Scaling Maslow’s hierarchy – Part Two

Our current level is Safety.

We’ve been here before.

In fact, we have been on a rollercoaster of sorts throughout time, continuously drifting up and down Maslow’s hierarchy over the centuries.

America is not unique in this journey as every nation and empire has followed a similar path; the main difference coming from the choices of the people. Cultural proclivities such as attitudes about technology, conservatism, time and change are additional influences that affect one’s trajectory. When something new enters our world we tend to recalibrate in order to accommodate, reject or integrate with the new concept, trend or group.

Recalibration opens up the possibility for power shifts and these shifts then push us from one level to the next. Today, these recalibrations seem almost constant. Change accelerates today faster than any other time, which is jarring, but also gives us the ability to see the patterns more easily within our lifetimes. We can use these patterns to create a better future, however before we can talk about the solutions, let’s take a look at our historical trajectory to provide some context for our current environment.

A Walk through History

Looking at recent decades in American history we can start to see a pattern of collective shifts between the hierarchy’s levels. While we could trace this path back centuries, it makes sense to start with a time most Americans find familiar. Let’s start in the thirties with the Great Depression.

A Depressive Sink into Survival

The Great Depression (1929-1939) would have been a harsh reset into Survival from the highs of the twenties. Many with the most to lose felt a lack of hope so great that they ended their lives rather than have to start to build again. A “Gilded Age” of strong economic and technological growth had been rising since the 1870’s and seemed to offer the masses a promise of a better future.

Unfortunately, hubris grew high and we allowed our greed to blind us from seeing reality. Little to no regulation coupled with a desire for opulence toppled our over inflated economy, and our country paid a high price once everything fell. Today, the Great Depression still lives in our minds as the worst economic situation we have faced as a country. A time of struggle, where so many suffered that we made a collective promise that we would never allow it to happen again.

A bread line in the Great Depression
Storming the beach

World War II saved us from the survival mode of the Great Depression, and drove us quickly into Safety. A war we didn’t want finally showed up at our shores and overwhelmingly we all became Americans who had to defend our nation. Americans were asked to sacrifice for their nation by giving up the little luxuries they had left. Volunteering for the war effort was a source of pride because everyone was doing their part to keep our borders safe.

Laws were passed during this time to provide a safety net for those who had suffered through the Great Depression. Before the war America was not a super power, we had yet to become the biggest kid on the block, so there was a lot of fear that we may be taken over by another nation if we didn’t get this right.

Post War Reset

WWII provided a sheen of belonging; one washed away quickly at the war’s finale. While we had won and it was a time to celebrate, soldiers came home to see their world had changed (or had not changed enough). Women were working; men had to fight for their jobs. Reality set in and the ever growing middle class was still out of reach for those who looked different from the majority of the population. While one could say the sheen of Belonging was purposely promoted as a guise to gain America victory, more likely it was a bout of wishful thinking that allowed us to run head first into disappointment. It sounds good to promote equality, to say that we are all in this together, especially when we had all been in the same trenches, but reality is much more than words and thoughts.

Trust dipped for “outsiders” more than it had during the past decade because we were back in control and there were more resources for the taking. Our population was fragile, and it was easy to create enemies. A once tentative partnership with Russia, so important for winning the war, was torn to shreds. Sputnik and Communism would be the death of us all, and Space became the final frontier.

A Recalibration

Fear has two sides and the push for a reversal to the way things were before was just too much to bear for the groups who had gained so much freedom during the war. Pandora’s box had been opened and we had all seen too much as a country to let progress be stopped. Civil rights, the women’s liberation movement, opposition to the Vietnam War, Mexican American’s fight for rights, environmentalism, and equal opportunity for people with disabilities all had huge movements in the sixties. Counterculture, they called it; Equal rights the request.

A huge movement towards progress was promoted by those marginalized and it pushed for a collective sense of Belonging. “Make love not war” was the slogan of the decade. Hope and Change were the ideals of the masses. Belonging had a good run during this time and lasted into the seventies, but not because we were heading to a utopia. We held onto hope as we moved towards the seventies because the sixties were also a time of pain. So much pain hit the populace in the late sixties with the loss of great leaders and the collective struggle to gain acknowledgement that we all felt Empathy for each other and for our nation.

It didn’t last long. In fact, the seventies brought with it a slew of alternate realities. Empathy started to dissipate amongst those who fell through the cracks. Crime rose as the promises made to many never fully materialized. Our leaders struggled to find a way to keep us from sliding back down the hierarchy. They offered us sports, toughened our laws and reopened Wall Street.

