(Exploring I/Thou, I/It, and I & I)
Philosopher Martin Buber’s famous distinction between the I/Thou and I/It relationships has long been a cornerstone of liberal theological thought. Briefly, Martin Buber postulated that we human beings enter into two sorts of relationships, I/It and I/Thou relationships.
For Buber, the I/It relationship is impersonal and objectifying. Individuals relate to others as objects to be analyzed, used, or categorized. This type of relationship lacks intimacy and presence. I hasten to add that this is the relationship that most people have to natural “things.”
By contrast, Buber imagines the I/Thou relationship as a deep, personal connection between individuals. In an I/Thou relationship, we engage with others as unique beings with their intrinsic value. The relationship is mutual, whole, and exists in the present moment.
So, from Buber’s perspective, the I/It relationship reflects a detached, utilitarian approach, while the I/Thou relationship represents ideal human connection.
The Rastafarian Concept of I & I
Now, let’s consider the Rastafarian concept of “I & I.” This idea insists upon a unified consciousness, transcending individual ego and encompassing a oneness with all existence. It’s a spiritual acknowledgment of the interconnectedness of the individual with the sacred and with all humanity.
Transcending Buber’s Concept
While Buber’s I/Thou emphasizes a deep connection between individuals, the Rastafarian I & I takes this a step further. It transcends the dualism inherent in Buber’s concept by asserting that all beings are part of one continuous web of existence. In this philosophy, the distinction between self and other dissolves, and all is part of a unified whole.
In essence, I & I goes beyond the mutuality of I/Thou to a more profound unity that erases boundaries and emphasizes interconnectedness. This is the way of the religious naturalist.
Yes, Martin Buber’s I/It and I/Thou distinction offers powerful insights into relationships. However, the Rastafarian concept of I & I adds another layer to this, transcending the individual to embrace a oneness with all.
These concepts challenge us to reflect on how we relate to others and the world around us. They encourage us to move beyond superficial connection and to seek a deeper, more expansive understanding of our place in the universe.
Whether embracing the intimacy of I/Thou or the unity of I & I, these ideas provide a pathway to a richer, more connected human experience. A “religion” of the earth itself.