Psychotherapist, author and lecturer Dr. Rollo May speaking at Augsburg College. May’s address was titled "Awareness and Community."
Dr. May was key note speaker at a conference entitled, "Exploring Personal Options Within Community", sponsored by the Women's Center of the Saint Paul YWCA and Augsburg College. His speech examined the tension produced when one's private environment expands and comes into conflict with one's public environment.
Read the Text Transcription of the Audio.
I am here to explore with you the topic that became more and more fascinating to me as I got more and more into it the planning for this conference and that is community. And as I plan for it as I thought about it. I found myself carried more and more to the topic community and intimacy. It seemed to me that these were two qualities that we all have to have the largest hammock stand in opposition to each other, but I also intimately related.How Community is a word with a very interesting history and a very interesting set of relatives one of its relatives is the word communicate they both come from the same same great-grandfather great-grandmother, but also the word is related to come you. This is particularly true with the young people of the verb, is very interesting. I communed with others and then these cam you instead I set up around the country groups of people especially young people live together talk together and be together and that it has another relative the word community and that relative has somewhat of a checkered career and that is the word, they both come out of the same stand, but there is a 1/4 relative.That makes up for the dubious aspects of the word communism a relative that is in very good standing. And that is the word communion can have communion with each other. This is so true in the early church. The communion was the time when they got together. We're together shared together then if you have been in on the Jewish sabbath experience, you know, what a true Community can mean I was over there last Christmas when the tension with the Egyptians were strongest and I was invited to a Sabbath with the Dodge Abraham Kaplan that some of you may remember from University of Michigan. Is it Amanda see impressive thing that here with these people kept the community with their candles and their little hats and theirApparently they always cried over these communion possibly because they knew love serious war was in the offing communion is perhaps the best or the most loved aspect of the word community. But when we join a community or any group it requires that we surrender some of our own freedom and we should not kid ourselves about that whenever you relate to somebody the first thing that happens is a sweating of some of your freedom individuation and Community are dialectical related to each other and always in something of a conflict the function of the group is to make the people within it conform to lead them to conform. This is the purpose of a group we are headed by the wants of others the existence of others and the taste of others and this makes off in some of our liberal people. We should all liberal people very angry and I see Congress for example Getting along with each other these representatives and Senators. They somehow believe every Congressman should be an individual. Well, I hope he has but if he's too much of an individual no legislation will ever get past a friend of mine is very hard on Congress for these reasons. He speaks of their robot behavior and he says it is the living proof of life after death. He's right in that the the surrender of some of your individuality that in order to communicate and that's the surrender some of it even to communicate with others who use the word means that I already surrender something of the originality of my thought my feeling my idea and you have to do the same when you communicate but this is necessary if we are to have groups and it's also necessary if we are to have a congress. Remember kick a guy who is always seems so sad the most telling thing about everything. He said at one point in his writing some hundred and forty years ago that the typical citizen of Denmark foremast. He grew up you did what everybody else did he got married he work because everybody else work and when he died to kick a guard he was ushered into heaven for $10 by the pastor and a selfie never was and the selfie never became know but the selfie never was and the selfie never became know. What can you guard is showing there is that individuality is always in conflict with Community. It has to have Community but also their house there is a conflict that it is best that we recognized immediately at the outset. I noticed that your discussion groups after let's talk this morning are all have some relationship to groups and you could have a discussion group on originality of an individual but no you have them on marriage dual relationships Family Church working organization community of all these things in the community of learning now, this is true and this is right but it also should be realized it as you establish. This community is the price that has to be paid as some surrender of individual that day and this surrender all to be done consciously and unconsciously. I am very familiar with random several of my friends are allowed in, California. There is a very clear process of they're getting along with each other all day Mondays to talking with each other that seems to me a lot of talking but nevertheless that and the