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Jacques Dufrense
Is there a way of seeing, then, that favours or encourages encounters and true feelings of belonging? Is it possible, moreover, to learn how to look, how to see, in such a fashion?

Al Etmanski
Unlike a river it is not as easy to discern, observe or detect when we violate the sources of belonging. As Joni Mitchell sings, ' You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone.' Then one day we wake up and realize more Canadian seniors live alone than ever before or that loneliness is creeping through our culture leaving more and more of us isolated, alone and bereft of meaning.

Jonathan Boulet-Groulx
Have you ever heard of the “Maroons” (les marrons)? When slavery existed in Haiti, the Maroons were the people who managed to escape, fleeing to caves in the mountains. They formed small groups and were forced to hide to avoid the traps set by their masters in order to survive and remain free. Two hundred years later, in this country people often act like Maroons, here where belonging...

Nathan Ball
There will be much talk in Copenhagen about the need to leverage the significant political will that exists to make transformational commitments to reduce greenhouse emissions. And yes, we will eagerly await the result of the negotiations; we know that a global action plan is necessary and we know that climate change legislation to make good on these commitments is obligatory.

Al Etmanski
Like the many writers quoted by Jacques, I too wonder how successfully we will reduce our collective carbon emissions without a corresponding understanding of the social ‘glue’ of belonging.

Beth Porter
What are physical characteristics of hospitable neighbourhoods? The houses often have front porches where people can sit out and exchange a wave or greeting with their neighbours—rather than the protruding garages of suburbia that may give the much vaunted privacy developers advertise but isolate people from those who live next door.

Sam Sullivan
Sport is a profoundly social activity. It teaches many lessons about relationships. It reinforces the importance of commonly accepted rules of behavior. It assumes that everyone needs to contribute to the broader goal of the group and that there are many roles in which contributions can be made. It also leads to the understanding that practice and study improves your chance for success. Sport...

Al Etmanski
The welfare state and the market state are now two defunct and mutually supporting failures. The fork in the UK road is clear. The UK government is facing major financial challenges. Comparisons with the Greek economy may not be entirely accurate but they reflect the extent of the financial pressures. This will impact the funding of social and health care supports and services and ultimately...

Zoël Breau
Inspiring in her humanity. Ingrid Bétancourt. Not so much because of what she says but because of what she refuses to say. Notably, what she refuses to say about the inhumanity of her jailers—an inhumanity she does not deny but refuses to name. Why, even as we watch and are staggered by the humiliating images of her detention, does Ingrid Bétancourt avert her eyes, forbidding herself to look...

Victor Lachance
De nombreuse institutions sur lesquelles nous nous reposions pour socialiser ont été ébranlées au cours des dernières décennies, que ce soit la famille, l’église ou l’école. À tort ou à raison, le sport communautaire est maintenant perçu par la plupart des Canadiens comme le second lieu après la famille pour la transmission de valeurs aux enfants.

Victor Lachance
Many of the institutions we’ve relied on for socialization have been challenged in the past few decades, whether it be the family, church or school. By design or by default, community sport is now perceived by most Canadians as second only to the family in transferring values to young people.

Jacques Dufresne
We are persuaded that despite the modern trend to reduce community life to governance or market values, there remains in our society a solid and healthy core of vital and indestructible social values and virtues that are at the heart of community. They are also at the heart of what trust relationship there remains with respect to governments and business, and provide both with their...

Al Etmanski
Philia is the Greek word for friendship between two individuals, as well as for neighbourly love - the bonds of friendship that bind us together in community. Philia is also the name of a group of reflection devoted to the defense of the idea that a society is a living system, as resilient as any other living systems: the person, the body, the ecosystem. (See who we are lower in this...

Jacques Dufresne
In the debate over euthanasia and eugenics, raging now for more than three decades, it is not enough for us to line up our arguments for or against a law that would legalize these practices. We must also understand the nature of the debate on which we have embarked, in what realities we are already complicit, and what we are renouncing when we adopt one position or another. For the moment, let...

Jacques Dufresne
Objects once were persons. Will persons become objects ?In the debate over euthanasia and eugenics, raging now for more than three decades, it is not enough for us to line up our arguments for or against a law that would legalize these practices. We must also understand the nature of the debate on which we have embarked, in what realities we are already complicit, and what we are...

