“We spend our lives rushing around hardly pausing
to breathe” my friend said. “Are we
human beings or human doings?”

I wondered the same as I sat
at a committee meeting listening
as the debate circled back for the third
or fourth time.

And yesterday at the department of motor vehicles
as a representative reached for a form,
assisting the gentleman twenty six ticker spots
ahead of me

And as I drove home, stopping behind
a woman cautiously awaiting an opportunity
to turn left

While a crane leisurely hoisted a beam
into its place on a new overpass, then meandered back
to the pile where a few thousand more
were ready

And this morning as I sat at the window
watching the birds in the soft morning light
as a light snow fell around them.

I think I am both.

A human being
And a human doing

(inspired in part by “The Present” by Billy Collins,
from The Rain in Portugal)

Language of control

“Life-alienating communication both stems from and supports hierarchical or domination societies, where large populations are controlled by a small number of individuals to those individuals own benefit. It would be in the interest of kings, czars, nobles, and so forth that the masses be educated in a way that renders them slavelike in mentality. The language of wrongness, should, and have to is perfectly suited for this purpose: the more people are trained to think in terms of moralistic judgments that imply wrongness and badness, the more they are being trained to look outside themselves — to outside authorities — for the definition of what constitutes right, wrong, good, and bad. When we are in contact with our feelings and needs, we humans no longer make good slaves and underlings.”

-Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication (p.23)


The building blocks of community, as outlined by Peter Block (in his book Community: The Structure of Belonging) and summarized for the Enlivening Edge community conversations:

  • Invitation rather than mandate
  • Possibility rather than problem-solving
  • Ownership rather than blame
  • Dissent rather than resignation and lip service
  • Commitment rather than barter
  • Gifts rather than deficiencies