kibbutz in sit down and and Israel with another very laudable form of community from one point of view is kibbutz require people who like to talk with each other and the individualistic poet. He doesn't get along very well in the kibbutz and I know he leaves rather someone that I know out in California, I can see the weather ideas to come up. I personally think twice and we'll look from side to side. Will this offend one of my fellow members now, it's all right, if it's unconscious at the beginning of what kicker guard said at the beginning of a death the death in Congress or a selfie never was in the selfie never became because yourself but requires not owned a some communicate with others. It also requires a listening to your own your own original thoughts, which always will come up in some way idiosyncratic play now, that's where it comes from the same word as idiot. But it's a valuable word idiosyncratic. It means that which Separates Me from others and every original idea will do that never the less. You would not even get it. If you had not had some Community to begin with all of these illustrates the central Paradox of being a human. There we must have both community and individuality. You must be yourself in order to have anything to give but you have to surrender some of your individuality to be a member of community another way of expressing this dilemma. Is it one must grow into oneself? But he also must have a community in which to grow at. It may be fine for a saint. Would you be a Hermit maybe but for you and me we develop only within Community we develop in conjunction with other people as we also develop alone. We develop in struggle with ourselves and with other people or one might put that we develop in struggle of the self develops and struggle with others while it is experiencing its own idiosyncratic ideas. The central Paradox is that we are born so we understand individual. We only become that we are born as a weed an infant that has to have its mother that did not have its mother and other substitutes would die within the first three or four hours what is significant about it. Contact but then it must gradually become free free of the mother's breast wind also from her apron-strings soon, as must go to school Atlanta. It must go through adolescence, which is a dramatic form of being of the assertion of oneself on the part of his adolescent at the same time. You scared stuff he and she are both scared step. They're aware of new powers coming within them. They want to hang on to their family their parents. I know they mustn't and is often comes out in fighting the parents. I was a very good thing if you remember this cuz then you can take this adolescent Rebellion a whole lot easier if she has to fight you if she didn't fight you or she never would become a self she would be like yoga guards typical Dane a selfie never was and the self you never be All of these are part of the Paradox of individuation and community. Now there is a neurotic approach to this problem that we have in America have known this new approach a very clearly. We are a nation of joiners. I am the neurotic approach is to join organizations in order to cover up your own individuality to cover up the fact that you are out to compete and to skin other people that this is done by joining a rotary club Lions Club Optimist Club every other kind of cloud you could think of to talk about it was in this country again little over a hundred years ago. I wrote a beautiful book called Democracy in America. It was a Frenchman who had fantastic inside and what was going on. He went around America and talked it all kinds of people and he says that America is a nation of joiners and that he needs people I Meet Samantha for example who is against the drinking of liquor and he says in this beautiful French style. I would love to but I would think that this man would enjoy drinking water before his own fireplace, but no he has to go out and get 20 other people to join with him in a society against alcohol. It is true that we are a nation of joiners We join everything and this is what impresses Europeans even today about us. This joining has a very clear neurotic side and that is why join other groups in order to cover up our own devil-may-care competitiveness with these groups. If you're out to scan your competitor in Saint Paul to Minneapolis to any other City are not even in the country you then I can join a group and by going through a pretense once we got a lot of good things about rotary an optimist, I don't mean this to be a critique on the exam. I mean to be joined you can join for neurotic reasons and then scan your neighbor 6 days a week and meet him and sing songs with them on the 7th, and then you don't need to feel guilty about it. But now you're not feeling Guild extracts a great price and that price is loneliness. And this is why I am are I got to talk to you about this this that we have the greatest degree of joining of other groups of groups, but also there's a greatest degree of loneliness and this is a Plastic thing I will talk about a little bit later that loneliness a gaseous in this country. I believe is very much related to the fact of our competitiveness are personal competitiveness with others. We can't we believe that others are like ourselves and we cannot give ourselves to give a guarantee if I may say so the guarantee to others that we will be entirely open and aboveboard with them and therefore we cannot believe that they have any such but can you give us