From Hippies to Yuppies

Money in the Eighties created a smoke screen where many were lulled into a sense of Esteem. The world seemed ripe for the taking. Technology was overtaking the world and everyone wanted a piece of the action. Our issues seemed to dissipate with many in the mainstream believing that sexism, racism, and all the other “isms” were in the past as the best, brightest and luckiest of our subcultures saw a jump in upward mobility.

Freedom was on the menu: we could wear what we wanted, act how we wanted and it seemed like anything was possible. Independence was felt in the laws of the land all the way from mass deregulation to the greater acceptance of divorce. My childhood told me that we could be whomever we wanted to be as long as we worked hard enough.

Belonging with a twist…

Resiliency is a double edged sword. Once again, the broken promises of the eighties were felt in the nineties and still our country was not reconciled, but many of us growing up during this time saw something else. To us, it was a different world where it didn’t matter if you were Black or White. Where we all wanted similar things at our core, yet wanted to learn about each other’s differences. The nineties became a world of mass customization where individual stories gained importance and people of subgroups felt safe enough to become who they really were instead of living up to a cookie cutter existence.

The adults saw it differently and as the saying goes “what goes up, must come down”. The idealized world that was on the cusp of existence became too much for those in power to handle. They saw a world growing out of their grasp, a sea of different cultures that had more in common with each other that could take their power away. Companies were allowed to take what we once loved dearly and commercialize it; creating a world once again bathed in plastic meant to keep everything the same. Once the internet was commercialized the lure of it was too much for the masses.

The Beginning of the End…

So started our downfall. Fear grew as the year 2000 approached, and, coupled with the attack on the World Trade Center, our world again became fragile. There were those that worked hard to remind us that we are all Americans and with slogans like “Hope and Change” and “Yes, we can!” we held onto Belonging for awhile but it was too difficult to keep.

The pressure, and the responsibility, was just too great. If one has not reconciled their own pain it is difficult to push a narrative to others and our country had never truly healed. Pressure causes cracks, and the current pressure heaped upon nations seen as global leaders today is the heaviest yet. Our “experiment” could not yet be called a success as our populace was not ready. Every side is ultimately concerned with getting what they are “owed”. Hurt emotions stemming from our past are still too difficult to overcome, and impatience with groups that have differing views has eroded the little trust we had built. We spiraled into a land of ambiguity and pain where our fear of real change and our lack of growth has caused us to slip decidedly into a land where Safety matters most.

Tunnel Vision

Living in Safety shrinks one’s “bubble”, causes tunnel vision and allows us to stop caring about our neighbors because we see them as a threat instead of part of our community. Fear of change feeds upon itself and conceived dangers trickle into every aspect of our lives. To combat these feelings we enact more laws, strengthen police, and create new boundaries and divisions to help us gain control. When these boundaries do not hold tight we lash out in anger at our perceived loss of self-determination.

Laws can force us together, but they cannot remove our emotions. Emotions need to be reconciled to create a place of peace, and this reconciliation is easily derailed. Each time we recalibrate we have new emotions to reconcile and our fast pace world makes this difficult. Progress has brought diversity, which is great, but as we have blended our multiple cultures emotions become more complicated.

Groups must storm before they can norm and without assistance this work can be overwhelming and bring about distrust. New fears crop up as we are pitted against each other, all fighting for the same scraps that we are allowed. Fear of not losing all we have built has overtaken our desire for Belonging.

Manifesting Safety

The safety zone is characterized by an overwhelming sense of desire to create a safe place for yourself and loved ones. Not just desire, but one of urgency and need. All of our emotions, brainpower, ideas, the entire way we see the world are consumed with this viewpoint. Maslow states, “A man, in this state, if it is extreme enough and chronic enough, may be characterized as living almost for safety alone.” (Maslow, 1943)

Many times we head back to the safety zone if we have been pushed out of our current comfort zone or are heading into a new environment. Today’s environment is new for everyone and some handle ambiguity better than others. Think of the acts of aggression we continuously experience through our screens. Many of these acts come from a place of fear of losing control. We see this with the parents that have turned into activists, yelling emotionally on the subjects of masks and vaccines. People who feel a lack of control, who may otherwise have things together, will lash out when their control is challenged.

Other times such actions can be characterized by a fear of losing face. This fear grabs hold of our minds and makes us believe that everything we once knew will now be considered wrong if we accept the new idea. For example, a lot of Americans, many of them White, are struggling to accept that America has a flawed and racist past.

Doing so, they believe, would mean everything they work for, everything they stand for, everything they know and find comfortable would then be tainted. It also means they have more work to do to explain this to their children, balancing their self esteem with the burden from one’s past. We ask a lot of parents today. Coupled with our trends for nixing nuance and context, we live in a world where something tainted is rarely redeemable. This causes a cycle that we cannot escape and pushes us further into our respective corners.

