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“Yo se quien soy” – “I know who I am” – said Don Quixote as he went his merry way, oblivious to the mockery of his detractors. But what does it mean to know who you are? Those who lack a sense of identity, said the Roman sage Seneca, “taste through a stranger’s tastebuds.” Indeed, taste is a good analogy for the sense of oneness with ourselves that we call identity. We expect wine to taste of its native soil. If it doesn’t, we say it lacks authenticity – lacks identity. Similarly, when a musical instrument fails to sound as we expect it to, we say it sounds “false”. Just so with people. Once we think we know someone, we expect them to act in accordance with their perceived essence – that their actions and ideas will “ring true.” Could we not say that we come to know ourselves through something akin to taste? Consider: the verb  “to know” in Latin is sapere, which also means…“to taste.”

Gabo, member of L'Arche Haiti community

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.
Sophie Côté
We are a small group of people, some with intellectual disabilities, others without, who have decided to live together as a community. Our community is still young; it includes only one house. Recently, we welcomed André, a kind and reserved man. We certainly hope that he will fit well in our collective life and, especially, that he will feel at home here. We asked him how long it would...
October 1980. I had been in Braerannoch, the L'Arche community in Inverness, for about a month. It was a Saturday, and for the first time, the house leader had asked me to go down town with Cathol for a haircut. We didn’t know each other much at that point, Cathol and I. That would come later. So that Saturday, understandably, I was a bit nervous. The questioning looks we attracted on the...

Voices and Echoes

«[...]I cannot stand the warblings from a  tenor's shallow nose,

Nor the chorus of the crickets as they chant the moon and sun,

I pause to separate the voices from the echoes,

And then among those voices hear but a single one.[...]»

«A distinguir me paro las voces de los ecos;»

Antonio Machado,


Identity ResponsibilityCompassionConsistencyReciprocityHospitalityObligationsTrustInclusion and Respect for DifferencesForgivenessCourageFriendshipLove



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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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