The I-Thou Relationship
In Martin Buber’s “philosophy of dialogue, a religious existentialism centered on the distinction between the I-Thou relationship and the I-It relationship,” there are two ways of being in relationship. The word “namaste,” with the intention “I bow to the God within you,” captures the I-Thou way of being in relationship.
The I-It Relationship
The I-It relationship reduces every relationship to utility. What can this person do for me is the question behind every consideration and observation. People are judged, evaluated, measured, compared and in a word, used. People who treat others like objects to manipulate are manipulators; they are users.
This I-It relationship:
… will only be
a relationship of convenience,
a relationship of advantage,
a relationship of attachment,
a relationship filled with fantasies and expectations that will fail in the face of a real life. (Marshall Vian Summers, Discernment in Relationships, February 13, 2009)
In the I-It way of being, people are “unable to really unite with another, to share their power with another, to yield sufficiently to another so that they can work together as a team. There are many people who never are able to move beyond this…. “ (Marshall Vian Summers. Interdependence, July 4, 2008)
From Relationships of Usefulness or Advantage to Relationships of Purpose
I gave my love a golden feather.
I gave my love a heart of stone.
When you find a golden feather,
It means you’ll never lose your way back home. —(Robbie Robertson & The Red Road Ensemble)
When you have been bestowed with a golden feather, it comes to signify the golden thread, the truth that runs like an electric current through all things but is not always felt.
Present-Day Interpretations of Buber’s “I and Thou”