Citizenship is a key factor in civic engagement. When a citizen becomes more committed to their community, the level of service within
that community is likely to increase. The dilemma comes when trying to figure
out how to get citizens to become more active in their community, why some are so active while others are not. Petersmeyer suggests that the factor that causes one person to become so much more involved within their
community is not so much learning about a problem within the community. Rather,
it is learning more about yourself and what abilities you have that can be shared with the community in order to solve the
problem. Everybody has strength to contribute, and because of this, social capital
is a great treasure in working as a community, in working as a team. Jeff Swartz
illustrates in a letter to Bill Shore that “humanity [is] capable
of transcendence (p. 115)”, only when they accept their social responsibility, “only when individuals commit themselves
to each other” (p. 114). Change is possible. Humanity benefits when there is community. Therefore, community
should be a priority. Community, according to Shore, can be accomplished through
the creativity of the individual and the individual’s commitment to the others.
Shore refers to as “cathedral building” is what Koestler calls “bisociation theory” (p. 145). This theory comes from the idea that everything created by humans is the result of
at least two previously separate ideas; many ideas from different places can be combined to create something new. This is where “share our strength” comes in; not as in Bill Shore’s antipoverty and antihunger
organization. Rather, “share our strength” as in the idea behind
Shore’s organization: let us literally “share our strength”. Our
strengths can be these ideas, as well as abilities, which can be added to each other in order to create more social capital. Having a wide variety of interests, abilities, ideas, and activities within a community
results in more of an ability to get things accomplished, due to this increase in social capital.
Martin Luther King Jr. said in one of his speeches, “One of the greatest agonies of life is that we are constantly trying
to finish that which is unfinishable”. The ancient Cathedral builders put
their whole heart into working on something that would not be finished within their lifetime, something they would not see
completed. So, also, we should put our heart into the building of our community. We will not see the completed masterpiece in our lifetime because it is a job which
will never be finished. Things can always be added or restored and somehow improved. As Dr. King said in reference to First Kings, chapter eight, “It’s well
that it’s in thine heart.”
well as the group aspect of a community there is also the individual level. We
should not only strive to be like the ancient Cathedral builders in our community; we should also strive to be like them in
our own heart. We should set goals for ourselves and seek to accomplish them. It takes time and patience, focus and determination, and a lot of learning from our
mistakes, but change is possible and one person can make a difference. According
to Shore, what we need is to “visualize a result, think backward, and implement forward” (p. 109).
Shore’s “The Cathedral Within” shows me the cathedral I have begun to build within myself and the cathedral
being built within my community. What this book has suggested to me is that it
is necessary to first begin to build the cathedral within ourselves. As Vaclav
Havel puts it “the salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect,
in human meekness, and in human responsibility.” Then it is possible to
begin the building of the cathedral within our community. We cannot contribute
what we do not have.
cathedral building begins on an individual level, it cannot stop there. It is
a team effort. A team is a group of people who, in spite of being different and
because of being different, can work together toward a common goal. Some differences
can be overlooked in order to accomplish the goal. Other differences between
them as individuals make them stronger as a team. Such difference creates a variety
of interests, ideas and specialties. This creates social capital and, therefore,
makes the team stronger.
“The Cathedral Within”, Shore seems to mention children a lot, and their role in society as the future of the
world. Petersmeyer suggests that learning about yourself and your own abilities
is more contributing to becoming involved within their community than is learning about the community’s problems. I therefore believe that focusing on the future of our world and their education is
the best investment of our time.
able to educate children about material knowledge is necessary. Being able to
teach them in such a way that they want to seek to know more, especially about themselves, their abilities, and how they can
use their strengths to contribute to the wellbeing of the world is even more important.
This is necessary knowledge for me in my future in community service because I plan on getting a job that involves
working with children. I feel that the best service I can do for the community
is to show love to the children and to teach them.
dependence on initial conditions” is scientists’ term for the snowball effect (p. 42). One event experienced by one person does not result in only that one person experiencing that one event. Everything that we do does not just affect ourselves.
Rather, it affects others as well, either directly or indirectly. Therefore,
it is best that these experiences are positive ones in which we learn more about ourselves as well as others.