any sets guarantee? And so we go through life always with the feeling that I have my neighbors anime. and on Now this I don't think this is a necessary for you think I would I regarded as a neurotic feeling now. There's one other thing that we must confront about community and intimacy before we get into the personal aspects of what we can do about it. And that is a fact that technology has made Community more possible but yet has undermined Community. It's very destructive mess with our war weapons. For example makes it possible that we can shoot guns and have no relationship at all to those. We are killing. Remember all the stories about the bombers in Vietnam during the Vietnam war they could fly over Vietnam if they did three or four hundred times a day. It is tremendously big bombers the largest that the Army has I'm drop hundreds of bond each bomb cutting a swath half mile wide and 3 miles long was then became uninhabitable Devore animal plant or human beings that were completely unaware of the ride and of these wounded and dying citizens down below them cuz it was so far away. They could fly back to their ships and there are the landing field and then ask what there is for lunch without any relation at all to the great killing that was occurring. Now this eats away. It's at a person's soul. I don't believe it's possible without a loss of a sensitivity that we ought to have you want. You can call it ESP if you want it at some level there's my relationship with this Vietnamese who who might have killed and in this sense, I partly kill myself. Also in your own situation, you know that the television is a great promoter of community. But we also must realize that in television you can know is dozens of people Walter Cronkite all the rest of them come into your parlor every evening show more or less most people's part of every evening and you know that but nobody knows you of all that parade over the tv nobody knows who you are and this so I think again extract surprise, obviously, I'm not against technology. I think it's a great thing, but I am against the blind acceptance of Technology without our awareness at the same time. Technology has no interest in our souls and that we must ourselves through our own Consciousness Reserve our souls if I may use that word imaginations originality. We must realize that the fact that we can pick up the phone and talk to somebody in Texas from one point of view. This is a great Aid to communicate from another point of view. It is a destruction of community where has the art of letter-writing gone. I remember if I throw roll was observing the great hullabaloo was going on in the eastern states when a wireless was strong from Maine to Texas. And the Lord said the only question is but nobody asked the real point to the people of Maine have anything to say to the people of Texas. No and unaware technology these two numbness a puffy eye destruction of our innermost thoughts and feelings at and this is the danger and this is what you and I have to face. We have to develop our own Consciousness and awareness to the extent that we can accept technology and accepted as a right to know what's happened was it is but we all have the responsibility that must not be a lesson by technology but even gained to develop our own selves to become more sensitive to have community and individuality and this is what is our task here in this conference. There's a very good illustration of that and person interesting illustration. And that isn't the problem of sex. We've learned a great deal more about sex all the books that come rolling off. The prices are and valuable probably some people technology has produced a birth control methods, which I firmly believe in and we can have abortion without the penalty or without the death at least of the mother. And without that we. Therefore don't need to bring children into the world unless they will be forever unwanted and sooner or later probably criminal done for us. But I also want to point out that the more books that roll off the presses on how to do it and how I perform sex The Joy one gets from The Joy of Sex. I think it's a rather good Buck. But in any case the great mass of these books occurs precisely because people have lost the meaning of love and as they they lose the meaning of Love That grab for some substitute and sex. Of course. Is there a substitute at least some people can have that requires more than one day that requires sharing one's fantasies one's hopes one's fears. When's anxiety is one swims. When's originality and this often is short-circuited? This is one of the real criticisms of co-ed dorms. That dating is destroyed and you don't go through this. That one a lot to go through the. Of the growth of knowing each other exchange of letters. Thanking the fantasy of the other person which can lead your affection to grow and even month after month, even though you are apart from the person that you grow with. No women's Liberation is the topic I talked about last night and I'm going to have to skip it this morning with the mixed feelings, but it's very interesting that the women's Liberation movement, which is I said last night is bound to come and I will, and I am somewhere other will succeed leads to a great increase in importance on the part of man. I used to be that when men patients came to us. Like there was only maybe 5 or 6% would complain of impotence now 30% complained of it. And this is a very interesting phenomenon because it seems to be directly related to the