The Different Drum Book Club Review Chapters 1 & 2

Hello friends I’m Jamie Cawelti and every other Thursday this Winter I’m hosting a book club on The Different Drum on Community building and Peace by M. Scott Peck MD. You can join in the discussion by signing up at sex positive

When we meet we discuss a few chapters at a time, this video is about the introduction and first couple of chapters. I’m a fairly busy person and found that if I read a book in small chunks like this then I retained the information better and actually finish the books I attempt to read. Seriously, I used to read half of a book and generally abandon it when life got busy.

You can stay up to date on this book club and other offerings of mine on my social media either on facebook, or Instagram. Plus there’s a lot of good stuff on YouTube @Given Consent

Here’s my review of The Different Drum Review Chapters 1 & 2

Let’s start with the prologue which tells a little story called

“The Rabbi’s Gift” A decimated Monastery with aging monks in the woods, on track to be lost as the monks die from old age as no new people would join their order.

The local town’s rabbi would use a house in the woods on occasion and one of the monks decides to visit him and asks how to save his order, but the rabbi can only commiserate and replies “The spirit has gone out of the people. It is the same in my town. Almost no one has come to the synagogue anymore.” they weep together.

The monk acknowledges his failures and asks one more time for advice on how to save his order. The Rabbi replies “I have no advice to give. The only thing I can tell you is that the Messiah is one of you.”

When the monk returns to the Abbot he explains that the Rabbi couldn’t help but there was a cryptic message that the “messiah is one of us. I don’t know what he meant”.

The old monks pondered this, walking through each member of the order, perhaps their leader, or another among them who was very holy, or a thorn in your side - and what if it’s me?!

As they contemplated they began to treat each other with extraordinary respect because they now suspect one of them is the messiah. People would still occasionally visit the Monastery, and this aura of respect soon attracted them back and they’d invite friends. Within a few years it was thriving again all thanks to the Rabbi’s gift.

The religious tone of this story can be a hang up, and this book does have a lot of religious tones, and many of the communities Peck talks about are faith based. Many of us are not involved with faith based groups, and that’s part of what got me to pick-up this book. Peck is not explicitly speaking to religious people, he’s using those communities to model that community is not inherently religious, rather it’s human and we achieve it through mutual respect.


Peck states that it’s virtually impossible to describe community to someone meaningfully that has never experienced it - and asks have you experienced it? Most of us haven’t. So Peck tells his own set of stories on

Stumbling into Community

Community is a word that has become distorted, we may think of our hometowns, church, sex positive world, but are these communities? We sometimes mourn the good old days or some kind of dream community back when we relied on our neighbors for survival in harsh winter’s or farmers getting together to build each other's barns - but was that community back then, how would we know?

Peck quotes John Winthrop from 1630 “We must delight in each other, make others conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our community as members of the same body.” This suggests that there was a sense of community, but later in 1835 according to Democracy in America we developed a sense of “individualism” which will eventually fragment society causing isolation if not balanced with other habits.

Peck talks about his own childhood home, giving the example that anxiety, and worry were not mentioned and sadness seemed inherently feminine. The family seeing themselves as good American “rugged individualists” and expecting the same from him.

This made for an environment that was secure, but not safe to be yourself. Peck was diagnosed with hypertension, getting anxiety about being anxious and depression about being depressed. The way out was not through medication, rather the ability to learn to feel, embrace, and express the emotions that were unacceptable as a child.

Next he points to friendships, receiving many Christmas cards vs having intimate connection with those we call friends. This book predates social media, and that has only exacerbated the problem of surface level friendships that lack intimacy. Peck finds himself longing for that place, and that person with whom he could be totally open and honest. Thus stumbling into community the first time at

Friends Seminary 1952 - 1954

Peck describes going from a “no coddling” type school with no community, a big place with an “in” group to dropping out and going to Friends Seminary; a place that felt like coming home. Coming home is a feeling that I personally identify with community. This environment caused a full change from struggling to survive at school to being a thriving student. Some differences included softer boundaries with authority (like teasing with teachers), a lack of a dress code, there weren’t cliques, in fact the author recalls only being “himself”.

