Dragon's blog: Consider This...
In the months and decades to come I'll expand on themes in written and video format. Enter with care!
On this page and the archives, humor, pain, silliness, discovery, wisdom and learning will flow.
All core human values matter. Listen a bit deeper every day.
One world means problems can’t all be resolved only locally anymore. I believe most of our major problems as a world and as a species are now global. There are no physical frontiers where other people don’t already live. In a real sense there is no “escape”. Most of us individually and collectively (nations, tribes, political parties, religions or so called “races”) get caught in the trap of hoping to resolve issues at the local or personal level because it is the only thing we seem to have any direct power to influence so…we clean up our and own back yard but don’t pay attention to the leaking landfill all our ‘homes’ are built on…we buy filtered water and our streams, lakes and oceans are polluted, we make careful budgets to afford the basics of life and a few extremely wealthy or powerful families, nations, companies or groups steal and squander billions for selfish gain that hurts us all. All we have to do is look around to admit this is a painful part of the reality we share. We are quite literally in the same boat and most of us know that.
History is a great teacher. No one is “going” anywhere. Despite hundreds of thousand years of bloodshed, persecution, bigotry and endless forms of tribal-religious-national-philosophical-class-political-gender-race-generational…. “warfare” we now dominate the biosphere as a species. More and more people are coming to the inescapable conclusion that we cannot kill or lie our way out of our shared human problem. There are solutions that move us in a better direction, solutions which many people agree upon and yet we cannot implement. Some say the problem is “conflict”, but that seems to be an incomplete conclusion. Conflict, like collaboration is natural to our species and perhaps evolution itself. As I’ve stated before conflict cannot exist unless someone ‘cares’ about something…and ‘caring’ is what makes us human in the best sense. Conflict is not always bad. Conflict can be a tool for growth and creativity, but it can also waste valuable energy and resources if we use it selfishly to overpower one another. Those forms of conflict are ‘dead ends’…. they lead nowhere but to an endless recycling of abuse, destruction and waste. Mastering the art of conflict that includes and transcends our values and our history is a goal worth striving for and this way of seeing and engaging in conflict is one tool that can get us there. Core Values negotiation is not an escape from conflict it is a conscious and cooperative entering into conflict. It may mean that we each have to give up a little bit of false mental security about our ‘core truths’.
If you have read the material on the Corevaluesnegotiation.com website and taken the survey you may start to experience a bit of healthy doubt that I call ‘cognitive dissonance’. It is the sense that your personal story may not be as “complete” as you thought it was. That can be scary at first, but it can also be exhilarating if you keep listening to people who hold values you may have pushed aside while in a state of conflict. My advice…keep opening up to those doubts and talk with people who are different from you. Seek to understand those you do not yet understand until their story begins to make sense to you. Join a zoom call, fill out a survey or contact me and I’ll do my best to help you make sense of that which may not seem to make sense now. I have as much to learn as anyone. Together we can learn faster.
I received this from a friend and enjoyed it immensely. Sometimes art and humor can guide us to deep listening better than reason. If you've been following my work and blog for any length of time. Check this out:
The promise of Core Values as a process and behavior in your life is that it answers the promise of conflict and dialog. Curiosity is that path to listening and that means putting down the sword or big stick long enough to remind yourself that you may not actually be 'under attack'
Do you have a Hierarchy of Values?
Try a fun experiment and use it to better understand why you have conflicts with certain individuals or groups.
I have noticed an interesting patter over the last twenty years of helping people better understand and engage in, leave or resolve their conflicts. This rather obvious insight has been reported widely in academia, sociology, psychology and popular books more over the past few decades. The insight is that while we all share common human values, the way we prioritize those values differs from person to person.
Values themselves are not “wrong” or “bad” but it is clear that sometimes we mis-apply our values or push them onto others without bothering to understand that person’s or group’s values. Just like “emotions” (sad, mad, joy, fear and shame for simplicity) most people judge some values as better than others. Some people even have a hard time admitting to themselves that certain core human values are inherently good or even human until I give them examples that defeat what I call their “allergy”. That kind of behavior seldom leads to understanding and harms respect and civility.
