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We humans are locked in an ever growing battle of emotion vs. logic, of instinct vs. calculation. One exacerbated, manipulated and stretched as we work to understand our world’s intricacies and harness technology beyond our means. This battle has many layers: the one within ourselves, another within our communities, and a layer that includes our entire globe.
Nowhere on this planet is this battle currently more stark than within the United States of America. Here, the battle has been portrayed as one where either side wants to win at all cost and banish the “other”. For decades this war has been building, more than likely longer than we all would like to think (or agree) that it has been in existence. This battle has grown to consume every aspect of our lives, nowhere is safe, and it presents in many forms: racially, educationally, politically, etc. Even those who live far from population centers have been forced to choose sides; even those who stood in the “middle ground” for many years are now painted with their team colors, often against their will. This battle can break us, and it’s already happening, but there is a way to stop it.
First, it must be said – We did this to ourselves; no outsider pushed us to these limits. After so many decades of slicing and dicing the populace, pitting us all against each other for multiple reasons, our country has become an environment of confusion and anger where only the zealots feel confident in their ideas. Zealots who work to pick us off one by one to choose our destiny. To date, anyone who has tried to fix it has done little but fail or incite us more. This constant incitement has caused our populace to grown tired, worried and frustrated; a group desperately in need of mediation, but so raw with their hatred of the “other” (no matter how it is defined) that it seems only war can exhaust them into a truce. But even war will not fix this situation. War would produce a winner, maybe, but with neither side mature enough to create a vision that would bring us peace it would all be for not. Either side, should they win, would only enact more pain on the whole.
Interestingly enough, both sides feel they are the one fighting for “good”. They believe they are activists for their constituents, their brethren, bringing awareness to the plights their population is facing. Both sides believe they know best, yet constantly fall victim to “confirmation bias“. Leaders on each side believe they are fighting for a better life, but in truth, they are fighting for their “way of thought”. More precisely, they are fighting the age old argument of emotion vs. logic, but few even know this is so.
Today, there seems to be only two acceptable ways to deal with emotions in America: one is to allow them to rule you, to succumb to their whims and bleed them everywhere you go; the other is to put them into little structured boxes and feel them as appropriate when appropriate and never a stray one allowed.
Neither of the proposed outcomes are conducive to our well being or longevity as a nation or as a people, but many people will believe that either is the only way to survive. At the end of this explanation I will make sure to share some actual solutions to this problem, but first, lets start out by examining each of these tribes and their outlook on life.
The “Salt of the Earth” Tribe
People from this tribe have their feet planted firmly on the ground. They tend to prefer lots of open space, most of the time have an affinity for nature, and work to keep a connection to Mother Earth. SotE people don’t dislike technology but really only prefer enough of it to add a thin layer of help to their lives. Working with the Earth in multiple ways (ex. getting their hands dirty for pleasure or as a profession) is preferred to sitting at a computer. Intuition is strong within this tribe and they tend to allow their emotions to sit at the surface of their skin. Emotional Intelligence training comes from the rest of their group, interconnectivity helps them to learn “how to act”. Limited structure is necessary to assist this group in honing their emotional intelligence, too much structure stifles their creative nature. Education is looked at in two ways:
SotE people like to gain fulfillment by excelling in the basics – solid home, good family, strong community ties, providing their strengths to help the group succeed, etc. They take pride in what they have created and how well they have succeeded in creating a happy community and family. SotE people do not expect life to be easy, but instead see their path full of little challenges that are worth the struggle due to the lessons they will learn about life. Time moves too quickly for this group and change can be difficult. Change is difficult for a SotE member because of the need to constantly “regression test” their creations (i.e. their lives and communities) to ensure stability. Loyalty grows with each interaction and takes repetition and time. This can be off-putting to both “outsiders” and members that do not easily fit in the tribe’s way of life and often those who confuse the SotE feel slighted or ostracized, leaving before a new comfort zone can be created. This group will be wary in the beginning, but once proven trustworthy their loyalty is unmatched and they become great advocates on your side through thick and thin.
The Salt of the Earth tribe has been manipulated by cunning members (or non-members) who want to create a “left-behind” mentality or those who tell them something is missing. Their emotions are easy to rise and exacerbate and when they feel they are missing out they grow resentful. Guilt is easy to come by in the SotE tribe and nothing pressures them more than their children wanting more than they can provide, especially when comparing themselves to the Air and Sky tribe. They often do not feel many of the excess luxuries of life are necessary, but when the world tells them they are “wrong” or “backwards” for those beliefs the embarrassment creates the anger we see today.
