Real communities

The way we perceive reality defines our actions and ultimately ourselves. In every situation, we perceive differences. Perception is not neutral, like light hitting and heating a stone. We actively perceive our environment. We distinguish between figure and ground, visually, auditive as well as mentally and emotionally. We attribute.

We’ve learned to distinguish, between “hot or not”, between “good” and “not good”, “bad” and “better”, between “red, green, blue and yellow”. As Goethe and Wittgenstein proved: the perceptions of colour is subjective. We make colour not with our eyes, but with our language. And when this is true for something as simple as the frequencies of reflected light, this must also be true for the whole of our realities.

I say realities, because with language we not only makes differences between colours, we also make differences between people. The colours of our skin define the groups or communities we belong to. And we cover it up by using cloths, as in uniforms. Every community has its own language, tongue, parlance, slang, jargon, argot, speech, … .

The term dialect (from the ancient Greek word Διάλεκτος diálektos, “discourse”, from διά diá, “through” + λέγω legō, “I speak”) is used in two distinct ways, even by linguists. One usage refers to a variety of a language that is a characteristic of a particular group of the language’s speakers. The other usage refers to a language socially subordinate to a regional or national standard language, often historically cognate to the standard, but not a variety of it or in any other sense derived from it

Many stories of the origins of men are about “naming”. In Genesis Adam, the first man, gives names to plants, birds and beasts. We have the idea that we can control our environment using Names. Alice, in Through the Looking Glass, finds herself in the Nameless Forest. A small deer doesn’t fear her, because it doesn’t know her name. Call my name and I exist. The first thing we do, is give a baby its name. Name is an act of language. Enacting, creating through action, our realities.

By enacting our perceptions we invent reality – reality is not created, the world has been created. These inventions are like stories. As the Thomas Theorem states, things which are not real are real in their consequences, the consequences of our perceptions, our stories become reality. We live our life in our stories. The language we use both describes ourselves. The community, which gives us our name, our mother language, captures our reality. We cannot distinguish between our community and our reality. Reality equals community. There exists no reality outside your community, that’s the message. There are different communities and different realities.

This raises questions like:
– how do we perceive realities?
– what reality perceptions do we have?
– how do we change these?
– how do we facilitate groups and communities in changing their ways and means?

In my pre-conference work shop in the upcoming European Facilitator Conference I’ll show how just four different reality perceptions can be used to illustrate every change process, method and technique; how we can combine them to reflect on our situation and design appropriate interventions. In this work shop I’ll use a systemic approach, using constellation and body language to illustrate, teach and train.

Over Jan Lelie

Loves to facilitate groups in complex situations
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