The mainstream has become flooded with our desires to stay safe, or find control. Safe spaces at universities, “segregated” graduations and most of our parenting trends have all sided with Safety over Belonging. Militarization of our police, doorbells with cameras, laws that uphold cultural or religious battles, cold case podcasts, and the overwhelming amount of crime shows, are all examples of our obsession with Safety. Investigations into the Catholic church, #metoo, Gymnastics, Facebook and others all center around the idea of keeping us and our children safe.

Painting a Picture of Reality

We live in a time where Safety and security is important because we have a fear of the future. Uncertainty causes us to see everything as a threat and it has now infused our society. This is not to say that threats are not real, and we do have a right and an healthy expectation to live in an environment with less harm. No one should have to live in fear for their life.

However, Safety is not a place to stay and in order to change we need to be aware of our tendencies. Moving into Safety starts a slippery slope, one that we can only consciously choose to be different. If we do nothing, Survival is on the way, and no one would choose that except those with a death wish or an immense amount of greed. If we take stock, realize where we are, and implement ways to bridge these divides we can shift towards a new sense of Belonging. My hope is that this group of essays and the teachings of the Essential Elements of Life will help us see that it is better to move towards each other than further apart.

Next week we will take a look at Survival. It’s just around the corner, but we can stave it off if we try. However beware, there are tradeoffs with everything and Belonging will not be easy. Join me again next week as we unravel the patterns that connect us all and find our path forward together.

©Maven Source International, LLC 2021 – All Rights Reserved

Scaling Maslow’s hierarchy – Part One

What if the answers to solving our problems are right in front of us? Maybe we just need to take another look. Reaching into the past, seeing ideas another way, can help us uncover how best to move forward. This has been my focus for the past few years, and here I will attempt to describe my findings in the plainest way possible. This series will dive into the details of Maslow’s theory, what it is, where it came from, and most importantly, how it can be used to help us understand the mysteries of our current environment. Using this as a prism, we will examine our past, the path we took collectively to arise at our present, and what our options are for our collective future. Part One provides an overview of the theory and sets the tone for the remainder of the series.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs

Many people have heard of, or have even studied, Maslow’s hierarchy, but often it is nothing more than a mention of human behavior or a short blurb in a text book. Rarely do we truly understand it at it’s depths, or what it really looks like in practice.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an idea in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A theory of Human Motivation” in the journal Psychological Review. Wikipedia

Maslow’s Hierarchy

Comprised of five levels: Physiological needs (aka Survival), Safety, Belonging, Esteem and Self-actualization, Maslow’s hierarchy is seen as a way to explain our trek through life. Seen as a pyramid, each level can be compared to a video game, where each level must be completed prior to focusing on the next. Each level is so consuming that even if the needs above are offered the subject may ignore or not understand them as they focus on the level they are working to satisfy.

Understanding the Pyramid

  • Survival focuses on obtaining a consistent influx of the necessary things we need to survive: food, water, shelter, rest.
  • The Safety level concentrates on keeping that consistent influx secure as well as creating an environment where one does not constantly live in fear.
  • Belonging awakens our need to fit into a community, to find a partner or a group and create a family where one feels loved and is able to give love to others.
  • Esteem brings with it the desire for respect and a need to be seen for what one can provide to their communities and to the world. When working on the esteem level we become focused on our reputations, how the world sees us and what we are able to achieve in life.
  • Last, but not least, if one is able to attain each of the previous levels they will then move on to self-actualization. Maslow describes the desire at this level as “what a man can be, he must be.” (Maslow, 1943) This level’s goal is “self-fulfillment” or living up to one’s potential. The epitome of being able to create one’s best environment in which they can thrive.

Two sides of the coin

As with most things, each level comes with their own tradeoffs, as well as repercussions to ourselves and our place in society if we are unable to meet them.

  • Not meeting survival often means a cessation of one’s life or at least their ability to care for themselves. When one must solely concentrate their day on getting enough food to eat, a place to sleep, enough rest to function and clean water to drink there is little time for anything else – even with the best of intentions.
  • Having the basics, but not feeling safe, leaves one anxious, fearful and constantly on guard.
  • Struggling to reach belonging, something many people suffer from today, leaves people with a hardened heart, a lack of empathy and a spiteful outlook on life.
  • A lack of esteem, or the inability to seek and/or discover one’s purpose leaves us with a feeling of inferiority, a low self-esteem, and a horrible sense of depression. We feel we do not matter, are not needed, and have no direction.
  • An inability to reach self-actualization creates a feeling that one has failed at life.