This group now believes that they are being asked to give up their way of life and that no one really understands them. Their feelings are hurt because the Air and Sky people tend to disregard things they cherish, paint them as “black and white”, and see their connection to emotions as “childish”.
The Air and Sky Tribe
This group loves to push limits, to constantly strive for change and looks to technology as an answer to solutions as well as the means to most ends. Where the SotE people look to the past for answers, this group is future bound. They trust scientific discovery, facts, and figures over intuition and often see emotions as a hindrance to achieving their goals. Constantly progressive, never settling for the “now”, they live for the future and are excited for it to happen. Belief in education is strong, and certifications, degrees and letters after one’s name are extremely important to be allowed in the upper echelons of the clan. They believe that we are here to understand the Universe, not only to understand it but to conquer it and rule over it (with a generous hand, of course). Those who thrive in this society have a high intellect, the ability to dampen their emotions, and a desire to discuss endlessly the deep ideas of the universe. They are great advocates when you convince them of your cause (with a lot of facts!) and often have the connections and drive to take any idea to the top. Family is important, but at times as a means to an end, and chosen family (or brother/sisterhood) is often more important than blood relations. Emotional intelligence is learned from books, calculated to achieve a goal and used to control one’s relationships. Commitment is less solid here, as there is always something else to try, another goal to achieve another thing we COULD do. Time never stops and that works for this group because the present can get boring and stale.
This group has been manipulated by those weakening boundaries and allowing an “anything goes” environment. Bringing unlimited options, distractions, and possibilities this forward-thinking group continues to push all limits trying to find the end of any given path. This is great for those who crave to be at the top, with the most resources, even at the expense of achieving goals that could be destructive to humanity. Manipulators come in the form of people who push the envelope and snub them when they haven’t done everything they COULD whether or not they should.
The Air and Sky tribe believes that due to their achievements and intelligence they should be able to dictate and rule others who are “less evolved”. Pandora’s Box is always opened with little regard of whether or not it may be beneficial. They believe in structure and rules that inform every citizen of how to act and what to do, and because logical people created this structure it must be the most logical setup possible. There is no going back, only moving forward. Air and Sky people’s feelings are are hurt because they do not understand why those less fortunate, those that they fight for, are often still not happy with their solutions. If the dots connect, and the plans make sense and seem fair, why can’t people submit to their ways and just be happy.
So you can see what a mess we have. Two sides that see the world completely different pushed to the extremes by manipulation further exacerbating their differences and driving a wedge between them that may become too difficult to bridge. HOWEVER, towards the beginning I promised some hope to help us move forward and this I will share with you now.
At this point, there may be some of you out there who are confused or even frustrated after reading this analysis because you were neither a full member of the Salt of the Earth tribe or the Air and Sky tribe. You may be thinking ‘I don’t fit fully in either of these groups; this lady must be insane’. If so, I congratulate you because you are already on the way towards helping to solve this problem. Our minds have the ability to hold both of these groups inside at once, but as we are born with a natural capacity towards one or the other we need to activate the will to balance the two.
In order to bridge the gaps between these two tribes, we first must decide that both sides are necessary. We need to find the positive in each of these ways of thinking. Accept that each has relevance, and each is a bit nuts at times. Neither are better than the other; both have merit and are necessary for a well-balanced relationship with our world, with each other and within. Only then will we grow curious about the other. Only then will we reach out to understand and by understanding create growth within our own souls. Like Yin and Yang, both are necessary to experience the whole of life, each one loving the other in order to fully understand and thrive.
It takes a bit (or a lot) of humility to move in this direction and humility only comes when one feels safe. In order to feel safe and be able to show vulnerability we must have trust. Trust only comes from believing that the “other” has both side’s best interests at heart or at least in believing that this is possible. Doing this work takes bravery. Please be brave enough to stand with me and take the first step. Seek out others who belong to the tribe that scares you the most. Ask “why?” and then absorb. Work to open the other side of your mind, let it make you feel uncomfortable and question what you feel. See the wool pulled over our eyes, the distractions and manipulations that divide. Reject them often. Become the first stone to roll down the hill. Pave the way for others. It’s worth it, I promise.
©Maven Source International 2021 – All Rights Reserved
Ignoring culture is why we have failed multiple times overseas
(Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan….).
