Wednesday, February 1, 2012

An alternative take on “The Gestalt Prayer”

Let’s set the stage a little. Anyone who might remember the days of the “human potential movement” probably learned Fritz Perls’ “Gestalt Prayer”:
I do my thing, and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you and I am I.
If by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful.
If not, it can’t be helped.
At some point in the late 1970s the editor of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Tom Greening, compiled some of the alternative versions (and the occasional parody) of “The Gestalt Prayer”. One that I found especially useful and timely goes as follows:
I do my thing, and you do your thing.
I am not in this world to live up to your expectations
And you are not in this world to live up to mine.
You are you and I am I
And if by chance we find
Our brothers and sisters enslaved
And the world under fascist rule
Because we were doing our thing -
It can’t be helped?
I don’t know who the author of that version was, but it originally appeared in some publication called Rough Times. In it, I see a warning against the hyperindividualism that would come to define American culture during the last quarter of the 20th century up to the present in the still early years of the 21st century.

Another version, penned by You-Yuh Kuo, provides some food for thought as well:
If I just do my thing and you do yours,
We stand in danger of losing our society
And eventually ourselves.

We owe our present to the past
And ourselves to previous generations.
How much can we call ours?

Wild geese fly easier as a group.
Tulips look more beautiful as clusters.
We do not find each other by chance,
Nor together only by twos.
Don’t think too much about yourself.
There are many things we can do together.

We must begin with ourselves, true.
But why not lose ourselves, too,
In communal spirit,
For all, not for one or two?
Perhaps a call to solidarity?

No comments:

Post a Comment