A Shared Experience

Normally, Maslow’s theory has been focused on an individual perspective; something each of us work through during our lifetime. However, I believe that throughout history, all humans have worked to fulfill these needs both individually and as a group (comprised of one’s family, community, nation and/or world) in both conscious and unconscious ways.

Our world is an organism, and has many attributes that we could ascribe to a human being. Many theorize that we also have a shared consciousness affected by our feelings, thoughts and actions. Our world can grow to be harmonious or hellish depending on what we value, how we treat each other and what we digest. Just like we need to keep our own bodies healthy, it is extremely important for us all to keep our nations healthy as well. Given the ability to be healthy and find fulfillment, we then collectively are able to have empathy for our neighbor and want our citizens to attain their highest and best.

However, when our bodies are sick we do not function well and become divisive and angry. Illness leaves us often unable to think clearly and we portray negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, stress, depression and judgement. The same happens to our society when we have an inordinate amount of people in our community that are unwell and are struggling to be well. When we have many who are unable to achieve the basic needs in life, feel safe and feel like they belong, we will all suffer the consequences sooner or later. This is why it is important to study our society as a whole using these theories to provide us a lay of the land.

Why this matters

Seeing the world in this way allows us to formulate an understanding of the problems we face. While one theory is not the entire answer, this theory allows us a place to start. We will discuss other theories in future series and compare and contrast their affect on our world. As we see the connections and overlaps, we can start to construct a holistic view of where our nation is struggling and how best to overcome these obstacles to self-actualization. Seeing the truth of the matter helps us to create plans that allow us to diminish these issues.

For example, the Essential Elements of life focuses on helping our Explorers navigate the levels of Belonging, Esteem and Self-Actualization. With our Finding Fusion programs we help people to shed the layers of stress, find fulfillment and create a balanced life. Knowing where you, your community and your nation are at collectively helps us see where to start. Learning the necessary skills to move up the levels can help us find other ways to raise our collective vibrations and create a collective future that works for everyone.

Next week – Part Two – Our current level is Safety

©Maven Source International, LLC 2021 – All Rights Reserved

Brands: Surface level Reputations for an ever-busy world

Brands – one reason our world is heading down the toilet.

Most specifically, the idea of “personal branding” and the immense importance being put upon the concept in our current environment.

Over the past few decades, the idea of “branding” oneself has grown exponentially. No longer, it seems, is it a “nice to have”, but instead a “need to have”, especially in the corporate world. Any cursory search online for “personal brand” brings up hundreds of listings with anything from tips, how-to’s, suggestions, failures, and personal branding “gurus” offering their services to give your brand pep in it’s step. In a world where billions are online, it makes sense that many people are scrambling to find ways to be noticed. Thousands upon thousands work to stand out as unique in order to create opportunities and more importantly, to be recognized as influential. However, when that quest for recognition feeds upon itself: when we become a two-dimensional dossier striving for popularity in a high school-like environment (especially when everyone is mostly concerned with promoting themselves instead of understanding the other brands out there) it defeats the entire purpose and only sows aggression and discontent.

As I launch my own business, I too have stumbled into this arena, working to create content that is both catchy and informative, insightful yet colorful and have found myself stretching out way past my comfort zone into the world of social media in order to show the world what I have to offer. Conceptually, this is distasteful to my psyche and against my nature. Calling for attention feels gross; selling myself at times makes me both physically and mentally ill. These feelings have caused me to question this “need to have” idea of branding.

Where did this concept come from? How does branding affect our lives? Can one really exist online in a way that follows today’s norms while still staying true to our morals, values and philosophy?

For example: the other day, while on LinkedIn, I stumbled across a post bringing up the subject of branding in a way that was unsettling, and the conversation that ensued was surprising. The question posed in the post asked their community if one’s personal life should have an affect on their professional brand. Overall, the conversation focused on the rise of the “Karen” and “Ken” labels floating through society. For anyone that is unfamiliar with the terms, a “Karen” or “Ken” is a person who has been shown on video reacting (usually over-reacting) to a situation where the outcome makes them look racist, like an anti-vaxer or anti-masker, sexist, homophobic, transphobic or some other form of anathema unacceptable in our current environment.

The community comments responding to the post had some level of disagreement, however the overall majority soundly responded “Yes” in one way or another. Seeing the ease that people were able to pass judgement on another without knowing anything about the nuance or context surrounding the situation was extremely disappointing.