growth of the development of women's liberation. Not that important on the part of man. You see a man can rape a woman but a woman cannot rape a man brings out is the beginning crucial point of the difference of what must be realized on the part of the sex is rape a woman. If one is the important and it once NC evidence is a positive thing. It means a destruction of the idea that most of our men were brought up with that we get our men in this out of the fact That women are subordinate will you get into the pattern of requiring from women or some woman? At least that's the admire us a strong people at the same time. We are weak because then she must take care of us. There's this dilemma. It's best as expressed in the in the drama. Gant by ever since you've read that recently. But this is a dilemma that goes all the way through the experience of man in this country. And in this says it is right that man become impotent. I often have will become impotent part way through Cycle Therapy. They are not impertinent first. They have a mechanical attitude toward sex and I know just what to do. Everything goes out except passion except feeling except really caring for another person. But then at part way through the psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, they become impotent I got worried but it's a very reassuring therapist to point out to them that why you were headed for this coming to you and you will get over it or they may believe me or not. Believe me. But in any case they don't get over it I stick it out and then they become sensitive man. And this is a great thing they become tender man, and this leads me into that lie to another cause of evidence which may not be at all related to women's Liberation. And this is the sensitivity within man off and it's the most sensitive man who are impotent to begin with in a love relationship poetic man. Artistic man, man who can feel that a great deal is going on in the impotence is is precisely an expression of the very true. I sense that something very powerful is going on between me and this woman this woman of May and I sent this power not as often true that men are impotent with women whom they especially love. This is I mean, I'm talking to a special about to begin with if they don't love somebody then there's no issue. But if there is a send saying that I am going into a relationship that could destroy me that could give me great joy that could give me that could be a source of great ecstasy for both of us a relationship like a chemical formula that will change us both and then we will we don't know how we're going to come out. Somebody may be careful. This is why the tragedies of Love are so poignant to us because we realize that there is an archetype of human life Romeo and Juliet never would have been the try to see if they had loved each other. Text Tristan and Isolde never would have been the tide today. It is a tragedy of love if you want to know it and if you do want to know something else love is always be sad, but try to get every step but love also is beset by ecstasy and joy, and if you give up on you, give up the other and this is a the sensitivity it is the the as a reason for impotence often at the beginning of relationships that turn into something not at all casual but something powerful and meaningful to both people turn into the kind of relationship intimacy becomes not something you substitute for the sharing of fantasy, but intimacy becomes a rich a richness. A relationship in which when the other person is delighted that you off and never know whether it's you or the other person and sexual relationships has they can be one never knows whether at the Tremor of daylight or Tremor of ecstasy or Joy has experienced or the other same thing. It doesn't matter whether I join is on one side or the other it's experience together has potentially contributed greatly to the responsibility of the possibility of the development of understanding between human beings. and one of the ways that has contributed is it women no longer being second-class citizens and not second-class citizens in the sexual relationship either. The man can rape woman with it but not vice versa is is a biological fact is not a psychological fact psychological anybody and then anybody who does obviously must pay for it, but there will come out of this of women's liberation of women to talk about what they Wishin sexuality what they want what they wish the man to do to ask the man when they want when they feel tenderness or sexuality or wanting to be loved or wanting to have intercourse the same before asked earlier only the man could ask other surprises some men I discovered and they think what's going on am I losing my touch more than one but then I don't think it should I think on the psychological level is coming the kind of communicate intimacy that can be more meaningful more tender more passionate more ecstatic more caring both sides and men will be liberated by the same act women's Liberation jeans men Liberation. It means human Liberation. It will mean the growth of all of us into a higher form of understanding and tenderness for each other. II need that must be dealt with if we are to have community and intimacy and that is the need for dignity. And this is the racial issue people who are called boy, even though they're 40 or 50 years of age. Like the blacks were for many centuries centuries. At least people that are kept always called by their first name when you are not care about your first night where