Home Societal / Political Community The Wonder of Interpersonal Relationships V: Coherence

The Wonder of Interpersonal Relationships V: Coherence

117 min read

When I/Thou is in place, a psychological covenant is forged – not just a psychological contract. A I/Thou covenant points to a shared commitment that extends beyond the interests or even welfare of either party in an interpersonal relationship. A community or institution-based charter is created that helps to guide directions taken by a community and institutions operating in this community. The charter points to outcomes that go well beyond personal or institutional interests. Rocks, pebbles and sand are all acknowledged by those signing the charter. Their signature represents a commitment on their part to a larger sacred vision of coherence. It is a vision that provides guidance regarding the future of this community and/or this institution. It is when an institution, community (or entire nation) has a clear and compelling image of its own future that this institution, community (nation) is more likely to endure (Polak, 1973) – and interpersonal relationships are more likely to meaningful and enduring.


In alignment with De Tocqueville, Robert Bellah and his colleagues, I propose that there are two ingredients that are essential to building and sustaining interpersonal relationships and community of coherence. The first ingredient is a shared sense of spiritual unity and a transcendent set of sacred values and purposes. This ingredient is one that Bellah and his colleagues return to in recognition of the final and most important habit of the heart identified by De Tocqueville. This final habit is the abiding belief to be found in the community regarding human progress and a sense of greater purpose in life.

The second ingredient turns us to the wisdom offered by Paul Tillich (1948), a prominent theologian of the 20th Century. Tillich writes about the structure of grace in the shared history of a society. If we specifically introduce our focus on coherent interpersonal relationships and communities, this structure of grace could be considered the history embedded in the collective memory of a history. It is a history that includes not just the success of relationships and community, but also the failures and suffering inherent in relationships and the formation of community. We love and hurt another person at the same time. We are pulled to and pushed away from relationships and communities at the same time. We do good and we do harm—both are inevitable (Bergquist and Pomerantz, 2020).

Tillich believes that Grace only comes with the act of acceptance and reform. We are given the chance to do better in our relationships with other people and our collective actions within community. Grace allows us to enter the world of complex interpersonal relationships with both courage and hope. Grace allows Introverts to be less fearful about their relationships with other people and Extraverts to be more caring in their own interpersonal relationships.


Pages 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Load More Related Articles
Load More By William Bergquist
Load More In Community

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

Snuggling In: What Makes Us Comfortable When We Sleep?

What makes us feel comfortable when we snuggle in for a good night of sleep? …