- Until you have become really, in actual fact, a brother to every one, brotherhood will not come to pass. No sort of scientific teaching, no kind of common interest, will ever teach men to share property and privileges with equal consideration for all. Every one will think his share too small and they will be always envying, complaining and attacking one another. [Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov (1879), Part I, Book VI, Chapter 2, “The Duel”.]
When people band together in community, and fellowship is present, the community becomes not merely a source of sustenance and protection but a source of love and joy. How broad is our reach for fellowship? Can we extend it to the entire human community?
Technical and Analytical Readings
The idea of emotional intelligence has generated a vast body of scholarly research and popular literature. EI is not limited to interpersonal relationships but that is the area in which it has received the most attention, so I present it here.
Interpersonal (social) intelligence is the ability to build relationships and navigate social environments. Its components include verbal fluency and conversational skills; knowledge of social roles; rules and scripts; effective listening skills; understanding how people operate; role-playing and self-efficacy; and impression management skills.
Social intelligence has implications for psychological well-being, networking, popularity in adolescents, mimicking behaviors, loneliness in the workplace, and social anxiety. It protects youth from psychological harm from peer victimization, helps people respond to our environments, and “improves collective action in a common pool resource system”. It plays a role in cognitive evolution, and language evolution specifically. “(Y)ou need to be smart to sustain culture”.
Studies have focused on facial expressions, cerebral voice and face processing, alliance formation, deception, “Leadership and Emotional Intelligence in Teachers”, clergy, the importance of social intelligence in physical therapists, physicians and medical interns, cultural intelligence and social compatibility in dormitories, and the role of interactions with people outside our immediate groups. Theory-of-mind models have been developed to assess behavior in others. Gender-based differences in social intelligence have been identified, related to aggression and pro-social behaviors. The social mind changes as we age.
Research suggests that development of social intelligence begins in infancy, and that social intelligence can be taught. This has important implications for the problem of crime. Agenesis of the corpus callosum appears to result in social processing deficits. Reasoning about social exchange appears to suffer from damage to the limbic system. The role of social media on social intelligence is under study.
Emotional intelligence – a subject of a vast body of research and scholarship – is “a type of social intelligence”, and is related to but differs from general intelligence. Emotional intelligence “deals with the effective integration of emotion and cognition, that is, with the intelligent use of emotions and the use of emotions to improve thought processes.” It has profound implications on the quality of life, including the facilitation of transition to adolescence. It is associated, whether positively or negatively, with job satisfaction, managerial performance, source memory, cardiac vagal control and reactivity, and coronary heart disease. Emotional competence is an antecedent to performance, via emotional honesty, self-confidence and emotional resilience.
Reuven Bar-On has developed a model of emotional intelligence. The model has ten key components: “Self-Regard, Interpersonal Relationships, Impulse Control, Problem-Solving, Emotional Self-Awareness, Flexibility, Reality-Testing, Stress Tolerance, Assertiveness, and Empathy”; and five facilitators: “Optimism, Self-Actualization, Happiness, Independence, and Social Responsibility.” I will explore each of these components and facilitators as they come up throughout this work.
Trait emotional intelligence is “a constellation of correlated emotion-related traits that capture an individual's typical way of processing emotion-related information and reacting in emotional situations”. It is associated with sociability, self-control and emotionality. Several networks of the brain are implicated in its processing. High trait emotional intelligence enhances well-being, improves adolescent well-being and post-secondary academic performance, facilitates career decision-making, helps victims of intimate partner violence cope, aids students in predicting their classroom performance, and predicts “Adaptive Reponses to Positive and Negative Affect During Adolescence”. Low trait emotional intelligence tends toward psychopathy, grandiose narcissism, obesity, and drug addiction and associated life problems. Trait EI is testable.
Ability emotional intelligence, or cognitive-emotional ability, is the present ability to perceive, understand and regulate emotions, and to integrate them into life. Of course, it is related to trait emotional intelligence. Together, they are germane to alcoholism. Ability emotional intelligence facilitates working memory during hot tasks. It predicts criminal behavior. Head teachers score high in ability emotional intelligence. Like trait emotional intelligence, it is measurable (see also here).