Some people have a very negative view of patriotism (“love for or devotion to one’s country”) seeing it solely as being bad or any-humanitarian. To be sure Patriotism has had a negative history at times and been used to rally populations to do horrible things (Think Holocaust – Jewish, Armenian, Native American, Mongolian Kahns…) but the value is also been the driving force that allowed people to band together beyond the more excluding kin and tribal loyalty that preceded it. Do you think of “purity” as a ‘negative’ value? Then would you find a surgeon who was unconcerned with purity to be an acceptable option for you? The truth is any core value can be misapplied, abused or harmful in excess. Power ( the ability to do something or act in a particular way, especially as a faculty or quality) is another value that some people think of as ‘bad’ and yet without power literally nothing could be done at any scale. If you find some values on the list offensive, consider where you learned that and think of a few examples that represent positive use of them (Ghandi used power as did Christ and the Budddah!)
Try a simple and fun game with a friend or even a group of friends? Take the list of values posted on this website and copy them then order them from most to least valuable to ou. Do it quickly so you don’t have to think about it too much. Hand or send the same list to a friend (spouse, co-worker, family member) that you have frequent disagreements with and ask them to do the same with the list. When you are done with this compare your lists together. Rather than trying to ‘change’ how the other person holds certain values, ask them how they came to see certain the values as more or less important. You may find yourself in a very rich discussion of values…one that will influence your relationship for the better. Good luck and keep listening deeply….
Two ways to guarantee a multi-cultural insult. DON’T!
Imagine what it would be like if a fireman were not allowed to speak about his experience of fighting fires because we lived in a culture in which being a fireman was something feared, bad or something to be ashamed of… sound crazy?
How often have we witnessed a woman, [ an immigrant, a person of ANY ‘color’ that is not “normal” to the majority, a person with a ‘different sexual orientation’, the physically disabled, or from a minority political party or religion] prevented from voicing pain, a different perspective or concern about a situation. Think of the times when a sexist remark is told in a family, office or on the news and a woman makes a defensive remark…have you seen it result in silence, ridicule or private gossip later that day? On the other hand, how often have you seen a black person or a woman turned to and asked to speak for “What do women / black people think about …?” These seemingly innocent questions can even be intended with complete innocence (and ignorance) about how offensive they are.
To deny another person or group to speak to the various parts of their identity and their meaning and choices in life is the essence of acting with superiority over another. Those who seek to deny the full humanity of another person in a free society are rightly subject to the social burdens of such behavior….it is the way we train members of our society to learn the rules and value of fairness that we all share.
Fill in the blanks for the following question and imagine what it would be like if this question were directed at you:
Hey (your name)! Explain to the rest of us (in this group) why you and other members of your (race, religion, gender, orientation, ability…) do this or that stupid, harmful, mindless, embarrassing thing? If you think about that…do you feel that at some level you are being asked to justify your membership in that group?
Whether you are a woman, man, black, white, immigrant, LGBTQ?, older, younger, able-bodied, religious or not such a question is an insult. Demanding as opposed to asking someone to speak for their entire race, group or class will probably be taken affront to their humanity. This is a two way street…the majority group feels this offense too!
So what do we do to get to know one another in all our different roles? Simple…ASK! Ask if the person would be willing to give their more personal perspective on a group they are a member of. Be willing to take “No” or “not now” for an answer.
Two ways to guarantee an inter-cultural insult. Hint! DON’T!
Posting in two parts:
Do you sometimes feel as if you are ‘walking on eggshells’ in inter-cultural situations? Whether the discussion is about race, gender, ethnicity, religion, orientation, politics, physical ability, age .... these two easily avoided landmines could get you fired, investigated or personally attacked if you don’t watch out for them. This may be the best multi-cultural advice you ever get and what’s best about it is that it applies to everyone. It has saved me from a host of possible conflicts and taught me to respect others. Even more importantly it has helped me build friendships I never would made had otherwise with people VERY different from myself.
I don’t like the term “multi-cultural” anymore because “multi” just means “many”. It says’ nothing about the quality, closeness or value of the relationship. Intercultural competence, is the work we do to have better relationships with people from different cultures, economic class, races, religions, political beliefs, tribes, societies, political parties etc. If you think about it…this will be the work our children need to engage in if the world is going to continue to become more crowded, polluted and diverse. Living in a global world means relating to people who don't share our history, our assumptions about right and wrong or our habits of language and communication. I invite you to use the term “Inter-cultural” for that reason.
I have been involved in intercultural work since I was eight years old and my parents transplanted me into the middle of the world’s second largest city of Sao Paolo, Brazil. It wasn’t fun at the time but I learned more than I would have without that history under my belt.
