Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Instrumental vs. Expressive Actions

from Parker Palmer's The Active Life:

"The instrumental image, which dominates Western culture, portrays
action as a means to predetermined ends, as an instrument or tool of our
intentions. The only possible measure of such action is whether it achieves
the ends at which it is aimed. Instrumental action is governed by the logic
of success and failure; it discourages us from risk-taking because it values
success over learning, and it abhors failure whether we learn from it or
not... Only when we act expressively do we move toward full aliveness
and authentic power. An expressive act is one that I take not to achieve a
goal outside myself but to express a conviction, a leading, a truth that is
within me. An expressive act is often taken because if I did not take it I
would be denying my own insight, gift, nature. By taking an expressive
act, an act not obsessed with outcomes, I come closer to making the
contribution that is mine to make in the scheme of things."

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