The advancement of civilization – the theme of this blog – is achieved through action. It occurs through building capacity in individuals, institutions, and communities to work towards a prosperous world civilization characterized by a dynamic coherence between the material and spiritual aspects of social existence.
Why type, why talk, why think? Why read? Why not only go act? Plenty of reasons. Some, like the relationship between action, reflection, and consultation, have already been discussed. Along the same note, and key to the field of discourse itself, is the relationship between thoughts, words, and actions. The way we individually and collectively speak influences the way we individually and collectively think, which influences the way we individually and collectively act. And vice versa. Each affects the other two – and a transformation of one can lead to a change in the others. Discourse shapes thought, action, structure, and relationships.
What led to your conceptions of the nature and purpose of a human being? Of a community? Of education? Where did you get your speech about the idea of health care? Of politics? Of the role of parents? Why do you do whatever it is you do on Friday nights? On Wednesday mornings? On the first of the month? How did you learn what to do at a baseball game? A church? A hospital?
Most of this develops on an unconscious level – at the level of assumptions – as a result of all the complex social forces and implicit environmental factors that constantly surround us. Existing social structures and patterns of community life think, act, and speak a certain way, all of which bears upon how we think, act, and speak. In turn, however, the thoughts, words, and actions of individuals make up the thoughts, words, and actions of the communities and institutions of which they belong. Furthermore, words, thoughts, and actions all influence each other. And this is just one glimpse of the interconnectedness that governs the universe.
Discourse is indispensable in the process of civilization-building. Speak to your friend about the underlying oneness of humanity, and he will think about it. Then he will see others’ actions in this framework. And then act upon this assumption. Others will see this action, and express the oneness of humanity in their speech. What the world needs now is for more and more people to openly, consciously, and intentionally think and speak about our shared collective destiny – at the level of principles, at the level of assumptions, and with a real and foreseeable optimism. And of course this requires courage – any effort to champion the cause of justice does.