Ignoring culture is why our race relations are poor,
the reason there is a class divide, and why we just cannot seem to get along.
Why we have lost our way and why we are disconnected from one another.
Culture provides a template for our lives and these templates are very different depending on where one’s ancestors are from; formed in different environments at different periods of history and with different goals.
We talk about culture a lot today, but often the lines are blurred and many times we fail to understand the depths of the concept. For many, culture is difficult to differentiate from one’s identity and we often conflate the two ideas.
Identity is a singular term made up of multiple layers that include a person’s nature, nurture, behavior, outlook, beliefs, values and motivations. Culture is the sharing and overlapping of multiple identities to provide a template of what is expected and accepted within a group.
Culture becomes an agreement; a creation of a “social contract” within which people create comfort zones. It is the foundation from which individual identity is created, regardless if the outcome is one of confirmation or deviation.
Culture is a layered concept consisting of two levels:
When many cultures interact within the same environment we get “Intercultural Relations” and many times the initial meetings are not pretty. Intercultural relations cause friction, confusion and change: concepts many humans run from on a regular basis. We need assistance to bridge these divides because when multiple cultures interact we are dealing with different ways of thought; so deeply seeded within our minds that it is difficult to fully grasp unless face to face with the experience.
In our current day, we are growing quite familiar with the ability for people to see the same facts, ideas and/or concepts and come up with different outcomes and perspectives.
Often the differences arise from humans ability to turn off intuition and use our frontal cortex to put connections together. This power of ours allows for different ideas, concepts and viewpoints even when the information coming in is the same.
The more in common we have with each other, such as speaking the same language, can actually confuse the situation and can lead to a deeper level of frustration as we cannot understand why we cannot understand each other. This leads to a breakdown within the group and a separation within a community, or to put it plainly: our current environment.
It takes motivation, patience and consideration to “code-switch” enough in order to understand someone on the opposite end of the spectrum, and motivation, patience and consideration are in short order in today’s world. This is one of the reasons we have so much turmoil, frustration and pain in our society.
My partner and I experienced this throughout our decade-long courtship. We belong to an intercultural, inter-ethnic, interracial, and intersexual relationship, and that is only on the surface: I am an introvert, he is extroverted, I am sensitive, little bothers him, I like sweet he likes spicy… you get the picture. Today, I look at all of these differences with a lot of love because we have figured out the way to make all of this work. At its core, our relationship is based upon a love of anthropology, a desire to understand the human experience throughout history and at its depths, plus a huge dose of chemistry, respect and understanding…and, it doesn’t hurt that he is pretty hot.
Hot or not however, he is difficult to handle (as am I at times) and the amount of disagreements we have had over the years could fill Lake Superior. Thankfully, we were able to analyze these disagreements as we gained comfortability with each other (and because we matured!) and got to the point where we were able to easily compare, contrast and dissect all of these different attributes that made up both our identities and our cultures. This allowed us to fully live the experience of being with someone who thinks so differently and learn from it at the same time. We went to battle over everything: politics, religion, every aspect of American society, and even the importance of the yin skills like empathy and emotional intelligence (I won those battles at least, but it took a long time).
We discussed the merits and disadvantages of passive-aggressive or overt communication; how time, risk management, and expectations influenced us in our upbringing. We approached problems differently, and often disagreed on how to best use our strengths to build our life.
He looks at things from a stance of power, I work through problems from a more strategic position. He looks at the world as a place ripe for the taking, I strive to make the environment pleasant for all. Neither is better, but both are important and a blending of the two is powerful. We both started from our singular point of view, but learned the majesty in each other’s viewpoints and approaches.
This work allowed us to trust each other, and to fully combine to create our own unique culture. Very few barriers now exist, which makes us able to kid, be frank and even piss each other off because we are tied together by what we have created together. It belongs to both of us.
It is not only possible to understand other cultures and other ways of thought, it is possible to blend different cultures together into something new, to recreate a combined culture that can be balanced with aspects of all of our unique perspectives. This is what we must do together in our society in order to regain our footing.
We need to reconnect, relearn how to trust, and most importantly learn a bit of humility to allow us all to come together. With help we can dismantle our culture war and rebuild a shared culture that appreciates everyone and works for us all.
