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Home > English > Alternatives International Journal > 2009 > October-November 2009 > Hunting for Gatherers

Hunting for Gatherers

Monday 9 November 2009, by Michael Ryan Wiseman

For want of a nail the shoe was lost. For want of a shoe the horse was lost. For want of a horse the rider was lost. For want of a rider the battle was lost. For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

Aside from the prevailing— and ominous— meaning of this proverb, i.e. permitting one tiny undesirable circumstance ensures a steady and inevitable decline toward massive disaster, another thread to be grasped at from our faithful adage is interconnectivity. Sow the wind with a butterfly’s wing and reap a hurricane— interconnectivity.

Networking abounds in the Alternatives International universe with the Quebec Social Forum about to swing into gear. Thousands will swarm upon Montreal for a few hectic days, and it just goes to show how important the human connection still is. All the skypes, facebooks, twitters, et al. of the world cannot replace an old fashion flesh-pressing extravaganza when it comes to fomenting momentum.

The human is a social animal, a political animal. We gather. We gather in numbers, where there is safety, where there is energy, where there is possibility. We gather; we evolve.

Our organism, humanity, is a complex one indeed. It is evidently too complex to master as of yet, it is too ungainly to steer our soon to be seven billion toward a common goal. We are too fractured— splintered— to feel the weight of society upon our actions, a society that, otherwise, would govern our behaviour in the interest of our neighbour and, therefore, ourselves.

The networking of our lives must continue apace, thus re-establishing the communal bind that, though loosened temporarily but not irreparably during our great dispersion, will necessarily tauten once more as the panoptic architecture of our connectedness brings to bear the obligations we have always had towards one another, towards our organism.

But to say that the organism requires uniform action from its constituent cells is false, in fact the organism, in order to survive, requires just the opposite; that is, differentiated roles/ actions/ functions. The only unity required— and ‘only’ here denotes an exclusive necessity rather than a glib dismissal of the obvious difficulty of attaining it— the only unity required is that of purpose.

As grand of an aspiration as that may seem, remember that for generations lost past the horizons in all directions, that purpose was as it is now and always will be— to leave the world in better hands and, in so doing, to ensure our survival… and yours with it.

But how easy it is for each cell to write itself off as ineffectual and inconsequential! And how natural that this be so! After all, the eye sees not itself, the droplet cannot know its meaning and its importance to the ocean. Must they all, save one, disappear before this last one will awaken to realize that the ocean is no more? How many droplets shall cede their place to desert before the others begin to worry less of their own place within the ocean and more for the ocean’s battle against desertification?

Of course the droplet cannot see the ocean, but if they, lonesome and hopeless, were all to give up for this very reason, how soon would there be desert then!

So as the waves roll into Quebec, let us cast our gaze past the offing and around this spinning blue marble, let us take heart from the Social Forums the world over. We are not alone. We gather.