Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

In sum, these two mutually reinforcing phenomena – namely, the condensation of societies and the global division of labor – and thus the necessity to foster “organic solidarity” between different but like-minded people in order to make up for the erosion of “mechanical solidarity” based on blood ties and communal ties in turn creates a situation according to Emile Durkheim which “produces a coming together between individuals who were separated – or, at least, a closer relationship than existed previously.” Durkheim added: “Consequently, there is an interchange of action between parts of the social mass which, until then, had no effect upon one another.”

I have mentioned previously how my own personal experiences have led to the realization that economic, political, and social phenomena stemming from the West have essentially eroded “mechanical solidarity” in virtually every part of the world. And as a result of the erosion of “mechanical solidarity” virtually everywhere, Durkheim noted that: “Social life, instead of being concentrated in a large number of separate, small centres, each of which resembles the other, is generalized.”

This “coming together” of so many different kinds of people as a result of economic, political, and social phenomena that are largely out of anyone’s control necessitates some sort of organization, and as a result, the ‘division of labor’ is an attempt to organize and mend the situation stemming from the unexplainable condensation of international society. As Durkheim wrote:

“Social relations – or more correctly, intra-social relations – consequently become more numerous, since they extend, on all sides, beyond their original limits. The division of labour develops, therefore, as there are more individuals sufficiently in contact to be able to act and react upon one-another. If we agree to call this coming together, and the active commerce resulting from it, ‘dynamic’ or ‘formal’ density, we can say that the progress of the division of labour is in direct ratio to the moral or dynamic density of society.”

Globalization and technology have now fostered a situation whereby the density of society – and thus the division of labor – is now global in scope. As a result, every country and perhaps every individual has a role to play in this global division of labor, and the roles are defined quite rigidly. Also, the manner in which these roles are defined are largely ‘Eurocentric’ in nature. Many Americans are tired of their role as the ‘world’s policeman’ and have become quite frustrated with the political dysfunction and paralysis in Washington which results from this rigidly defined role. Not only is there a mental exhaustion from the perpetuity of this role among many Americans, but there is also a logistical crisis which will hit home in a matter of years as a result of this role, in addition to the inflation and shortages which are now affecting the American people as a result of the rigidity of this role.

Knowing full well the adverse effects that the mismanagement of this role in Washington has had on the world, some of us have chosen to wander off the path and define our own roles in society, regardless of whether people are happy about it or not. As Rumi wrote in a poem titled “Inside Sight”:

You are the king’s son.

Why do you close yourself up?

Become a lover.

Do not aspire to be a general

or a minister of state.

One is boredom for you,

the other a disgrace.

You have been a picture on a bathhouse wall long enough.

No one recognizes you here, do they?

God’s lion disguised as a human being.

I saw that and put down the book I was studying,

Hariri’s Maqamat.

There is no early and late for us.

The only way to measure a lover

is by the grandeur of the beloved.

Judge a moth by the beauty of its candle.

Shams is invisible because he is inside sight.

He is the intelligent essence

of what is everywhere at once, seeing.

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