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of Ivan Illich
Learned and leisurely hospitality is the only
antidote to the stance of deadly cleverness that is acquired in the
professional pursuit of objectively secured knowledge. I remain certain
that the quest for truth cannot thrive outside the nourishment of mutual
trust flowering into a commitment to friendship.
From ‘Celebration of Awareness’ by Ivan Illich
I and many others, known and unknown to me, call upon you:
- to celebrate our joint power to provide all
human beings with the food, clothing, and shelter they need to
delight in living;
- to discover, together with us what we must do
to use mankind's power to create the humanity, the dignity, and the
joyfulness of each one of us;
- to be responsibly aware of your personal
ability to express your true feelings and to gather us together in
We can only live these changes: we cannot think our way to humanity.
Every one of us, and every group with which we live and work must become
the model of the era which we desire to create. The many models which
will develop should give each one of us an environment in which we can
celebrate our potential - and discover the way into a more humane world.
We are challenged to break the obsolete social and economic systems
which divide our world between the overprivileged and the
underprivileged. All of us whether government leader or protester,
businessman or worker, professor or student share a common guilt. We
have failed to discover how the necessary changes in our ideals and
social structures can be made. Each of us therefore through our
ineffectiveness and our lack of responsible awareness, causes the
suffering around the world.
All of us are crippled - some physically, some mentally, some
emotionally. We must therefore strive cooperatively to create the new
world. There is no time left for destruction, for hatred, for anger. We
must build, in hope and joy and celebration. Let us meet the new era of
abundance with self-chosen work and freedom to follow the drum of one's
own heart. Let us recognize that a striving for self realization, for
poetry and play, is basic to man once his needs for [....] been met -
that we will choose those areas of activity which will contribute to our
own development and will be meaningful to our society.
But we must also recognize that our thrust toward self-realization is
profoundly hampered by outmoded, industrial age structures. We are
presently constrained and driven by the impact of man's ever growing
powers. Our existing systems force us to develop and accept any weaponry
system which may be technologically possible; our present systems force
us to develop and accept any improvement in machinery, equipment,
materials, and supplies which will increase production and lower costs;
our present systems force us to develop and accept advertising and
In order to persuade the citizen that he controls his destiny, that
morality informs decisions, and that technology is the servant rather
than the driving force, it is necessary today to distort information.
The ideal of informing the public has given way to trying to convince
the public that forced actions are actually desirable actions.
Miscalculations in these increasingly complex rationalisations and
consequent scandal, account for the increasing preoccupation with the
honesty of both private and public decision makers. It is therefore
tempting to attack those holding roles such as national leader,
administrator, manager, executive, labour leader, professor, student,
parent. But such attacks on individuals often disguise the real nature
of the crisis we confront: the demonic nature of present systems which
force man to consent to his own deepening self-destruction.
We can escape from these dehumanising systems. The way ahead will be
found by those who are unwilling to be constrained by the apparently
all-determining forces and structures of the industrial age. Our freedom
and power are determined by our willingness to accept responsibility for
Indeed the future has already broken into the present. We each live in
many times. The present of one is the past of another, and the future of
yet another. We are called to live, knowing and showing that the future
exists and that each one of us can call it in, when we are willing, to
redress the balance of the past.
In the future we must end the use of coercive power and authority: the
ability to demand action on the basis of one's hierarchical position. If
any one phrase can sum up the nature of this new era, it is the end
of privilege and license.
We must abandon our attempt to solve our problems through shifting
power balances or attempting to create more efficient bureaucratic
We call you to join man's race to maturity, to work with us in inventing
the future. We believe that a human adventure is just beginning: that
mankind has so far been restricted in developing its innovative and
creative powers because it was overwhelmed by toil. Now we are free to
be as human as we will.
The celebration of man's humanity through joining together in the
healing expression of one's relationships with others, and one's growing
acceptance of one's own nature and needs, will clearly create major
confrontations with existing values and systems. The expanding dignity
of each man and each human relationship must necessarily challenge
The call is to live the future. Let us join together joyfully to
celebrate our awareness that we can make our life today the shape of
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