Over the last weeks, I’ve invited commentary on several highly controversial topics. A few preliminary conclusions:
- Such conversations devolve into screaming after about three exchanges.
- Each side believes they are the ones being logical and reasonable.
- Each side thinks the others’ position makes the world more dangerous, or places them personally at greater risk.
- Each side’s position is rather oddly “bundled” with a variety of other political positions. In other words, the chances are very good that a person who believes “X” will also believe apparently unconnected “Y.”
There are others, but those are the largest ones, the things that crop up again and again across devisive, politicized issues.
My take on why it happens: fear. Fear shuts down the logic circuits, throws you in to the animal, mob-mentality, hyper-emotionalized tunnel-vision state. The answer is to look at that anger, and ask what is the reality-based fear beneath it. And then respectfully and compassionately, remember not that that COULD HAVE been you, but in all likelihood IS you in some arena where you have a blind spot…address that fear.
How do we do it? By addressing our individual manifestations of these issues. In other words: be the change you wish to see in the world. If you get caught up in the fear and anger, it is absurd to expect Washington to do any better.
But what to do? It’s a Gordian Knot, and I am most certainly not smart enough to unravel it alone.
But together…? Ah.
That is very, very different.
I think the solution is found in the “Mastermind” principle: the ability of two or more people to brainstorm a problem while in alignment. To put that another way, the answers will be found in the capacity of human beings to hammer out compromises and see each others’ humanity, striving together to build a better future. What will be necessary?
1)The people in the mastermind must feel safe enough not to be driven by fear. Anger is just how fear mobilizes itself. And most violence stems from anger (some is simple predation.)
2) They must love themselves enough to be non-co-dependent, and therefore freer of the need for approval.
3) They must extend their humanity to others. See others as being their equals, not play racist, homophobic, sexist or political “I rule you drool” schoolyard games.
4) Corrolary to #3: they must be mature, awake, adult human beings, or committed to being so.
5) They must have faith that humanity is capable of solving its problems, and that those solutions will arise from connection and communication between reasonable people.
6) They must be willing and capable of transmitting memes and interested in starting such conversations, based on the concepts of love, equality, and faith (again, not “faith” necessarily in the religious sense, but in the sense that they know there are answers that are beyond their individual capacities to discover. There is nothing more pessimistic than a smart person with no faith: they can see problems that others cannot see, but make the mistake of believing that if they cannot see answers, there must be none.)
7) they must be strong enough to exclude Smiling Monsters and sleeping children from the conversation. But wise enough to know that we need all races, political orientations, genders and faiths to be part of the conversation. But only the awake loving adults within these groups. Fortunately, this isn’t as difficult as some believe.
What is my answer?
GOALS X FAITH X ACTION X GRATITUDE = RESULTS.
Goal: to create 1000 awake, aware adult human beings: writers and teachers.
Faith: that we are as a species moving toward greater levels of complexity, as the universe has been since the Big Bang. We’re just dealing with bumps along the way. And that human beings are basically equal as groups, but that our fear and greed and egos obscure this.
Action: to use everything I’ve learned over the last sixty years to create a safe, powerful space for people to awaken, shed their fear, and evolve. The arenas of relationship, writing, and martial arts will be most powerful for me, for this, because I understand their language and map most fully.
Gratitude: for the clarity to see the way to cut the Gordion Knot. The beautiful realization: THERE ARE ANSWERS BEYOND MY MIND. All I have to do is establish the context, the space. The Group Mind will create the answers.
But only those who do not devolve to blaming, accusations of differential morality or capacity, anger or verbal violence can be allowed into the discussion. They must believe in our future, and know that we all have to find a way to live together on this planet.
I believe this strategy will work for a wide variety of “intractable” problems. The trick is that you must remember that there are not only honorable political/philosophical adversaries. There are also people so terrified that they cannot think through their own answers, will merely parrot the political line that allows them to be part of a protective tribe.
And even worse: there are smiling monsters. Ghouls who feed on the fear, and the corpses of the ethically or emotionally dead. People who feed the arguments, troll the emotions, and seek to disrupt harmony for its own sake. Predators. They cannot always be excluded, but by forcing them to BEGIN the discussion with an acceptance of human equality and love, their arguments to the contrary can be swiftly detected. If they are merely asleep, they can be nudged awake. But if they are only pretending to be human…?
That mask slips under pressure. And you can detect that even across social media.
If you are interested in being part of the future, part of the answer, join us for our LIFEWRITING discussion tomorrow. The answer starts with being happy, loving, healthy and strong. Having love, success, and health. Writers and teachers are my tribe, and I hope to serve you most directly, but all of good heart, anyone who hears what I’m saying, is welcome.
Join me tomorrow. Bring your concerns, things that stand between you and your dreams, that create pain and fear, that inhibit joy. Let’s work on them together, shall we?
Tomorrow, Saturday July 17th, 11am pst
Phone Number: (724) 444-7444
Call ID: 137903
One thousand awake, aware, loving, adult, storytellers and teachers.
We can do it.