by Jay Taber I was just reading a casual exchange between some British and Portuguese bloggers, and theymentioned how every town and village in their respective countries has citizen's advice centres, wherefor free people can get help in dealing with government agencies, utilities providers, landlords, andother aspects of life. All done by volunteers with special expertise, this civil society institution seems tofit well with what I've been yammering about here.They were surprised that I had to ask them what an advice center was.Working together, or in Irish,
, is something rarely seen in the US. We compete rather thancooperate. We consume rather than create. We exclude rather than include others.Some of us, though, realize this is not something that can long continue. Indeed, things are rapidlyfalling apart.For myself, finding inspiration and guidance among the peoples indigenous to this continent, as well asin the sacred traditions of indigenous diaspora, is both a challenge and obligation. In these reflections, Ihope what you find here will help you in making a connection to something authentic and engaging.Disheartening as our absence of communal relations is in America, it does help to explain our persistentaffection toward institutions, as well as our attachment to their recognition and acknowledgment invalidating our self-worth--indeed, in bestowing on us the right to exist.Unhealthy as this institutionalized relationship is for us, both individually and socially, it isunderstandable; institutions--for better or for worse--are presently the only enduring loci of collectivememories for our rootless society, disconnected from the land and lives that surround us. Until weconstruct more functional alternatives, institutions--despite their repeated betrayals and systematicexploitation of every aspect of our daily lives--will maintain their grasp on our lonely psyches in this perverted exchange for a sense of belonging.If communication in its myriad forms of expression is what comprises a culture, then the particular architecture or design of communicating is what determines that culture's level of humanconsciousness. An emphasis on beauty in art, song, dance, and storytelling will produce a very differentconsciousness than one inclined toward ugliness.It almost seems trite to say so, but when one's primary input is from mass media, it's hard to imagine a beautiful mind.I have often marveled at writers who could create beautiful stories from adversity--powerful works of art exhibiting the dignity of creativity under duress. I have also often wondered if guardians of thissacred space, those who protect it from wrathful oblivion, can ever fully enter it without the sense of anoutsider observing from a nearby plateau. I suspect the protectors would do well to accept their fate,taking satisfaction in the space created for art, and knowing the artists and their work.As a guardian, I can see the beauty in the choreography and narrative of creating this space, yet fail tosee how to express this other than in the acts of doing so. Some are more gifted than I.