I kept people are economically and sexually exploited as well. I'm back in the slave days. Try to get everybody sweetheart was raped by a white man mother sister daughter and they had some people accepted the strange thing that we whites believe that then suddenly they ought to come peaceably into our voting. Into our communities, how could we be so stupid the range is absolutely essential this kind of stupidity reminds me of homo sapiens off and I think we should call ourselves homo sap that we believe that background should be overlooked by the black free angry at every right in the world to be angry and there still is a good to go to that anger and when it comes up, I think the least we can do is why it's nice to realize that this is a necessary aspect of their existence and it's also necessary aspect of our penitence avara Penance. We must go through to achieve a genuine Community where all colors of human being Individualities originality will not be next in the Melting Pot Melting Pot it seems to me is not a ahold a constructive idea. I do not believe in melting everybody end of the same mold. It would be appreciated. The scale of the orientals or the skill of the Indians. I mean come from India are the red Indian so far as that goes we must arrive at a community. At least. This is what we must communicate with people of all color of all individuality of all will be welcome and their individuality will be original. They will be cherished by others in that community. From Summerfield read the books by France fan on and all the French black grew up in Algeria and wrote several books wretched of the earth. And what is it white man black hearts or something bad sort and then he died. He was a psychiatrist. He died at the age of 37 have cancer now and come to you came to Paris the end of this country and his heart was always in Algeria where he did his psychiatric work. He treats. Was treating the blacks are in Algeria when they were engaged and Revolution against the French one of his patients was depressed very depressed. Now that's depressed memes de taxi driver who fought for the resistance at night and drove attacks during the daytime and his wife was captured by the French take an Android. Buy successively by number of the soldiers was beaten in order to extract information about him. Now Vanoss's who could imagine that this man would not be depressed who could imagine that this man would not be enraged and this goes for the rest of them as well and that these books are there are books that that Advocate violence. He thinks the blacks will never get their real sense of participation in this world, except they go through some very interesting that these books were reviewed by a friend does a member of the Quaker Sac that believes pacifism and she said every place he was I could use nonviolence in the book would come out exactly the same way and this shows he wasn't really talking about violence at all. Was he himself says we must uplift the people of Africa, you must develop their brains with ideas make them into human beings. The living expression of the nation is the moving consciousness of the whole people. It is a coherent and lightened action the men and women we must first give back their dignity to all citizens. The third thing that is required if we are to have intimacy and communication. Is an understanding of what I already have handed that and that is an understanding of loneliness It Is by loneliness or Solitude. If you prefer that you'll become a person in your own right the positive side of loneliness is our own awareness of our Deeper Self. And if you cannot find ourselves, then we can also find anybody else. The loneliness is necessary. If we are as I say to find this Deeper Self, that's not by accident. But often are best ideas my most creative idea if we can hear them without being afraid of them come when we are a little Nature has everything to say about this. That's a great thing that needs to stay most of his life alone up in the mountains of Switzerland. Most people are afraid to be alone. And so they are like the Pioneers in America who at Night Beat on tin pans and cans to make a noise to Keep the Wolves Away the Wolves of London us you can keep doing enough things keep active. Keep moving. Keep noise going on then you think you don't get lonely but you then give up your real relationship or to your Deepest self shyness is a normal if a good stuff but I am and I want I used to fight that I was given a hundred two speeches and why don't you get over that that's a silly to be anxious before you give a speech and I did condition myself and I adjusted myself but giving a speech about any anxiety. I have a great inspiration the deathly they feeling of a horse of a horse at the at the starters Mark the valuable tension. That goes with anxiety and extroverts. It is a terrible thought when somebody only partially Smiles there can be behind that the whole wealth. I'll Dept of feeling that the day of see something in you or you in them that the mean something special you don't go grinning from ear-to-ear continuously with somebody who is saying something a genuine meaning now this depth of Life comes out of the capacity to be alone and Loan in this is essential if we are to develop our genuine selves but never been so far as possible and which weekend then I can accept loneliness even in relationship we can accept And we can then use it when we are riding when we are thinking when we are being we can use it at that point in life