Places > Life
Jacques Dufresne
During the winter of 2010, the Government of Quebec made two announcements, almost simultaneously—the creation of a Parliamentary Commission on euthanasia, and of a public pre-natal program of screening for Down’s Syndrome. Everyone knows what the results of this second initiative will be: In France, where this kind of a screening program now exists, statistics show that more than 90 percent...

In the debate over euthanasia and eugenics, raging now for more than three decades, it is not enough for us to line up our arguments for or against a law that would legalize these practices. We must also understand the nature of the debate on which we have embarked, in what realities we are already complicit, and what we are renouncing when we adopt one position or another. For the moment, let...

Dominique Collin
This is not a translation but a synthesis of Ecologie et Incarnation

Values > Consistency
Jacques Dufresne
''Think globally, act locally.''To act locally does not consist only in reducing our personal greenhouse gas emissions, but rather in showing care for life in all its manifestations. All forms of life, including art, are related as the elements of an ecosystem

Places > Body
Jacques Dufresne
It is to be feared that the principal effect of modern sport, which is also a spectacle, a show, is nothing more than a way of exposing people to publicity and making them ever more passive consumers. One thing is absolutely certain: They don’t participate in the sports that they watch. Walking, gardening, doing exercise at home, swimming, bicycling, and jogging, in that order, are the...

Jacques Ellul
Six videos on The Betrayal by Technology.  Depth and simplicity!

Jacques Dufresne
Jean Vanier, the co-founder of L’Arche, is often immediately compared with Mother Teresa or even St. Francis of Assisi. He truly has been, and remains, the friend of people living with intellectual disabilities, and we admire such people a trifle too easily, ignoring – or pretending to ignore – the fact that a superficial, precipitous, conventional admiration makes it unnecessary to...

[2009-04-09]  , Friendship, Hospitality
Hélène Laberge
Yves Beauchemin, author of the novel The Alley Cat,  may flatter himself that he has transformed a very real Montreal restaurant, La Binerie, into a universal symbol of belonging.

Marc Chevrier
When does the rule of law begin to break the social fabric instead of protecting it?

Wendell Berry
What follows here is an original and inspiring perspective on belonging. It is that of Wendell Berry – poet, essayist, and, it must be said, sage: a wise man. In Life is a Miracle, this friend of the earth and of human beings, shows us how imagination, which he links to art, is a condition of compassion and hence of belonging, both for those who feel it and for those who are its object. But...

We could not translate Helene Laberge's article, L'Ange de pierre: du défi à l'abandon. This novel deserves a place in a site on belonging. We dream of an essay whose title could be: Stone Angel or the tragedy of the nursing home for the elderly. "Laurence's triumph is in her evocation of Hagar at ninety. . . . We sympathize with her in her resistance to being moved to a nursing home, in...

Andrée Mathieu
Many scientists have described the feelings of emptiness and alienation evoked in them by the modern conception of the world. No one has expressed it better than celebrated physicist Erwin Schrœdinger: “The scientific picture of the world that surrounds me is quite deficient. It obtains a great deal of information based on facts, and it organizes all our experience into a marvellously...

[2009-02-18]  Mystery, Insight, Presence
Abraham Joshua Heschel
This evocation of awe makes us enter into the sacred space of belonging in such a way that we ask ourself if belonging remains possible out of this space. Heschel is another author who, like Wendell Berry, Jean Vanier and so many others see a link between the transcendent worth of the universe and of the human beeing.  

Folco Portinari
«Slow is the experience of all deep fountains: long have they to wait until they know WHAT hath fallen into their depths.» Friederich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathoustra, XII. THE FLIES IN THE MARKET-PLACE.

[2009-02-24]  Community, Social Health
Hélene Laberge
More and more people are coming to understand that the best-known index of economic development, the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), is not necessarily the best indicator of the state of well-being. For this reason, a number of other measurements, such as gross national happiness, human development, or social development have become the subjects of theoretical work, and some have begun to...

[2009-02-24]  Nest
Wendell Berry
«Even the freest bird is bound to a certain climate.»Thus did poet Victor Hugo evoke the place of belonging, the “territory” that all living creatures need. Among human beings there are nomads and there are settled peoples, but the nomad still has a certain territory – for hunting, fishing, for subsistence. We would never say of the nomad, as we would of the exile, that he is “sans feu...

