Friday, September 14, 2012

Welcome to the web!

Have you a spare moment to share some ideas?

Last week I took part in a thought-provoking workshop.  As I and the other participants left we were offered a tray covered with blank, white cards.  Each person was invited to take one.  We were then told that there was something written on the reverse of the card, but we were not to look at it until we reached home.

Fired by the event, I was eager to discover what was written on my card.  Would it challenge me to action . . . words like 'Community Service', or 'Solar Power'.  Or might it be something aspirational, such as 'Love', 'Joy' or 'Gratitude' . . . ?
I turned the card over and, with a keen sense of disappointment, read the single word: 'Web'.

'Web' . . . ?  How was that supposed to be of help?  I wasn't a spider
There was, of course, the Worldwide Web, the benefits of the internet . . . there was also the web of connection between friends and family, the community and the wider world . . . but, all in all, I felt disappointed.

It was only later that the full implications of 'my word' began to sink in.  And this is what I'd like to share with you.
'Web', I've discovered, is a far more insightful word that I'd originally thought.

Let's pursue this and see where it takes us . . . from the moment we're born we start spinning our own unique web.  Not a physical web, but one comprised of thoughts, emotions, and actions.
That web grows day by day, forming the intricate pattern that we call our life.  Not only that, we catch things in our web . . . ideas, fears, suppositions.  We tangle others up in our web by our claims and our so-called needs.
If it is designed to snare, our web will be destructive.  If, on the other hand, we are spinning and weaving with the welfare of others in mind, from the knowledge of our intrinsic unity, then it can be wholly beneficial and supportive.

Let's look at the broader picture.  On a social and institutional level, wouldn't you agree that a web is a far more inclusive and communal structure than a pyramid?
A pyramid can distort the perspective of the person at the top, it's a draughty and exposed position to hold.  It can also fuel the self-centred ambitions of those looking up from below.  With a web, all are level.  In a circular formation all are equal.
Again, with a pyramid disproportionate attention is given to the summit, whilst the base offers little more than foundational support.  With a web, equal opportunities for participation are offered to every strand.

May I share one final thought?
A most satisfying instance of synchronicity took place the other day, just as these thoughts were bubbling to the surface of my mind.
I was listening to an online talk by Susan Collin Marks, Senior Vice President of 'Search for Common Ground'.  In case you don't know, this is an outstanding international organisation that works to transform the way the world deals with conflict.
Susan Collin Marks had spoken movingly, and with great insight, about her work as a peace-builder, and the talk was drawing to its close.

"In conclusion," she said, "I'd like to quote a saying from my home country, South Africa:  'When spiders' webs unite, they can stop a lion'."

Tell me, have I spun a convincing argument?  Has my thread of ideas caused you to pause in your tracks?

Welcome to the web!