Sunday, 4 December 2011

Come together

I believe in groups.  They intrigue and excite me.  I have seen what they are capable of.  I have benefited from belonging to them.  I believe in the power of a group.  They have lives of their own.  The value of a group is always more than the sum of its constituent parts.

"In union there is strength."

People join groups for all sorts of reasons.  We are born into groups; families, communities and others.  Later we become part of groups some that we come across by accident, by chance of our birth or our parents' decisions.  As adults, we have endless memberships available to us, overlapping and complementary, or at odds with each other, with conflicting ends and ideals.

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent."
John Donne

Something very special happens when people get together.  United with a common aim, intention, goal or purpose, a great many things can be achieved when people choose to organise themselves in this way.  Groups have, I think, unlimited potential that can benefit individuals in ways they might never conceive of independently.  

I know that I learn better when around others pursuing a common interest.  I thrive around like minded individuals, and flourish when around minds who are perhaps not at all like mine, but from whom I can still learn a great deal.  Intellectual diversity is often as thrilling as it is challenging.  As a previously enthusiastic competitive debater, I seek out opinions that differ from my own.  Sometimes there is less value to an absolute truth than to something capable of provoking a decent argument.  Through the thorough consideration of one's own position arises significant potential for change.  Thanks to someone else, I can always learn more:  about myself, and about them. 

"None of us is as smart as all of us."
Ken Blanchard (American author and Management Expert, b.1939)

Working alongside others is often challenging but, when journeying towards a common end, usually supportive.  Group fitness is a good example.  All I have to do is get myself there.  Once I'm in the studio, standing on my mat, lying on the bench or sitting astride the bike, it's easy.  I get carried through the class by the vicarious energy that is generated and freely available.  Together we strive, together we achieve.  Mission accomplished.  I know I push myself that bit farther when I'm in company.  Corporate dedication rather than competition, I like to think.  We're in it together.  

It doesn't therefore strike me as anything other than logical that food tastes more delicious when eaten in company, music sounds better when appreciated by a crowd.  Comedy is funnier when you hear others laughing alongside you.  We are, after all, inherently social animals.

"No one can whistle a symphony."
H. E. Luccock (1885-1961, Methodist Minister and Professor of Theology at Yale)

"Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable."  Kenyan proverb

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