Cultural Butterfly

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"Weaving the Social Fabric"--David Brooks

New York Times columnist David Brooks makes the case for being a "weaver of social fabric" and creating a “culture of relationalism”, instead of being someone who “rips” it by stereotyping and other kinds of divisive behavior.

In his article "A Nation of Weavers: The social renaissance is happening from the ground up”, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/18/opinion/culture-compassion.html, he describes this powerful distinction that is at the core of many of today's major social challenges (from opioids to loneliness, suicide to racism, and from sexism to tribalism in politics).

He started “Weave: The Social Fabric Project” at the Aspen Institute, https://www.aspeninstitute.org/programs/weave-the-social-fabric-initiative. The first core idea was that social isolation is the problem underlying a lot of our other problems. The second idea was that this problem is being solved by people around the country, at the local level, who are building community and weaving the social fabric. How can we learn from their example and nationalize their effect?


Social scientists tell us that selfishness is natural, that people are motivated by money, power and status. But Weavers are not motivated by any of these things. They want to live in right relation with others and to serve the community good.

Social fragmentation is the core challenge of our day. We long to be together, but we are apart. We are isolated by distrust, polarization, trauma and incivility. We live in a hyper-individualistic culture that pays lip service to community but which actually values success above relationship, ego above care, the market above society and tribal divisions over common humanity.


The question for each of us is: What can I do today and tomorrow to replace loneliness, division and distrust with relationship, community and purpose?


Weave is a community of people who are helping each other answer this question. We seek to learn from those who are weaving communities everywhere, establishing connection, building relationships, offering care and creating intimacy and trust. We want to spread the values they live out every day. We want to be part of a cultural revolution that replaces a culture of hyper-individualism with a culture of relationalism, a way of living that puts our connections with one another at the center of our lives. The revolution will be moral or it will not be at all.

To make this distinction more powerful, Brooks asks, "What will you be, a ripper or a Weaver?" He suggests that we all take a stand by making a choice and declaring ourselves to be "weavers of the social fabric."

As Lynne Twist says on page 184 of The Soul of Money:

“Taking a stand is a way of living and being that draws on a place within yourself that is at the very heart of who you are... When you take a stand, it gives you authenticity, power, and clarity. You find your place in the universe and you are able to move the world.”


Brooks asks that we make our own personal declaration of interdependence and choose to become weavers instead of rippers. And, he says that begins with the way we communicate with each other:

“Every time you assault and stereotype a person, you’ve ripped the social fabric. Every time you see that person deeply and make him or her feel known, you’ve woven it.”


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