Of the many lessons I have learned from being in conversation with people from different cultures and backgrounds one of the most powerful is the hurt that it causes when anyone is either forced or prevented from speaking about their identity in a particular group. In fact, the two best ways to guarantee that you will insult someone in a multi-cultural context is by either forcing them or preventing them from speaking about their identity.
The first landmine is: Don't force another person to become a speaker for their entire group. You can invite them or ask them to do this but if you act as if you have the right to foist this on them, you are very likely insulting them. Think about it a moment. Whether you are a cop, a soldier, a black person, a white person, a woman, a man, a Muslim, Christian, Jew, Republican, Democrat, Socialist….how do you feel if someone confronts you and demands you answer for the crimes or transgressions of someone else in your ‘group’? When someone asks you to speak for every member of your group you usually feel rightly defensive. Here is a simple alternative….ASK! Don’t tell another person what they mean or what their group stands for. Ask them if they are willing to explain something to you that you don’t understand. In short start with a bit of humility. They may say “no” and if you respect that then, there is a good chance that the next time you ask they will say ‘yes’.
This sounds complex, bit is isn’t. If you have any questions…give me call and I’ll walk you through the process. You may find that it opens up relationships you thought were lost.
What happens when we are in conflict?
If you think about it you'll notice that your entire identity becomes concerned with a single value. This is unusual because we typically walk through life with an open mind, balancing and considering priorities. When most people or groups are in conflict they stop questioning what is happening because they are "certain"!
Being Open to something new becomes difficult if not impossible when we are in the midst of a conflict. It's either win or lose! Live or Die! Succeed or Fail! Liberty or Death! Courage or Cowardice!....
For the most part what we believe “will” be true is what comes to pass and yet we are surrounded by people who have come to completely different conclusions about life and what matters. Isn’t that odd? “Not many of our responses are original, fresh, or naturally respectful of what is right in front of us. The most common human responses to a new moment are mistrust, cynicism, fear, defensiveness, dismissal, and judgmentalism. These are the common ways the ego tries to be in control of the data instead of allowing the moment to get some control over us—and teach us something new!” (Rohr 1/11/18). This is why I have the two requirements I do of anyone I work with….or frankly have any relationship with of substance – Emotional Authenticity and Intellectual Honesty (as I defined them in this website). Anyone with the will and commitment to these two things will find the rest of the process not only possible but fun and revealing of deeper truths. When you think about it, how fun can it be if you genuinely believe you know everything and have nothing to learn? In my experience people who approach life or other relationships this way tend to take others for granted, look down on them and are generally no fun to be with…I know I’m not when I’m like this. I don’t even like myself so much in those moments! So…give it a try. You don’t have to let go of what matters to you in order to become curious about someone else. If you are having a hard time, contact me or use the survey on my website to see if that uncovers something…it usually does even for me and I made it!
How do you disconnect from a sense of inferiority and superiority? Be honest with yourself a moment and consider how you behave when you are around people that you feel yourself to be inferior to (less accomplished, less intelligent, less compassionate, less...evolved?) How do you behave differently? Do you avoid them? Do you become silent? Do you become boastful and loud? Do you judge them openly while secretly admiring them? Do you try to serve them...brown nosing?
There is nothing particularly unusual about the thousands of ways we treat people we look up to. Our parents, friends, teachers and mentors may or may not have been good models for us but we adopted what we learned from them anyway. If possible find a good, trusted friend and share with them.
How did that feel?
Ready for the hard part? No?! OK...let's go!
How do you disconnect from a sense of superiority? How do you behave with people you see yourself as inferior to you? This may be painful to admit, but give it a try. Do you judge those people as stupid, incompetent, useless, heartless...worse? Do you cross your arms, tap your feet, roll your eyes, interrupt them, make no space for them to speak, do you call them names or do you walk away from them and disregard their calls, emails or comments? Yikes! Me too!
If possible try sharing this with an even more trusted friend or a coach who will keep your secret until it feels safe enough to share.
Thank you for having the courage to try this out. If this topic triggers something you feel you need to work on, I can help you get a better understanding of how defenses and core motivations help you re-connect with others.
See future topics below. If you see one you'd like me to expand on, send me a message.
Forcing or preventing others from speaking from roles they play in life?
What is the victim/perpetrator/rescuer dynamic? How does the Core Values process help you get off this triangle and activate your ability to perceive more clearly and care more completely?
The bane of the post-modern mind....the inner critic that won't "SHUT UP!!"
Post-modernism and the loss of sense of a humor?