Emotional intelligence is important in medical education, nursing, nursing team performance and cohesiveness, nurse education (see also here), conflict management, stress coping, job stress coping, and anxiety coping. It is conducive to happiness, career success, sexual function, family functioning, a relative absence of neuroticism, and emotional well-being; and is positively associated with sexual satisfaction and empathy.
Emotional intelligence has been correlated to “Big-Five Personality Factors”.. It appears to enhance both fluid and crystallized abilities. It buffers against bullying, cyber violence, domestic violence, adolescent substance abuse, chronic fatigue, teacher burnout, Internet gaming disorder, indirect self-destructiveness, and suicidal behavior; and mediates the effects of autonomic functions during psychotherapy.
Emotional intelligence can be enhanced through education and training, such as with physical activity and sport, online training, and the Dharma Life Program. This is true in primary education, secondary education, and in business. This has important implications for public policy. Strategies have been developed for preventing burnout among teachers in communities affected by HIV/AIDS.
Social intelligence relies on a system of “complex interdependencies” in the brain. Skill in understanding minds appears to be an independent cognitive domain, not merely a function of general intelligence. The brain’s right hemisphere appears to play a more significant role in social intelligence than the left. The neocortex appears to play a significant role in females only. The posterior superior temporal sulcus is implicated in temporal EI, and the left insula is implicated in ability EI. The socio-affective and socio-cognitive brain networks are structurally plastic. “Damage to the orbital part of frontal lobes may result in a disorder of self-disclosure monitoring and impairment of social intelligence . . .” Autism appears to be related to deficiencies in amygdala functioning. Individual differences in the superior parietal lobule account for significant variations in emotional intelligence, from person to person.
- Thich Nhat Hanh, One Buddha Is Not Enough: A Story of Collective Awakening (Parallax Press, 2011).
- Mario Vargas Llosa, Notes on the Death of Culture: Essays on Spectacle and Society (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2015): “ . . . Vargas Llosa’s cranky, hasty manifesto is made of the very stuff it criticizes: journalism.”
- Raghuram Rajan, The Third Pillar: How Markets and the State Leave the Community Behind (Penguin Press, 2019): “What begins as an incisive critique of how economists and policymakers abandoned community ends as a dismaying illustration of the problem.”
- Donovan Brown, The Social Sex: A History of Female Friendship (Harper Perennial, 2015): “Friendship is a bond that is uniquely defined by the people who exist within it. Unlike relationships such as marriage or parenthood, which have clear timelines and boundaries, friendships have no ceremonial beginning or end, no biological definition. They are not sanctioned by any church, nor recognized officially by any state. This is perhaps why women, historically diminished by the government and burdened by the family, find such fulfillment and power among friends.”
- Edward Glaeser and David Cutler, Survival of the City: Living and Thriving in an Age of Isolation (Penguin Press, 2021): “Coronavirus transformed the rhythm and diversity of street life so cherished by urbanists like Jane Jacobs into something else entirely: social distancing that turned neighbors into strangers, wealthy avenue blocks hollowed out by the flight to second homes in rural areas and commercial districts devoid of office workers. Any notion of the city as a democratizing force fell apart almost overnight, as the shift to remote work segregated — and protected — those who could work at home from those essential workers who could not.”
- Christie Tate, Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life (Avid Reader, 2020): “Tate is first in her law school class, an accomplishment that only sinks her further into despair. She imagines an empty future defined by billable hours, a legal career as 'culturally approved-of beard for my dismal personal life.'”
