"Faith is the bird that feels the light and sings when the dawn is still dark. 
In effect, the people who change our lives the most begin to 
sing to us while we are still in darkness. If we listen to 
their song, we will see the dawning of a new part of ourselves."

Rabindranth Tagore

Existential Intelligence is the sensitivity and capacity to engage questions about human existence – how we got here, whether we have a purpose, and whether there is meaning in Life. Existential intelligence embraces the exploration of aesthetics, philosophy, religion and values like beauty, truth, and goodness. A strong existential intelligence allows human beings to see their place in the big picture, be it in the classroom, community, world, or universe.

First proposed by Howard Gardner, existential intelligence is one of nine theorized intelligences and is considered to be amoral – that is, it and the other eight categories of human intelligence can be used either constructively or destructively.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Seeking Forgiveness

This week I was embarrassed and dismayed to discover that the post I wrote on election night and the responses that followed, upset one of my most beloved friends.

I have searched my soul to determine where I might have gone off track by sounding too critical of the other side. Because that was not my intent. My intent was to voice a concern that both sides of the political debate have resorted to tactics that aren’t civil. That we must categorically reject reactionary behavior.

I still don’t have an answer to how I could have written my post differently. Perhaps I could not have done so. But as the Pollyanna I am, I have sought a silver lining to the dark cloud hovering over me since that post.

The silver lining is the unifying, transcendent power of art, and specifically, of art cloth.

Those of use who love cloth don’t come from similar backgrounds. Some of us have had high-powered careers; some of us have never worked outside the house. Some of us are degreed, but many of us are not. Some have big aspirations, but many of us just love the work for the work, and are content to allow it to be so.

Our love of cloth overcomes varied family backgrounds, personal experience and education, and yes, political points of view. Which is a Hurray Moment.

I was on line this morning looking up the phone number for Spoonflower – that on-demand fabric printing site I’ve mentioned before. Stephen Fraser, one of the founders of the company, was featured in a UTube video, sponsored by the State of North Carolina. The overview of the company’s development was terrific, but what I loved most was Stephen’s statement that the company flourishes because of word of mouth – because of, in his words, ”community.” Community building.

I worry about how We will work through the current state of affairs in our government. I worry about our trashing of the planet and I worry about big business and the banking industry. These huge companies were not founded by a desire to do right in the community. They were founded to make a profit. Companies and banks don’t have a conscience. They aren’t socialized creatures. They are sociopathic entities and we, the real community, are paying the price for encouraging and indulging these practices in our culture.

How to translate our cloth community aesthetic into the at-large culture?

Rebuke? Revision? Restructure?

I am still asking myself these questions and I don’t have any answers. But I/we must engage and not falter. I am sorry I offended my friend. I hope we can continue to talk it out. Without the continued conversation among loving peers, resolution is doomed to failure. Please don’t be afraid to talk to those around you. Or share in away that could benefit others. All of us.

This is our charge.


  1. You are forgiven. Sometimes people over react in the heat of the moment. I am one of those people, unlike you, that more often than not, speaks out. I do wear my heart on my sleeve. I have gotten into trouble more than once and then regretted it because someone took such offense. We all have a right to our opinions and you very carefully chose your words to express your opinions. Have fun with your groupies. Hugs to my good friends who get to be there with you this week.

  2. I don't think anything in your comments were hurtful.

    I think it's important for us to speak out in this unhappy political environment, and that was what I was trying to do. If my comments upset your friend, I apologize. In trying to express my frustration with the political situation, my comments may have been perceived as being hateful. It was not my intention- I don't want to become that which I criticize. I believe in civil discourse, the power of logic, and social justice.

  3. Here's an example of what's wrong with the current rhetoric.

    "I worry about our trashing of the planet and I worry about big business and the banking industry. These huge companies were not founded by a desire to do right in the community. They were founded to make a profit. Companies and banks don’t have a conscience. They aren’t socialized creatures. They are sociopathic entities and we, the real community, are paying the price for encouraging and indulging these practices in our culture."

    Most every large company started as a small company by one person or a small group of people just trying to provide a product or service that other people will want, while at the same time taking care of their families. Why does that them evil? Are you also against all small companies that aspire to be large companies? How do you know that they were all founded to "not do right in the community"? ALL of them? I have worked for several large companies and your vilification of them (and me for working for them) is a cheap shot and patently wrong. As one example, my most recent employer not only had many fairly-compensated employees, who feed economies around the world, but they run a very honest business and are extremely supportive of the community here.

    It is because I worked hard for, coincidentally, large companies, that I was able to work and save so that I can now become a full time artist. Does that make me evil too? Can I not be a legitimate artist because I worked in Corporate America? How in the world would we even have a modern society without the banking industry? Is there really something wrong with wanting to have a modern society?

    Theres' good and bad in every arena of life. Vilifying the employers of our neighbors and family members doesn't solve any problems.

    It's the current trend of people on all sides of an issue to label EVERYONE on the other side of an issue as an IDIOT that prevents us from having any sort of constructive dialogue. Until we can accept that we all have valid points of view (we do) and that we all contributed (we did) to the problems then we will never solve them.

  4. Well, you didn't offend me. I'm worried too Jane. I can't stand the yelling on TV shows regardless of which side of the fence they are on. There is growing evidence that the US is changing and not for the better. Since the 1980's the rich have gotten richer in America and more and more of the middle class is moving into the lower class income group. This is considered to be a more significant change than all the other years of our existence. One international study says that we are now 4th in the world in terms of quality of life, behind Austraila, New Zealand and Norway. This is based primarily on this shrinking of the middle class. Another study has us much further down the list.

    I'm at a conference as I write this where we've had countless people say that our economy will not recover until we get the rising health care costs under control but politics seems to make a national health care system further and further away.

    I'll quit ranting and go back to the meeting. Much love to you Jane.

  5. Vicki made great points - some of which I'd thought about after I published my post. I adore my local bankers and I know on a local level it isn't local people who are the problem. I've worked my entire life in either the restaurant industry or as a freelance artist and nothing is more challenging (or more rewarding). I know how hard the people around me have worked.
    But I stand by my comments on corporate entities that compromise their own employees in favor of large payoffs to top brass - and on the need to figure out what to do about a system that still allows some members of our Culture to greedily pillage the rest of us. And ANY member of our Congress who allows this and looks away - no matter who he or she might be. NO matter what persuasion.

    Thank you, Vicki, for your post. I honor the work you did to be able to retire and pursue a second life as an artist. Nothing I wrote was meant to be taken on a personal level. It wasn't meant to imply that there aren't good companies who contribute above and beyond the call to the communities that include them. It wasn't meant to be anything other than a cry into the wilderness, seeking others who wish we could behave differently.

    Perhaps I wasn't as eloquent as I could have been. I can only hope I make up for it in sincerity and in a desire for Americans to put down some of our antagonism toward each other.

  6. Your post and the comments to it were actually uplifting to me as I've become very discouraged about the direction of this country. I believe that we have to "return" to the community concept - I know some would say you can't go back--but we need to shop with our locally owned shops, eat and buy our food locally, think and do greenly (new word), educate our young far better than we are now and on goes the list.
    I was listening to an interview with a German economist, Nobel prize winner, recently who advocates "development rather than growth." I agree.
    The exchange resulting from your post on Sunday is good - we need more of this sort of conversation. It is good to hear what others are thinking and feeling in the thoughtful way is happened here...and without rancor or yelling. thanks

  7. I don't think anything in your post was angry or meanhearted. Concerned, frustrated, wondering deeply about how & why & where we are as a nation as people.
    This past election cycle I had 3 almost-friendship-ending deep & public conversations with a dear friend. In the end, we are still friends because we, as I speak to this process, "stayed in the room". We did not leave the conversation, our own truths, or our respect & love for each other, even though our viewpoints were almost diametrically opposed.
    And, at the end of the day, I think what Jane was speaking to, & certainly a guiding principle of mine, is that we NEED to get back to that tradition, as individuals & as a nation.
    The issues we face are complex & interconnected; literally our survival rests on our ability to find answers to these difficult issues. In order to find answers we have to stay in the room~keep being willing to dialogue, & to not succumb to turning our backs on those who have a differing set of answers, or questions, than we have.
    Recently, the political landscape & the media have not been doing very well at keeping true dialogue alive.
    We must.
    Thank you.

  8. Community implies relationship and that implies some degree of caring, knowing we're all together in this world. When factions can no longer speak to or really listen to each other, community is broken. Lack of community is lack of caring--for others, for keeping one's word. Many faceless corporate conglomerates have broken community and become greedy and self-serving. There is still much of great value in our society, still many, both personal and corporate, who do care. We must engage those strengths and re-build. The atmosphere right now, post-election, is chillingly and harshly uncommunicative. Our art speaks without words, across all kinds of lines. We offer our very souls for the world to see. We cannot rebuild alone but we may begin.

  9. In response to the large company thread of the conversation: I think that the problem with companies in our current economic system is, that no matter how kind-hearted and wonderful the individuals who work in them are - if they are listed, then they are legally obliged to maximise profit for their shareholders. It is for this reason that when they apply a standard personality profile to a listed company (which technically it is possible to do as a company is legally seen as a "Person") the average large company is classified not as a sociopath, but, a psychopath. ( I hope I am remembering the details correctly here, but it was a huge aha for me to realise that the CEO of some of the large companies that are notoriously exploitative was not an evil/bad person)
    It has nothing to do with those who work within them, it is these structures that we have created. I trust that all these discussions and growing awareness around these issues are what is required for a groundswell of discontent to arise, which is the only way in which change will ever be effected. How can we as artists use our art and the work we do and the communities we are part of to further prod people to greater awareness?
    Thank you Jane for making me think about this again.

  10. I found your blog from a reference by another blogger I check fairly regularly. I do little with blogs and usually "lurk", even with the one just mentioned. Your two "election" blogs required a response - of the greatest support. Thank you, in this time of tumultuous politics, for saying what many of us are feeling and thinking but have given up expressing. I am 60, very well educated and of higher than "average" intelligence - and I no longer actively participate in political discussions. Most are no longer discussions; they are bitter debates based on fear of change and losing control - regardless of "side". We are basically a ruderless society except for those of us who have retreated to doing what we can do to improve the lives of our local communities, neighbors, friends, and families. I truly do not understand why people cannot see the futility of holding one man/woman accountable for issues that are decades old and beyond his/her control. The federal government has cut off its nose to spite its face, and the country will soon bleed to death; the saddest part is that those who are/will be most responsible will try to "fix it" with the same tactics: the blame game - of others, never the self.
    Yes, I also voted for Obama, if for no other reason (there were several) than to make one last stand for significant change.
    Thank you for letting me have a moment on the box; I am usually a very positive person - another reason for avoiding politics. Bless all who are participating in the attempt to lead our country - at whatever level - to a higher moral ground.