Weaving a Civity Cloth
New York Times columnist David Brooks brings a compelling voice to the conversation about how Americans should be with each other. He has been bearing witness to the pain of feeling isolated and disconnected, of feeling forgotten and left behind. He has been speaking and writing about dignity, decency, and truthfulness.
In talking to people around the country, Brooks has found that while there is an epidemic of social fragmentation, there is also a multitude of individuals who have pitched in and who are in their own ways and in their own places building relationships and trust from the ground up. In neighborhoods, in organizations, and in everyday life, ordinary people without titles, without job descriptions, and without budgets are re-weaving America’s torn social fabric.
Brooks calls these people Weavers, and with the Aspen Institute has created Weave: The Social Fabric Project. Weave’s goal is to help build a movement, to change the culture.
Brooks names and celebrates Weavers who do this important work.
Civity is a name for what emerges from that work, for a way of life in which we bring “I see you” respect, openness, and curiosity about our common humanity to our encounters with “Others.” Civity is also an organization that works with people in communities – Weavers – to support the vital work of spinning relationships, especially relationships that connect people across differences of race, class, and culture.
Our current culture puts hyper-individualism on a pedestal. The work of Weaving and a Civity way of life, in contrast, acknowledge the reality of interdependence.
Interdependence isn’t just a Kumbaya “let’s all get along” slogan. Interdependence means that for us as a society to be resilient, to adapt to the inevitable slings and arrows, we need to be woven together. Red and Blue, Black and White – not only despite but because of our differences, we are all essential threads.
The very nature of Weaving, a warp and a weft, intertwines threads coming from different directions and oriented in different ways. These threads check and reinforce each other to create a fabric stronger than the individual threads alone.
Weaving a Civity cloth is an everyday task, with far from everyday consequences.
Declaring the social identity of being a Weaver and rallying around the mutual purpose of creating a Civity culture – these acts of intentionality intensify and focus the movement that is just beginning to realize that it is a movement.