- Wassily Kandinsky, Couple Riding (1906)
- Charles Angrand, Couple in the Street(1887)
- Pierre-Auguste Renoir, The Mosque (Arab Holiday) (1881)
- Eugene Delacroix, The Women of Algiers in their Apartment (1834)
- Adriaen van Ostade, A Talk at Fireplace (c. 1640)
- Dirick Hals, Merry Company in a Tavern
- Dirick Hals, Musicale (1623)
Music: songs and other short pieces
- The Beatles, All Together Now
- Joe Cocker, With a Little Help from My Friends
- Down to the Bone, Cooking With Gas
- Boyer, Festivities (2011)
Men unite themselves and dwell in communities. By virtue of what right? By virtue of the right of association. They shut themselves up at home. By virtue of what right? By virtue of the right which every man has to open or shut his door. They do not come forth. By virtue of what right? By virtue of the right to go and come, which implies the right to remain at home. There, at home, what do they do? They speak in low tones; they drop their eyes; they toil. They renounce the world, towns, sensualities, pleasures, vanities, pride, interests. They are clothed in coarse woollen or coarse linen. Not one of them possesses in his own right anything whatever. On entering there, each one who was rich makes himself poor. What he has, he gives to all. He who was what is called noble, a gentleman and a lord, is the equal of him who was a peasant. The cell is identical for all. All undergo the same tonsure, wear the same frock, eat the same black bread, sleep on the same straw, die on the same ashes. The same sack on their backs, the same rope around their loins. If the decision has been to go barefoot, all go barefoot. There may be a prince among them; that prince is the same shadow as the rest. No titles. Even family names have disappeared. They bear only first names. All are bowed beneath the equality of baptismal names. They have dissolved the carnal family, and constituted in their community a spiritual family. They have no other relatives than all men. They succor the poor, they care for the sick. They elect those whom they obey. They call each other "my brother." [Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (1862), Volume II – Cosette; Book Seventh – Parenthesis, Chapter IV, The Convent from the Point of View of Principles.]
- Graham Joyce, The Silent Land: A Novel (Doubleday, 2011)): in this fantasy novel, the author uses death as an experience and a metaphor for isolation, and then has the protagonists “gradually mature into their better characters . . .”
- Kevin Wilson, Perfect Little World: A Novel (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2017): “It’s a novel you keep reading for old-fashioned reasons — because it’s a good story, and you need to know what happens. But you also keep reading because you want to know what a good family is. Everyone wants to know that.”
- Maurice Carlos Ruffin, The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You: Stories (One World, 2021): “Ruffin’s characters are too smart to fall blindly for sweet nothings; their lives and the New Orleans around them are governed by the ruthless logic of a system that doesn’t even pretend to care about them.”
From the dark or shadow side:
- Alexis Schaitkin, Saint X: A Novel (Celdadon, 2020): “Murder and White Privilege on a Family Holiday in the Caribbean”.
- Ash Davidson, Damnation Spring: A Novel (Scribner, 2021) “gets at a logging community’s deep roots”.
Film and Stage
- Red, “an intricate story of friendship and deliverance”
- The Defiant Ones, illustrating how necessity can engender community, the story is an allegory for the necessity of community in an interdependent world
- Which matters more: the community or the individual? This was the question at the core of the romantic dramaCasablanca. In the end, the cad sacrifices what he wants most for peace and justice. To Have and Have Not pairs Bogart with Bacall in a similarly plotted film based on a Hemingway novel
- One Foot In Heaven, about a dour priest drawn into the communal spirit
- The Warriors, on urban tribalism
Music: Composers, artists, and major works
Community is a key part of humankind’s answer to suffering. British folk music group The Longest Johns sings of everyday life and struggle, with often dry humor, and nearly always in close harmony. “Hard Times Come Again No More”, the first track on their “Smoke & Oakum” album, expresses the idea in a compelling way, if you watch the video as you listen.
- “Smoke & Oakum”
- “Land Shanties”
- “Cure What Ails Ya”
- “Between Wind and Water”
- “Written in Salt”
- “Bones In The Ocean”
The baryton is a stringed instrument, roughly the size of the double bass, with six strings for bowing and nine strings beneath the bowing strings, for plucking. When sounds are produced on the bowed strings, they produce sympathetic sound on the plucked strings. Haydn composed 126 baryton trios, for baryton and cello. Playing Haydn’s gentle compositions in the lower to middle registers, these three instruments produce a collective effect evoking fellowship. Here is the Esterházy Ensemble performing the complete trios, and other Haydn compositions for baryton: Hob. XI:1-31; XI:32-59; XI:60-87; XI:88-117; XI:118-126.