How do we do that? By first understanding ourselves. Make the ethereal concrete, define our culture, and fully understand why we are who we are. We really are at a point where we don’t have much choice or even much time left. Not doing this we will only continue to falter and fail. This is why the Essential Elements of life were created. To provide the explanations, information and tools to help Explorers find their way. The only way to the other side is through, and we can guide you in the right direction. We know it because we have lived it.
©Maven Source International 2021 – All Rights Reserved
The final set of the Essential Elements of Life. An interpersonal look at the world, focusing on creating harmonious relationships. Understanding Unity, Collaborating with our Community, and Surviving Society – concepts and teachings we need to connect with the world around us.
Searching Our Soul, Creating our Culture & Pinpointing Our Purpose, intrapersonal connections that help us decipher the language of our soul
The first four Essential Elements of Life. That which we all deal with as we take our first steps down the path towards Harmony and Fulfillment.
Maybe you have experienced this before: You are in charge of a child (whether your own or someone else’s the experience is mostly the same) and while in your charge the little one falls and scrapes their knee, bumps their head, or has some other dust up that causes them pain.
It’s a caregivers dilemma what to do next. Time seems to freeze for a split second as everyone decides what to do: Do I move towards them to comfort them? Do I hold firm and hope they shake it off?
We are constantly told that the right way to act is to ignore the situation which in turn will help the little one realize it’s not a big deal and that emotions will not help heal them any faster. We have even seen instances of the opposite: when the care giver has acquiesced to emotion it seems to make the situation “worse” as the tears come out and the wailing starts. In cases where the child is ignored and not allowed an emotional reprieve, many times they do in fact “shake it off” and carry on.
Keep calm and carry on… first coined by the Brits during world war two. A good mantra for when times are tough, and something I think of often when faced with strife. But in every day situations, when our life is not really on the line, who is it that benefits from this “stiff upper lip” concept? The care giver who may not have time to thoroughly take care of the emotions? Or the child who may learn resilience?
The Compassion Conundrum
This is the “compassion conundrum” – how much of our time and our emotional capacity should we share with others? How does it help and how does it hurt? When is it necessary and when are we “enabling” someone? How do we keep sharing compassion when we are so overwhelmed just trying to live in our current environment?
I admit that often we do not have time to deal with every emotion that rises in our psyche each day, especially in today’s world, and I have a lot of respect for resilience. However, I also believe strongly that we need to better understand:
what compassion is, how it affects each of us, and how we can practice it to bring balance to our society.
What happens when someone shows compassion to another?
Being a human is difficult. We live in a state where our minds and our hearts are in constant battle. Logic and emotion are consistently at odds, fighting for control over our psyche, and this leads to a complicated existence. Balance is what we are after, but with many external sources of manipulation and confusion it is a very difficult tightrope to walk.
Compassion helps us release these pent up emotions. When another human shows compassion, what they are really doing is taking responsibility to shoulder another’s emotions for a time. They are saying “I know you are struggling, and I am feeling okay right now, so I can lighten your load by taking on some of your emotions so that you can sort through the rest and come back to a good stasis of being“.
When this is offered, it is often accompanied by tears, sometimes overwhelmingly so. We feel grateful to the other for allowing us to breathe, vent, talk, reassess and gain footing. Providing this release is one of the best things we can do for each other and something we all benefit from having in our lives.
In a perfect world we would all have times where we could be the one to provide compassion for others and then in turn, when we need it, someone would be available to do the same for us. This is so necessary that many cultures have specific words or events that allow people to come together and complain and share our feelings. However, with daily distractions and our ever changing environment, we are losing such events, instead moving towards a more singular life experience (a sort of selfishness), or a “self ignoring” of ours and others emotions.
Dealing with Tradeoffs
Some reading this may scoff at the thought of compassion in our world today, immediately thinking of the people in their lives that constantly are in need of assistance, and those who never seem to be able to steady the ground beneath their feet.
Isn’t it bad to coddle someone?
Aren’t we just creating soft people by enabling them in this way?
Can’t compassion hurt some by creating a group of people who greedily feed on our good will without ever giving back?
These thoughts and questions, while definitely something to keep in mind, should be a small piece of this equation. Yes, there are people out there who need constant compassion and enabling, but we shouldn’t use them as the rule, instead as more of the exception. We can learn techniques that help us remove ourselves from a soul sucking situation, instead bringing in reinforcements that are equipped to help those of us having a hard time getting off the floor.
But even in regular situations, we have to become aware that showing compassion doesn’t always work out the way we would like it to: with perfect symbiosis.
