If I had to engage in some sort mandatory writing assignment that included choosing one word to describe 2010 thus far, I would pick “emergence.” I guess this isn’t really a hypothetical situation, since I’ve “assigned” myself to contributing regularly to this blog, and I have an affinity for one word titles that lead me into a concise, yet beneficial (hopefully), discussion.
In grad school, one of the many Homi Bhabha quotes that was seared into my brain was “And the state of emergency is also always a state of emergence.” (The Location of Culture, 59) Of course, Bhabha was writing of the postcolonial state and the subversion of dominant Western historical discourse. At the risk of offending postcolonial scholars everywhere, I am going to pull this quote out of context (bear with me) and apply it to a different discussion altogether.
2010 has been a year of “emergency.” As we (individuals, communities, families, nations) move through these emergencies (personal, social, political, large-scale/small-scale, local/international), we necessarily emerge changed. We may not emerge in a place we ever expected to be (or knew existed). We may not even understand we have emerged until long after the experience of emergency has faded from our memories. But the emergence occurs, whether we like it our not, whether we think we can control it or not. Like larvae, we metamorphose.
There is beauty in the process of emergence, there is also pain, injustice and the persistance of patterns we thought had been broken. Often, we pretend we have not emerged; we cling to old ways of thinking and doing. The challenge is to be mindful of the narratives and lessons that are revealed through the emergency itself and the emergence that follows. The emergence will happen, but we must choose to learn, grow and adapt to new realities. Those around us are emerging as well. Through our emergence we find common ground, not because we have emerged similarly or in the same place, but because we’ve gone through the process.