should be secondary to their character.
They are friendly considerate, empathetic, and supportive, in part the product of the small class size. (Cf. “Empathy”)
While they have their place, as a culture we overvalue independence and largeness. Interdependence and intimacy are underappreciated.
I tend to like places and programs that are working “under capacity.” The quiet and lack of crowds are a large part of that attraction.
I like the stilliness and intimacy that result from the small crowds.
I will forever prefer a small group to have a conversation with over a large audience to address.
Yet our culture and economy reward scale. Subsequently the experiences and products that we create become dehumanized.
Short story: Please advocate for slow and small options.
My previous post has me thinking about something that Caterina Fake posted recently, something that I first saw in John Taylor Gatto’s Dumbing Us Down. It’s a letter that Wendell Berry once wrote to the editor of a magazine:
I don’t think “global thinking” is futile, I think it is impossible. You can’t think about what you don’t know and nobody knows this planet. Some people know a little about a few small parts of it … The people who think globally do so by abstractly and statistically reducing the globe to quantities. Political tyrants and industrial exploiters have done this most successfully. Their concepts and their greed are abstract and their abstractions lead with terrifying directness and simplicity to acts that are invariably destructive. If you want to do good and preserving acts you must think and act locally. The effort to do good acts gives the global game away. You can’t do a good act that is global … a good act, to be good must be acceptable to what Alexander Pope called “the genius of the place”. This calls for local knowledge, local skills, and local love that virtually none of us has, and that none of us can get by thinking globally. We can get it only by a local fidelity that we would have to maintain through several lifetimes … I don’t wish to be loved by people who don’t know me; if I were a planet I would feel exactly the same way.
I have a collection of posts tagged ‘small’ (bookmarks tagged ‘small’ too) that overlaps with my posts tagged ‘slow’ (and ‘slow’ bookmarks), this post and Starck’s Teddy Bear Band included. These concepts are important to me.