California 1967

Year 3 of Psychiatry training our author takes part in a group experiment on sleep with 12 participants. He quickly is at odds with another participant, accent and stinky cigars getting under his skin, but later finds empathy for him. Something achieved through softer “Ego boundaries” achieved through fatigue.

Peck shares this with the team, but later finds himself feeling depressed and at a loss. The team doesn’t share this feeling, and Peck starts to feel like the odd man out. They continue their work and their leader suggests that Scott is the voice of the group's depression. This confuses the team, and they suggest that Peck deal with it himself, and maybe drop out from the team early, leaving him even more isolated.

Their leader speaks up for the first time in 6 hours and points out that the tone of the group has completely changed, no laughter or smiling since suggesting that Peck is the group’s voice of depression. This starts everyone confessing their own sorrow, missing people or resenting the location. These confessions lead to a shift back to mirth and laughter, and also takes Peck from pariah to prophet. Prophets being those that bear bad news for society and a need for change.

These are good examples of “intensity”, the Quaker school being low intensity and the experiment high intensity.

Okinawa 1968-1969

Mythmaking seems to be a frequent characteristic of true community. During the Vietnam war there were limited options with the draft, and our author was in the psychology department with other students that were drafted. There was a shared feeling of being out of control of their lives, and personal failing in not being a good enough student to avoid the draft. They end up with a weekly meeting, and a legend of Albert. Illegitimate son of the mayor of fresno, who became the organizer of Local 89 of the homosexual shrimp fisherman’s union. The myths about Albert could fill a book, unfortunately not written down, and they tell truths about the human condition.

The author describes another community, years of being trained not to cry pillow aggression

Sensitivity group movement of the 60s and 70s

Chapter 2

Individuals and the Fallacy of Rugged Individualism

This chapter simply begins “I am lonely” with the reality that we all feel this to some degree, it’s inevitable because we are individuals.

Carl Jung gave us the concept that the goal of a person is individualism, defining yourself entirely intentionally as an individual. Many of us don’t get very far allowing our values to be dictated by parents, culture, or society. There needs to be a shift from laziness, of going with the crowd, or stereotyping - and stepping into personal power. Learning to take responsibility for choices and actions, autonomy and self-determination - but that’s not the whole story.

We can not sustain ourself alone, you can’t be the farmer, lawyer, stockbroker, politician, therapist, surgeon etc - all the things rolled into one. Plus we have a desire for community and company beyond our physical dependency on each other.

This is actually core and important to community - one person may be unstructured and play oriented and another scheduled and diligent. They both have strengths and weaknesses that ultimately help each other.

Peck suggests that we need to develop “soft individualism” as opposed to rugged, we cannot be truly ourselves until we are able to share freely the things we most have in common: our weakness, our incompleteness, our imperfection, our inadequacy, our sins, our lack of wholeness and self-sufficiency.

And that is the end of chapter 2, I have to say that I generally agree with Peck. I have found community within youth groups as a church going teenager, and today in Sex Positive World, particularly with my book club. This is the 5th book the club has read throughout the pandemic, and through exploring non-fiction we have had opportunities to misunderstand each other, and resolve differences, or see it from someone else's point of view. We have also shared personal traumas, tears, laughter, work of the heart, and more. It’s hard to describe that kind of connection to someone that’s never felt it, and I empathize with Peck’s difficulty in nailing down an exact definition and instead telling stories about the communities he found.

Join me in a couple weeks to hear about chapters 3-5

The True Meaning of Community

The Genesis of Community

Stages of Community-Making

If you’re interested in joining the bookclub on zoom visit - you can find more content like this on my YouTube, FB, and IG and if you want to support my work consider joining my patreon.

Thanks for watching, love you more

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