where it where we can dream where we can get fish ends. And in this sense that this is why I say is off in the comments when I when you are overtaking say what these liberal ideas when you're with somebody or without somebody now that should not at all the destruction of community. It should be a way in which Community becomes more meaningful with intimacy. This is why the great religious leaders always went by themselves before they came out to say anything important. Jesus went 40 days in the wilderness Buddha did I think of the same number of days a mess in my camera Shepherds and this being a Shepherd is being in a position for you. We are alone. How are you look at the saying that rolls off a head of yours Infinate as the ocean and you are scared. There's a kind of infinite anxiety in the desert service on the ocean and this to my mind is one of the sources of genuine religious feeling and this is why I think that this man is this Shepherd's Plum their deaths in the desert and then came in to say something to human beings that has turned out to be forever valuable. Authentic love becomes possible because we also can be lonely whenever we're alone me. I think we never would be a genuinely love this is when Adam and Eve are driven out of the Garden of Eden as Milton tells us they go out hand-in-hand looking before them to the world which is all that all the possibilities within it but the hand-in-hand is a Santa these two people now know that they're alone, they they need each other and they can find each other they can remain lonely and they also can I become more intimate I can find some Community but by virtue of the situation of essential human lonely. No, the last I need that I want to emphasize for our developing immunity and intimacy tragic sense. And this tragic sense. I believe is a crucial in America. If we are to solve the problem, why do have a creative dialectic between a community and intimacy? The sense of tragedy is born out of loneliness and if it comes directly out of this paradox. That I can love somebody so far as I know with my whole heart, but I know that I always am somewhat apart from that person and that's a bad person speeding because I cannot go now maybe I can understand this person quite a lot but still there are depths. There are sore throat Joys that I only partially can know there's always some separation between us loneliness and solitude but nevertheless it is the best community we can have and all of this reality comes to sense of tragedy. It is a tragedy that I not only cannot fully understand the human being but then I also act against this person my own individuality. This is the meaning of original sin. Do you want to know what this is taken from Kierkegaard beautiful? You described it doesn't Adam and Eve doesn't have anything to do with sex as such but sex has to do with a symptom of the fact that we always are separate Even in our most intimate moments that the sexual act is a relationship in the separation coming together in a separate a continuous separation and unity and out of the separation comes a sense of tragedy and out of the unity of the little baby sucking at his mother's breast. Is it kind of a there's no doubt about it? But never the last this is the beginning of a genuine love the umbilical cord has to be found a new on a psychological level. These are paradoxes. Was that become no longer while becoming still are partly physical but I'll become especially psychological these paradoxes Force us into a tragic. It's an awareness that goes beyond our own mortality the tragedy that comes out of the contrast all the ways of the dialectical relationship between faith and freedom. I'm faded to be an individual but also that's a source of my freedom. I'm faded to be members of many groups or I must surrender some of my individual that they are brought together in a sense of tragedy that I believe is one of our great blacks. In America and Sunday when we realize this all the great truths a history and these many of the Great rulers of History fall into place the meaning of vicarious. Then make some sense. He who seeks to save his life shall lose. It makes sense. I Had State of human consciousness in this sentence. We can accept into our community also our enemies as well as those who love us we can have mercy toward those we hate not covering over the hatred realizing my hatred and even saying it outright if the occasion from it, but it comes out of the mystery of life. I need my anime in my community is very interesting how people will feel bereft An enemy dies life is like that and if I kill Kane if I destroy my brother who has become my anime. I must be into the desert a cleavage exists between me and the other members of my community. I have killed part of myself as I killed Abel. Now Community as well. As I have said I can accept my loan in this distinguishing between that part of it which can be shifted into creative Solitude and that part of loneliness. My simply be born Community is where I can depend upon my photos to support me knowing that I can depend upon others, I guarantee all so that they can depend upon me Community is where I can not only be intimate but intimate declare myself speak out as the same word means not a community in which I am cared for by even those who disagree with me. I am supported even by Those whom I stand against and this is the kind of community and ideal to be short. But an idea that to me I can make for an Authentic Intimacy. I'll be at paradox. Thank you very much.