Kalamazoo author Mark Nepo says all spiritual traditions speak of the whole being greater than sum of its parts. He says while it’s presented differently, the basic idea is that we need each other to “be all of who we are, and even more together.”
Nepo’s most recent book is called More Together Than Alone. He will discuss the book on Thursday February 21st at 7:00p.m. in room 2452 of Knauss Hall. Nepo’s address is sponsored by the University Center for the Humanities. It’s called More Together Than Alone: The Power of Spirit and Community.
Nepo says the idea of community varies by culture and nation. He says Americans have a strong tradition of self-reliance. He says African culture for example is more community based. But Nepo says a balance is needed between the time we spend in solitude and with others. He says whales and dolphins provide an example. Nepo says both need to be in the deep in the ocean in solitude, but he says they also have to come above water into the world to breathe, and then go back under.
As a cancer survivor, Nepo says he understands the value of community. He was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma about 30 years ago. “It became really clear, you don’t interview ambulance drivers, you take the first one who comes along.” He says going through cancer treatment helped him start conversations because “the protocols and etiquette …they were thrown out the window.” Nepo says “We were on the same raft trying to make it to tomorrow.” He says over the years he wondered what ways cultures and communities come together. Nepo says writing about that in his most recent book was a 13 year process.