Setting aside (for a moment) hope for a selective self, we return to the fundamental question: how do we address the deep and abiding challenges associated with a postmodern self that is threatened by saturation and minimization, and that can easily be overwhelmed by a world of complexity, unpredictability and turbulence? How does one relate authentically with other people who face similar challenges to self? I propose that the answer, at least in part, resides in the act of appreciation. This action involves an appreciation of self, an appreciation of the other person, and an appreciation of the remarkable relationship that has been established.
Martin Buber described this sense of intimate appreciation many years ago when he declared that our relationship with an object (“It”) is different from our relationship with someone (or perhaps something) that we truly appreciate (“Thou”). According to Buber, we all spend a great deal of time in our life interacting with objects and do so in a superficial manner:
Man travels over the surface of things and experiences them. He extracts knowledge about their constitution from them: he wins an experience from them. He experiences what belongs to the things. In our appreciation relationship with another person, however, we do not just glide over the surface: When Thou is spoken, the speaker has no thing for his object. For where there is a thing there is another thing. Every It is bounded by others; It exists only through being bounded by others. But when Thou is spoken, there is no thing. Thou has no bounds.