Living the rWorld
Posted by Simon on November 29, 2010
Several months ago I endeavoured to reflect on one aspect of life through a relational lens, every day for 30 days. It covered a range of topics; social media, yard sales, education, CEOs, children, neuroscience, the mortgage crisis, my dad’s death, and more. It was an exhausting but fruitful exercise. And it proved the explanatory power of a model of Relational Proximity (see below). The original series is on my own blog, but I’m going to repost them here, slightly edited, over the next few weeks. I look forward to your reactions and your own stories.
I’m Simon Fowler, a Brit living in Boston, MA. I’m married with two young girls, and along with them, one of the greatest sources of joy is that I know my neighbors and see them regularly. Despite being born and growing up in the same house for the first 23 years of my life, now at age 43 for the first time in my life I feel like I’m rooted in a place. The basic, even mundane, fact of these neighborhood relationships is one major reason for my longing to see the rWorld grow in every area of life.
Dale’s argument, and mine, is that the foundation of human flourishing is relationship. Ultimately, the foundation is love, but love is predicated on relationship. We flourish to the degree we are connected or rather, proximate. “We” can be individuals, groups, institutions or countries, but the factors that enable good relationships are the same. The Relationships Foundation in Cambridge, England, has developed and practiced a model of Relational Proximity over the last 20 years:
There are at least five dimensions that strongly determine Relational Proximity:
1. Directness – the degree to which the relationship is unmediated and truthful
2. Continuity – the degree to which it has a history, the parties meet regularly, and it has an expected future
3. Multiplexity – the degree to which the parties know each other through different contexts
4. Parity – the degree to which there is a symmetry in power
5. Commonality/Purpose – the degree to which they share a sense of common purpose or identity
It’s important to recognize that you can have all of these and be devoid of love or commitment. But try love and commitment without them.
Follow this series and let’s see how the model helps explain everyday aspects of life. I hope you’ll enjoy it and engage in conversation with me.