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Belonging is a state of being, not an act or an activity. We belong to our families, our homes, our religions, the way an organ belongs to an organism. The goal of our actions here must not be to create living ties, because action and activity cannot create them. Rather it is to tend to, and support the conditions under which these ties may forge themselves. Here is the danger of a way of life that places too much importance on activity, on action. Here too are lessons that can be brought to us by those who, because of a disability, for example, can only be present in the world "passively;" that is, those who can only be, rather than do.


A long canoe trip, across difficult rivers and unfamiliar trails, discovering plants, animals, and country vistas we had long dreamt of seeing, anticipating congenial conversation around the nightly campfire before contemplating the starry sky. Canoe-camping— a way of life among many of the Amerindian peoples—along with hill-walking and mountaineering, is one of those sports which...


We are first moved to help others in need from a sense of generosity. But generosity is not yet commitment. Commitment begins when we realize that the gift goes both ways, and that we often get back even more than we give. It is this reciprocity that enables us to sustain our commitment over time. Without it, the generous impulse would sink under the weight of a one-sided relationship that...


So obsessed are we with choice nowadays that we often don’t recognize a gift when we see one, simply because it was not of our choosing. In fact, when that gift comes from nature, we may see it as a debt rather than a gift: We didn’t ask for this, so nature owes us one! Yet some things are beyond the realm of choice. We don’t choose to have a child with a disability. But what if, instead...


To inform originally meant to give form, soul or life to matter. Today, we equate information with data, and “informing” with transmission of knowledge. But in the process of informing, let us not lose sight of the original sense of the word. Let us take care to conjoin feeling with reason and the heart with the mind, so that we may nourish the souls of our listeners even as we pass on...

Cultivating Resilience

Resilience is the ability of all living beings to bounce back from adversity or stress. Natural systems are inherently resilient – we can’t produce resilience. We can, however, nurture it through our actions. We can avoid injuring the organism or ecosystem in the first place. And, at the social level, we can remove obstacles to communities’ self-healing powers. We do this by liberating...


Dialogue creates a people by bringing individuals together to create shared meaning. The “masses”, by contrast, are the product of one-way communication that sees individuals as targets for predetermined messages. Once reduced to a “mass”, however, our ties of community are weakened and our sense of belonging dissolves. Now, instead of enlivening our communities through active public discourse...





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Jacques Dufresne's

The editor of L'Encyclopédie de L'Agora and well known newspaper chronicler and philosopher, analyses actuality through the looking glass of Belonging.
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