Unify Individual & Collective Wellbeing

Conceptualizing Unified Cultures

Uni­fi­ca­tion, in its true sense, does not dull or sup­press, but rather hon­ors the fullest expres­sion of diver­si­ty. The ways in which we each uni­fy the dif­fer­ent parts of who we are—our aspi­ra­tions, lim­i­ta­tions, and realities—and weave them togeth­er defines who each of us are as individuals.

Though we might not always be aware, we are indeed all inte­grat­ed with­in a state of inter-being. The more we fail to notice the ever-present inter­con­nect­ed­ness of life, the more we mis­take our place on this plan­et. One of the great­est errors we as humans make is to see our­selves as sep­a­rate from nature. This sense of sep­a­ra­tion can have dras­tic consequences.

E pluribus unum / One from many

There are two dif­fer­ent ways of regard­ing rela­tion­ships: either through a lens of atom­iza­tion or through the per­spec­tive of holis­tic inte­gra­tion. In soci­ol­o­gy, atom­ism refers to a frame­work in which the indi­vid­ual is the pri­ma­ry unit of analy­sis by which every­thing else is under­stood. In con­trast, holis­tic inte­gra­tion states that all the var­i­ous parts of a sys­tem are inter­con­nect­ed. We believe in the impor­tance of describ­ing sys­tems such that each piece of the puz­zle is acknowl­edged for its neces­si­ty. In this way, a sense of belong­ing cor­re­sponds to bal­anced inte­gra­tion and interrelation.

The col­lec­tive requires the indi­vid­ual many times over. Con­verse­ly, the indi­vid­ual van­ish­es with­out the col­lec­tive to sup­ply con­text. Among the near­ly infi­nite expres­sions of life, the web of human activ­i­ty is dis­tinc­tive in its emis­sions of light and gas. We also sig­nif­i­cant­ly con­tribute to out­pour­ings of love, which occurs through res­o­nant con­nec­tions between individuals.

“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all togeth­er” — John Lennon, “I am the Wal­rus”, 1967

Still from “Spa­tial Bod­ies”, AUJIK, 2016
“Hyp­no­sis”, Iris Van Herpen

When we feel a sense of con­nec­tion, we are more in touch with our true selves. The acknowl­edge­ment that every­body is going through some great jour­ney, strug­gle, or even suf­fer­ing can serve to alle­vi­ate the heavy ten­sion that some­times dom­i­nates the thoughts of our dai­ly expe­ri­ence. We can feel ela­tion when we exer­cise our innate dri­ve to con­nect with oth­ers or with a place. Feel­ings of sep­a­ra­tion from one anoth­er and the envi­ron­ment also cut us off from our­selves. When we feel deprived of sup­port­ive rela­tion­ships, it becomes more dif­fi­cult to find mean­ing, so we sub­sti­tute mean­ing with sen­sa­tion. We end up look­ing for solace in tem­po­rary dis­trac­tion, liv­ing only for iso­lat­ed instances of sen­so­ry stim­u­la­tion. With rep­e­ti­tion of over-stim­u­la­tion, our sens­es can become dulled, leav­ing us per­pet­u­al­ly dis­sat­is­fied. In this state, we are in great need of find­ing ways to come together.

“Ulti­ma­tum”, Jake Ama­son x Zach Jack­son, 2016

Com­mu­ni­ty plays a crit­i­cal role in the devel­op­ment of unity—it’s built into the word itself. How might we con­cep­tu­al­ize and exam­ine the idea of a com­plete­ly uni­fied civ­i­liza­tion? Adopt­ing dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives than our own may help. Even shift­ing between dif­fer­ent points of view with­in our own out­look can help open our minds and modes of experience.

In The Prac­tice of Every­day Life, the writer Michel de Certeau describes two points of view with­in a city: that of the voyeur and that of the walk­er. The walk­er is always in the midst of expe­ri­ence. Vision is lim­it­ed to what is near­by. She or he only expe­ri­ences the sights and the sounds of what is imme­di­ate­ly in front of each step tak­en. How­ev­er, for the voyeur, expe­ri­ence is shaped by her or his van­tage point high above. From this per­spec­tive, every­thing appears more expan­sive. The voyeur is able to see what’s around every cor­ner, and over every hill. She or he can see the wider scope of our world with greater con­text, although per­haps less detail.

Each per­spec­tive holds val­ue. Where­as the walk­er expe­ri­ences the imme­di­a­cy and inti­ma­cy of life down on the street, the voyeur’s posi­tion allows for a view of how the city is orga­nized on the whole, and pro­vides insight into the inner work­ings of gov­ern­ments and cor­po­ra­tions. Yet, isn’t the wis­est option to find a way to expe­ri­ence both per­spec­tives? We believe that only by hav­ing first-hand expe­ri­ence as both a walk­er and a voyeur can one real­ly under­stand how best to maneu­ver the var­i­ous inter­con­nect­ed facets of con­tem­po­rary life.

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