These tradeoffs to showing compassion should not discourage us, they should instead allow us to create a better outline for moving forward; we should use them as a practice ground and a place to learn lessons. Take heed, reflect, and be honest with ourselves:
Why were we being compassionate? Was it to feed our own ego? Was it to feel better about asking for compassion in the future?
Did we try a wrong approach? Each of us looks at compassion differently, we need open communication to ensure that we are not just providing what works for us, but what will help the other person in the future.
Was compassion the right thing to do in this moment? Being compassionate when we are not in a place to offer it can do a disservice to others as well as to ourselves. Our patience may wane quickly if we are not balanced in our own world. We need to also practice being honest with ourselves and each other; explain gently but firmly when you are unable to provide compassion, then come back when you are able to give again.
Asking these questions helps us strengthen our compassion muscles.
As we gain this strength, we can better assess when and how much compassion may be necessary within your relationships. When to push someone and when to coddle a bit. When to stop and take the time to provide someone else with the love they need, and when to explain that we are not in a place to do so. While this is a lot to take on, even starting small can really add a lot. In case you are a bit stumped, I thought I would share a few small examples of compassion that I have used with great success:
Being Kind to ourselves
Ignoring our own emotions in lieu of helping others adds unnecessary stress to our lives. We will inevitably experience those emotions regardless of how hard we pretend they do not exist, usually at a very inopportune time. It is important to experience our emotional reactions in a safe place and with those we trust in order to work through them productively. Self compassion is an important part of being able to effectively share compassion with others. Try to pick one point in each day to be kind internally: take a walk, meditate, practice mantras or other things that make you feel calm, content and centered.
Looking people in the eye
When you meet someone’s gaze, it shows that you are focused on paying attention to them. When we are distracted, looking away, fidgeting, the other person starts to feel like their words and actions mean little to us. That whatever has us distracted is much more important than communicating. Looking someone in the eye helps the people in our lives understand how important they are to us. When this is not possible, take a moment to explain why it is not and follow up once you have the time and capacity.
Saying “Thank You”
Showing gratitude helps us feel humble and feeling humble allows us to connect with others as our egos do not get in the way. Saying “Thank you”, even for something small, shows the other person that helping you was appreciated and very worth their time. Not only does this make them feel good, it also creates a stronger bond which adds to our longevity and overall happiness.
Asking “How are you” and really wanting to know the answer
Americans, especially, have a habit of using “how are you” as “hello” and only wanting a one-word answer. Think about how we feel when this happens to us, does it add to our happiness? Or does it take something (even a little bit) away? I argue it does the latter and have seen a lot of my relationships flourish because I took the time to really want to know how the other person was.
My hope is that slowly practicing these small traits will show one how good it can feel to show compassion, how a little bit goes a long way, and what help it can really be to our own lives. The more compassion we create in the world, the higher we can rise together.
Because deep inside, many of us desire to be better humans, but we do not quite know how…
Because we have wished on the moon, tried so many different things, and while we feel better for a little while, it doesn’t quite stick…
Because our hearts and our minds are telling lies to each other, and our souls are suffering for it…
Because we are overwhelmed with surface-level distractions, consistently pushed through the same old system leaving a level of muck that weighs heavy on us each day. Unresolved issues growing larger and deeper with each generation. Problems that reach back through history and seem unsolvable.
Over the centuries, people or groups in power, or strong and certain believers have tried to provide different templates for humans to use as an example of a “good life” : religious, political, commercial, spiritual, motivational, etc.
Each framework provides some of the answers, but often lead back to a similar agenda: To keep us living within the current status quo.
We can reject this way of thinking if only we have a few key ingredients:
*A courageous heart
*An individualized map. One that provides the information you need to walk the path right for you
*A guide. One who has studied, experimented, succeeded and failed. Someone to help you find your answers by sharing tools, information, anecdotes and best practices. Most of all, someone to listen.
That is why the Elements of Life© were created: to create a community of Explorers who reach the summit and find their way.
We will only find unity when each of us feel worthy and wanted
We will only feel worthy and wanted if we understand our meaning
We will only understand our meaning if we are guided towards the light
Whether you are an Explorer, a Crusader or a Pioneer our classes will provide you a deep level of insight into our ten basic elements of humanity and assist you in uncovering your path to harmony. These elements are what help us to reconcile with the confounding, overwhelming obviousness of life and create a solid core on which to build a fulfilling existence.
Thanks for joining me!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton