Identity, Engagement, and Meaning

Inspired by a conversation with Tom Graves (@tetradian) of Tetradian

In “Possessed by possession?”, Tom elegantly explores the theme &  notion of possession and claims “our entire culture is possessed by possession.” Furthermore, Tom elegantly advocates “the alternative to a possession-based economy is a responsibility-based model: one in which we ‘own’ something because we declare responsibility for it and manage it accordingly.” The complete post is well worth a read!

However, rather than consider us being “possessed by possession,” perhaps we are experiencing the unfolding or emergence of our identities where the tensions between the individual and collective are being harmonized. This involves the evolution of our communities as we evolve and resolve these tensions, which include: identity, engagement, negotiation of meaning, participation through more tacit means, and reification through more explicit means. Perhaps the “possession-based economy” relates to our communities’ reification through more explicit means and perhaps the “responsibility-based economy” relates to our communities’ participation through more tacit means where we will ultimately resolve these tensions by optimally deriving the most meaning by engaging one another and discovering who & what we truly are. It is more than mere “alternative” between possession and responsibility but seeking holistic/integral resolution.

As Tom expresses:

But we’re architects: we’re used to constraints, in fact for most of us it’s the kind of challenge that we relish. Yet this is definitely ‘The Big One’: the greatest architectural challenge any of us will ever face. So what will this challenge mean to you – professionally, personally, in every other way? And what part will you play in this?

In our journey, we will explore, discover, and continuously evolve our identity — “we [must] declare responsibility [that is, self-responsibility] for it [that is, our identity] and manage it accordingly”!


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