Schubert, String Quartets:
Haydn, String Quartets, Op. 33 (“Russian” quartets, 1781)
- Quartet No. 29 in G major, (“How Do You Do?”), 33, No. 5, FHE No. 74, Hoboken No. III:41
- Quartet No. 30 in E♭ major (“The Joke”), 33, No. 2, FHE No. 71, Hoboken No. III:38
- Quartet No. 31 in B minor, 33, No. 1, FHE No. 70, Hoboken No. III:37
- Quartet No. 32 in C major ("The Bird"), 33, No. 3, FHE No. 72, Hoboken No. III:39
- Quartet No. 33 in D major, Op. 33, No. 6, FHE No. 75, Hoboken No. III:42
- Quartet No. 34 in B♭ major, Op. 33, No. 4, FHE No. 73, Hoboken No. III:40
Haydn, String Quartets, Op. 71: (“Aponyi” quartets, set 1, 1793)
- Quartet No. 54 in B♭ major, Op. 71, No. 1, FHE No. 37, Hoboken No. III:69
- Quartet No. 55 in D major, Op. 71, No. 2, FHE No. 38, Hoboken No. III:70
- Quartet No. 56 in E♭ major, Op. 71, No. 3, FHE No. 39, Hoboken No. III:71
A warm, loving and ebullient spirit of community characterizes Anton Arensky’s chamber works:
- String Quartet No. 1, Op. 11 (1888)
- String Quartet No. 2 in A Minor, Op. 35 (1894)
- Piano Trio No. 1 in D Minor, Op. 32 (1892)
- Piano Trio No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 73 (1905)
- Mozart, Piano Concerto 9 in E flat major, K. 271, “Jeunehomme”
- Krommer, Octet Partitas for Winds
- Appleton, Concerto Grosso for Violin, Piano, Cello & Strings (2008)
- Schumann, Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47 (1842)
- Alfvén, Choral songs
- Ferroud, Foules (Crowds): this work takes us from the individual to the crowd.
- Burgmüller, String Quartet No. 3 in A-flat Major, Op. 9 (1826)
- Herbert, String Serenade in F Major, Op. 12 (1884)
Albums and tracks:
- Buena Vista Social Club came together in 1996 to record Cuban music. Check out its “25 Anniversario” compilation.
- Johnny Coles (with Horace Parlan, Reggie Johnson & Billy Hart), “New Morning”: this mellow jazz quartet, led by flugelhornist Coles perfectly expresses the idea of fellowship in music
- Arthur Blythe, “Lenox Avenue Breakdown”
- Ivo Perelman & Matthew Shipp, “Amalgam”
- Kyungso Park, “Be My Neighbor”
- Master Oogway with Henriette Eilertsen, “Happy Village”: community in music during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Warsaw Village Band, “People’s Spring” (Wiosna Ludu): “. . . we here spirited music played in a way that it was meant to be played — with not only great talent but with absolute gusto.”
Small, busy flames play through the fresh laid coals,
And their faint cracklings o'er our silence creep
Like whispers of the household gods that keep
A gentle empire o'er fraternal souls.
And while, for rhymes, I search around the poles,
Your eyes are fix d, as in poetic sleep,
Upon the lore so voluble and deep,
That aye at fall of night our care condoles.
This is your birth-day Tom, and I rejoice
That thus it passes smoothly, quietly.
Many such eves of gently whisp'ring noise
May we together pass, and calmly try
What are this world s true joys, ere the great voice,
From its fair face, shall bid our spirits fly.
[John Keats, Sonnet VIII. “To My Brothers”]
Books of poems:
- Tracy K. Smith, Such Color: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf, 2021): “A poet of formal breadth and consistent excellence, Smith has long questioned American individualism . . .”