None of us are smarter than all of us–if we work together

On the Lifewriting call Saturday, I laid out  a major piece of thought concerning the social issues upon which I’ve hosted conversation over the last weeks. The point of it was to determine how communication takes place within the Group Mind, so I could see where the breakdown was, and how it occurred.

And the most obvious thing that happened is that emotions immediately shut down logic. Logic became SECONDARY to emotion: facts existed to support the emotional positions people freeze into when afraid. Until the fear is dealt with, logic means little.

So I have to start with a few basics beliefs:

  3. The answers to humanity’s problems do not arise from individuals.  They arise from groups of people working in alignment.
  4. That the micro is in the macro, and vice versa–in other words, you will best understand social phenomena if you can detect the same emergent patterns in smaller groups and individual actions, especially if you can also see them in animal behaviors.
  5. Anger is a mask over fear.

So…if I begin with those assumptions, then if I take the position that every human or animal behavior is an attempt to move away from pain and toward pleasure, then the political turmoil we see is the social version of the conflicts individuals go through trying to make and achieve goals, or keep promises to themselves or others, or tell themselves the truth, or forgive and love themselves.

It should all be right there.

So the next question is: what is it that my favorite goal-setting techniques say about what you need to achieve goals:

  1. The end state must be clearly defined, and visualizable.
  2. Other goals must not be in conflict with the primary goal
  3. Your value hierarchies must support it.
  4. Your belief structures must support it
  5. You must have more pleasure than pain associated to its accomplishment
  6. The intervening steps must be broken down until you see what the daily actions would have to be to accomplish it.
  7. Those daily actions must have more pleasure than pain associated with their accomplishment.
  8. You must have the ability to take action despite the voices in your head.

And in watching the conversations that came up on any of these high-conflict subjects (guns, race, women’s rights, gay rights, global warming, Radical Islam, etc.)  There were two large groups:

  1. Those who could discuss the subject with respect for the other side.
  2. Those who quickly became angry and confrontational with the other side.
  3. Those who seemed not to understand that they were ACTING rational, but actually proceeding from an antagonistic perspective.  These functioned to corrupt and derail the conversation.  I suspect many times they were not aware they were doing this…but in other cases, I suspect they were deliberately trolling.  It may be impossible to determine which is which…but neither case is useful or productive, and must therefore be excluded from any useful conversation.

Why?  Because if you, as an individual, have a goal, then the “voices in your head” will include

  1. The parts of you that straight-up support your goals and actions.
  2. The parts that straight-up oppose your goals and actions
  3. The parts in secret conflict–they drag their heels without announcing their intentions, sabotage your efforts, distract and derail you and so forth.
  4. Needless to say, #1-#3 are also to be found in your immediate circle of friends and family.
  5. Needless to say, they can also be found in the larger circle of political discourse, and once you see it, you will grasp precisely why Washington is gridlocked.


So how to deal with these people?  While honoring them and respecting them, they CANNOT be allowed to slow down or derail the discussions. So…

I’m considering a rule for the brainstorming of our problems: you don’t get to bring up a problem more than three times without offering a solution. Or talk about a symptom more than three times without discussing the disease, or an effect without discussing the cause.

The point would be:

  1. To keep people out of negative thinking.  It is possible to focus totally on what is wrong, to the point that answers seem impossible.
  2. To force your mastermind group to define the problem in solvable terms.
  3. To determine if they are being honest.  If they are honest, they will look at both intrinsic and extrinsic aspects of the problem.  What is problematic with BOTH a position and its opponents, the in-group and the out-group.  The system of predator/prey, victim and victimizer.   If the person believes in human equality, then they must be able to see both positions.  (Think of it this way if you must: if you’ve going to catch a wolf, you have to think like a wolf).
  4.  If they don’t, or waffle when asked to define the external and internal factors affecting the behavior, you have a situation where either:
  1. They are asleep.  They WANT to believe in equality, but are fear-locked and  see only the problems on one side or the other.  They are hoping you can educate/convince them, or are unaware of how their surface observations and core beliefs are out of synch.
  2. They are “smiling monsters.”  They are in your conversation to subvert it, troll, and slow down/corrupt the information stream, then feed off the chaos that follows.

Again: it may not be possible to determine which are which. In fact, the “Core Transformations” technique suggests that ALL human behaviors, no matter how predatory, brutal, violent or abusive, are attempts to find our way back to a sense of peace and love.  It is amazing to experience that, but it has scary effective results if you work this idea, and I pay more attention to results than to any theory or logic you can offer.

So…maybe everyone is just asleep, to the degree that they cannot see this commonality of the human heart and soul.  I’m willing to operate from that point of view…so long as it doesn’t slow down the conversation.  That cannot be allowed. In individual human beings, that can be seen in foolishly clinging to the familiar, or fantasies about the past.  Or foolishly seeking change for its own sake, or to move toward some unproven, untested fantasy of the future.


On the social level, there are few GOALS that we all agree on.  But one ALMOST everyone can agree upon is

  1. Survival for us and our progeny.
  2. Move away from pain, toward pleasure.   All else seems secondary to these.

FAITH? That there are achievable goals. That connection and communication with our fellow human beings can devise answers, even if we cannot see them at the moment.   All of us are smarter than any of us.  That the basic nature of Man is to connect in levels of greater complexity, and move toward greater awareness.  That there are multiple ways to be an awake, aware, adult human being, multiple ways of seeing the universe. And that people who are not controlled by their fear can see this and embrace it more fully.

ACTION:   To stop blaming society for problems you yourself have not resolved.   WE are the problem.  “We do not see the world as it is. We see the world as we are.”   Want to change the world?   Be the change you wish to see, and understand yourself enough to understand the people you are trying to communicate with.   To do that, all you have to do is look at your simultaneous relationship to your body, your career, and your relationships.  If they are balanced, look at the people around you with compassion, and ask what you learned, what you do, what you feel and think that allows you to function in such a way, and have enough GRATITUDE for your blessings to extend your own humanity to others. But if not…ask yourself honestly what the belief, value or emotional conflicts have slammed on your brakes.   TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR RESULTS.  If you don’t: how DARE you expect others to take responsibility for theirs.  You little sleepy BRAT you.    Open your eyes. We’re all in this alone…together.

GRATITUDE:    If you are already ideally aligned, you are blessed, and living a blessing. All of the people I have met in this position already have open, loving hearts. They are not the problem.  If you are like the rest of us humans, flawed and fallen short of Glory, then give thanks for another day to strive, to love, to heal, to contribute to the world, to grow and experience joy.  Gratitude for the fact that you are not alone in your quest to help the human race evolve.

“Keep your mind shut powerfully against the voices in your head.”  Not because they are “bad” voices–most of them are just afraid.  The same thing is true of the Trolls and even Smiling Monsters.

But you cannot let them stop you.   So…what do you think of the possible new rules?

You don’t get to bring up a problem more than three times without offering a solution. Or talk about a symptom more than three times without discussing the disease, or an effect without discussing the cause.

I think these rules make it harder to say negative, asleep, or lie about what you really believe.  Your opinion?


Steven Barnes

www dot lifewritingweekly dot com




One comment

  1. Namaste :-). Excellent work Steven. I see all my heros in your writing …to name a few: Anthony de Mello, Echart Tolle, Byron Katie, Jose Silva, Napoleon Hill, Wayne Dyer, Steven Covey, and my good friend the tramp.
    Thank you.
    Peace, love and Blessings,


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