Meta Post: Shift from “I-It” to “I-Thou” Relationships

After reading the launch and query blog posts from this week, the terminology of Jewish philosopher Martin Buber comes to my mind when he discusses the distinction between an “I-It” and an “I-Thou” relationship.  In the posts, there appears to be an overarching theme of separateness and detachment between those living in affluence and those living in poverty; an “I-It” relationship.  FunfettiCakeMix discusses this very idea in response to the article titled, “Poor Residents Suffer Deepest Impact of Hurricane Katrina” by writing that “there is a huge gap between the poverty stricken and minorities (which are often the same group) and the middle to wealthy class, who are usually white.”  FlyingSquirrelEater discusses this same sentiment in response to an interview with Beverly Wright and questions, “How do we go beyond simply doing service…how do we invest ourselves in the community?”  The same idea is explored by HomoSapiensWalkingWonders in another response to Wright’s interview by asking, “How can government leaders and other people who know about this situation stand by and let these people continue to live in an environment that is detrimental to their health?”  To answer this question in the words of Martin Buber, it is because we have substituted an “I-Thou” relationship, which recognizes our interconnectedness as members of humanity, with an “I-It” relationship that objectifies certain people who we perceive to be different.  If we are to truly “fly above and beyond simple service” as HopefulWanderer1 titled their blog, then we must first recognize, and then work to remove, personal and societal prejudices that prevent us from living in “I-Thou” relationships with our sisters and brother that live at the margins of society.  Once we break through these barriers, we will truly be able to recognize the interdependence of all of humanity.  Maya Angelou, an American poet, memoirist and activist during the Civil Rights Movement once wrote, “In all my work what I try to say is that as human beings, we are more alike than we are unalike.”  If we all adopt this outlook, just imagine the advances that we could make when working to alleviate the many social injustices that permeate American society.

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