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8) Synergy and Service

The universe is made up of wholes within wholes: atoms, molecules, cells, organs, individuals, social groups, bioregions, solar systems, galaxies - each has its own integrity, its own "personality." Each, as a whole, is more than the sum of its parts. That is what is meant by "synergy." At any given level, more energy is coming out of the system than went into it. In The Global Brain, Peter Russell notes that synergy occurs "when the goals of the individual components are in harmony with the needs of the system as a whole." And Jesus said, "Whenever two or more come together in my name, I am there."

The U.V. Family, in their essay The Possible Relationship, have a wonderful discussion of synergy within a panfaithful context:

"What we say is that the law of synergy is the law of squares. Two people working together in synergy can accomplish the work of four, three can do the work of nine, four of sixteen.

"Synergy is to a group as erotic love is to a couple or ecstasy is to an individual. It is the energy that is available when the brakes are off, the barriers are gone, and the need for defenses drops away. It is thrilling to experience and powerful in its ability to affect the world. It is also morally neutral; the energy of synergy could as well fuel the Nazi Youth Corps as the cast of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Consequently, in our conscious invocation of this power we are mindful to do it in the context of love and service.

"In her original work on synergy the anthropologist Ruth Benedict identified several commonalities among synergistic societies, two of which are:
1) siphoning of `wealth' (i.e., when any member accumulates more of what is deemed valuable, that excess is siphoned off and redistributed to the rest);
and 2) a way to make amends for errors. Sharing (not hoarding) and forgiveness (not resentment and blame) - these are two qualities built into our relationship. In our commitment to service, none of us hoards credit or recognition for enhancement of our egos. It's about `getting the job done,' not about who does it. And through our commitment to honesty, we don't harbor dark secrets or silent grudges, so mistakes can be acknowledged forthrightly and corrected. It is in the cleaning up of an error that we demonstrate our good will and real intentions. Forgiveness of oneself for having blundered is complete when the apologies are delivered and the effects of the error are corrected. Forgiveness of one another is complete when the trust that we are solidly aligned in vision is re-established. In that light, any act is simply an expression, skillful or not skillful, of the divine intent.

"Fostering synergy could be seen as one way to transmute common interpersonal power struggles. A key to this is empowerment. Rather than wasting precious human time, energy and resources on `cutting each other down to size,' we seek to increase and maximize the power each of us is stewarding, since that allows us as a team to be effective. It requires that each of us be comfortable with our own power, that we allow ourselves to be powerful with each other, and that we have the humility to acknowledge to others our gratitude for and inspiration from each other. This surprises people who are accustomed to intimates disempowering each other - i.e., complaining about each other's faults and weaknesses.

"To further clarify synergy, we can make an analogy to a high-powered telescope. The most important component allowing such a telescope to bring Saturn into perfect focus is a series of lenses, carefully polished and in proper orientation to one another. However, if the lenses are out of alignment, if one is smeared with dirt, if they are not focused correctly, or id they are the wrong distance from each other - nothing happens. The power of the telescope depends on the right relationship of its component lenses. Likewise, synergy depends on the people involved being in alignment, with a shared vision and a shared purpose, with their hearts and minds open, with a willingness to share all and a commitment to stick with it till the game is over. With all that in place, energy can flow through that single instrument and truly light up the world."

To light up the world is to serve the world in love. To be panfaithful, to be faithful to all, is to love God by serving the body of life - our larger Self. Service is green faith in practice. Once again, the U.V. Family,

"Relationships are not for the individuals in them - they are for the world. When relationships ignore that they are conducted in a much wider arena called life-on-earth and do not see as their primary purpose the enrichment of this greater whole, they tend to display symptoms of dis-ease.... The short way to say this is that the purpose of a relationship is service to the well being of all of life. It's not about getting anything - a mate, married, kids, grandkids, old age security, approval and acceptance, emotional support, strokes... Service is not an activity but an attitude, a willingness to do whatever is needed for the highest outcome for all.

"In this context of giving out rather than getting from, relationships have a purpose that is both greater than the individuals involved and in alignment with the real needs of life. And that's the secret to lasting love, for energy = ecstasy = love, and service is what opens the valve."

Panfidelity is a service-orientated philosophy and way of life. The purpose of living panfaithfully is to serve humanity - especially those most in need - and to serve the Body of which humanity is a part. For the panfaithful, social justice and environmental restoration go hand in hand. We cannot achieve one without the other.

Service can be thought of in a many ways. From a time-developmental perspective, we can serve the past by cherishing the gifts and contributions of previous generations, both human and nonhuman. We can serve the present by being a blessing to others and by enriching our communities here and now. We can serve the future by restoring ecological integrity to our bioregion and by working to create a just and sustainable economic and political order, nationally and internationally. To serve the future is to serve our children and grandchildren.

We must live in ecologically sustainable communities if humanity is to survive into the future. We must live our lives in deep communion with each other and with our bioregion: willingly and joyfully sharing possessions and dwelling space, growing food together in a way that enhances our lives and the soil, resolving conflict creatively, laughing, working, playing, and celebrating together, and, in short, living unpossessively in love with each other and with all of Life. We must create ecological communities where we can be most truly ourselves, where we can experience loving physical touch, where we can share our finitude and brokenness and feel loved unconditionally, and where we are both supported and challenged to be all that we can be. Panfidelity is a philosophy and way of life designed specifically to nurture and grow such expanded families and ecological communities. Whether we are straight, gay, or bisexual, whether we are monogamous, non-monogamous, or celibate, may we all live panfaithfully, for our children's sake and for the sake of all future generations of Earth-life.

We may welcome the evolution of the family or we may resist it, but we must begin consciously choosing sustainable family structures which support the welfare of our children, or we risk the very survival of humanity.

-- Deborah Anapol

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