Seeking Concord Over Discord   Leave a comment

Living in Tanuri Ridge — Concord vs. Discord

We have lived in Tanuri Ridge now for over a year. Like all communities, it has a culture, which is an organization of learned behaviors and products of the behaviors that is shared and transmitted. The culture represents a style of life that includes information, governmental patterns and to a lesser degree, ways of thinking and speaking. Each person in the community exists in an interactive relationship with the community as a whole. Even though some interact more than others, as John Donne states in his poetic passage:

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man
Is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main:
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the
Less, as well as if a manor if thy friends or of thine
Own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I
Am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to
know for whom the bell tolls’ it tolls for thee.

Having spent seventy-plus years developing who I am (self) through social interaction, the last year of which has been in my new community. During that time, we have sought many opportunities to interact, which has included (1) social situations providing cooperative associations and communication with others, and (2) opportunities to “get into” the experience of the other.  The latter allows me to get outside myself in order to come back to myself. By doing so I’m able to become an object of myself, just as others are objects to me. By revealing my true self to others, in turn, I’m able to see myself as I truly am. This past year, however,  it has been difficult accepting the pains of discovery inherent in this objectification process.

As with any experience, there have been a series of events that I acted on. Since each person experiential history is different, the interpretation of a given event will vary from person to person, therefore each may choose to act differently. This can lead to discord.

In seeking a better understanding of human acts, I often turn to the writings of Thomas Aquinas and his work, Summa Theologica, in which he wrote on discord. Discord means a jarring of acts, inasmuch as the act of one party is set on one thing, and the act of another on another, which results in a lack of charity and unity. There are two ways in which clarity is destroyed – ordinarily and incidentally. “In human acts and movements, that is said to be ordinary, which is according to the intention of the agent. Hence a man is at ordinary discord with his neighbor, when knowingly and intentionally he dissents from the good of his neighbor, to which he ought to consent.”

On the other hand, discord is considered to be incidental when both sides share an interest in a good end, while differing on the course. In such case the discord can result in producing charity from a union of acts, not a union of opinions. To the demise of charity, however, we too often stay focused on a union of opinions.


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