[2009-02-26]  Guilt, Isolation
Jean Vanier, Jackie Black, Jacques Dufresne
 Here are two definitions of “loneliness”; each of which distinguishes “loneliness” from “solitude.” One is from Jackie Black, the other from Jean Vanier. Jackie Black: “Solitude connotes the joy of being alone; lonelinessconnotes the pain of being alone. To be alone doesn’t necessarily mean one is isolated. The first is only a matter of physical separation; the second is a matter...

[2009-02-26]  Pythagore, Univers, Force, Form, Solitude
Jacques Dufresne
To the ancients it was a house, the vault of the sky its roof. Today, to us, the cosmos is a spaceship. The sense that we belong to one another has diminished: We feel less attached to a vehicle than we would to a permanent dwelling place.

[2009-02-26]  Emptiness, Fullness
Jacques Dufresne
We choose solitude; we suffer isolation. So the sages say. This formula certainly has the virtue of clearly marking the two extremes of the same reality – i.e., being alone, but they risk getting in the way of our recognizing the shades of gray that colour the intermediate zone. One may be alone without having wished it, and yet come to terms with it/embrace it. It is here perhaps...

Jacques Dufresne
Communion is the encounter between two living mysteries, each present to the other. Communication is an exchange of information. For such an exchange to take place it suffices that two entities only be in touch with each other, either in physical proximity or by some electronic or other means. Computers communicate very well with each other The humanization of both ourselves and our...

Jacques Dufresne
“Silence is like scouring sand,” says Gordon Hempton. “When you are quiet, the silence blows against your mind and etches away everything soft and unimportant.” What is left is what is real: pure awareness, and the very hardest questions.” “They have eyes, yet they do not see. They have ears, yet they do not hear.” Thus sings the Psalmist. Habit dulls our senses and wears away our ties...

[2009-03-14]  Accompaniment, Welcome
Émile Robichaud
An image, even written, is worth a thousand words.

[2009-03-04]  Music, Natives, Uprootedness
Richard Wagamese
The story of a man who was driven, simultaneously, from two places where he belonged – from his family and from his nation. A story that resembles and reminds us of the displacement – the “uprooting” – that inspired the blues.

Ivan Illich
Ivan Ilich – whose name is associate with the notion of conviviality – predicted the crisis of 2007-2008, more worrying than those which preceded it, the last perhaps before the great implosion which he saw as inevitable. “Against the threat of a technocratic apocalypse, I offer the vision of a convivial society,” he wrote at the beginning of the 1970s. The word “convivial” is not a...

[2009-04-01]  Desire, Excess, Freedom
Jacques Dufresne
Twenty-five years ago, it was still possible to believe that eugenics as such, extending to the elimination of “undesirable” people, was the object of universal disapproval. It has now become clear that it is coerced eugenics, practiced by the state, that has been rejected, not eugenics per se. [1] When it is a matter of individual choice, on the other hand, eugenics is now not only permitted...

Jacques Dufresne
We amputate part of our humanity, we lose our integrity when we are dispossessed – in favour of “experts” – of powers as essential as the ability to console another human being. The result is that our sense of belonging is diminished, because it is to the extent that we feel in possession of our abilities that we are able to forge rich and varied ties with one another.

Jacques Dufresne
The translation of the word “belonging” by the word appartenance is not automatic. The word appartenance does not have the same emotional resonance to a Francophone that the word belonging has for an Anglophone.

Jacques Dufresne
In only a few years, the concept of the “ecological footprint” has spread to the point of becoming a commonplace in ecology, and it has surely helped inspire people to adopt behaviours that are more and more respectful of nature. The notion of a “social footprint” is arguably equally necessary. Our lifestyle may cause ruptures in social relationships just as it may disturb the equilibrium...

Loneliness, illustrated so clearly in the story of Mr. Raoul, is the problem that has inspired the creation of this web site, where there will be a place for action as well as for reflection. People who are very fragile—the elderly, deprived of their autonomy, and people affected by intellectual disability, by mental illness, or by physical disability—are the most vulnerable to loneliness...


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Loneliness affects one in ten people in France

ONE in ten people in France lives in solitude and a quarter have only the most basic links to family or friends, a new report has revealed. The issue of solitude came up in 2003 after the...

Preventing Home Foreclosures - a Promising Innovation in Philadelphia

Between June 2008 and May 2009, of the 4,690 homeowners who were able to negotiate with their banks through this program, 2,776 succeeded in holding on to their homes.


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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