The conversations and responses were very much in agreement that these incidents SHOULD affect their brand, and that any repercussions they may suffer due to these altercations were rightly justified. Many of you reading this may agree with this judgement being passed, but I was horrified by the responses and will plead my case here. Let’s take a deeper look at the concept: where branding came from, how and why it became so popular and why it has become dangerous to our communities.

The Concept of Branding

Originating from the Old Norse language, the word brand originally referred to a piece of burning wood. Later the word came to mean “mark permanently with a hot iron.” Over time it came to be used as a verb, referring to marking that which was owned such as goods, animals and (horrifically) people. (skyword.com)

Modern day branding for companies and corporations came about in the 20th century, most likely due to “the standardization of quality products for consumers in the middle of the 20th century, which required companies to find a new way to differentiate themselves from their competitors.” (the Atlantic)

Personal branding for everyday people gained notoriety in 1997 from a man named Tom Peters. “Peters told us that no matter what industry we work in, or where we live, we’re all CEOs of our own personal brand, and that means that we must market ourselves just as vigorously as any product or service.” (fastcompany.com)

By the mid-2000’s, this concept was mostly used by entrepreneurs and small business owners trying to keep pace with the larger corporations to help them stand apart from the group. Those most savvy and on top of technology really benefited from this idea and were able to gain unbelievable recognition with the help of the internet, and more importantly the beginning of mainstream use of social media.

This also led to a boom in the marketing industry. According to the Atlantic, many companies didn’t even have a marketing department until the late 1990’s, but seeing the success that some of these “branded” companies were having caused many to realize that this extra cost was exponentially worth the effort. As we all know, this concept has only grown and spread, promising social media-ites fame, fortune and success if only their brand is good enough.

Personal Branding

Brands are problematic because they allow us to be lazy about connecting and lack the nuance of a reputation. Brands and Reputations are often compared and deemed interchangeable, but they are actually quite different. Before the internet, the closes thing to a “personal brand” was a reputation. Individuals created a reputation through in-person discussions, what groups we spent time with, what information we digested, clothing we wore, and items we purchased. A reputation takes time to build, and is the consensus of how you live up to your philosophy. In the past, reputations reached our friends, our family, our communities; the boundaries based mostly on how far we were willing to travel from home.

It is impossible for the entire internet to know each one of us, so brands have taken the place of a reputation. A brand is a promise to the world of who you are, what you stand for and what you intend to pursue while on this Earth. A visual way to see what people (or companies) are all about, without having to get to know them. A two-page dossier, or a few social media pages shouting your qualifications and strengths to the world.

Brands can be staged, propped up and often tell only the story that the person wants one to see. History has shown it is possible to rebrand something with enough resources, and this is why they are disingenuous replacements for reputations. Think of the amount of companies that are still in business even though they have taken advantage of or caused harm to our populace. Think BP, NFL, and other corporations that you may very well be a fan of that once had a poor reputation but due to successful rebranding were able to stay in the mainstream. Brands are fake, a promise that does not need to be lived up to as long as one has a good marketing team. A concept that allows our populace to continue consuming whatever has the best or loudest 30 second commercial that grabs our emotions and holds on tight.

Regular people do not have good marketing teams. Regular people do not have the money necessary to squash all bad press that portrays them in a bad light. Knowing that does little to stop the judgement that we so easily throw at each other at the drop of a hat. We live in a time where people are kept to higher standards than the corporations that supposedly took an oath to provide us with fair and true products and services. People are judged on one video, post or tweet; each time given 30 seconds to impress us, disgust us, or charm us. We judge how it made us feel, then toss it aside as the newest sparkly things dances before our eyes with little regard for what comes next for the person we just encountered. Yes, there were instances where one’s reputation was ruined prior to the internet, but often one could work to reinvent themselves within their community or in the most dire cases, relocate and start anew. The internet offers no such quarter.

A flash-in-the-pan moment and someone’s life could be ruined, with little chance at redemption if they have no marketing expert by their side. Call it many things, “wokeness“, “cancel culture“, “accountability”, I call it laziness and scapegoating. A way for the rest of us to feel better about ourselves and our choices. A way for us to feel “perfect”.

The way forward

It would be silly for me to say that we should stop using brands. So long as the world is our stage, small fish will feel compelled to make themselves known and the fastest way to do that is to create a snazzy brand. Social media is not going away anytime soon, nor is online communication, and with those concepts we will all continue to feel the need to shine a light on who we are and what we stand for, often in ways that go way above and beyond. My hope is to convince the majority to take more time before weighing in or judging others so quickly, especially when it comes to an incident that goes viral. We need to go back to caring more about reputations, that which is built over time providing an arc of consistency rather than judging someone on what could have been their worst day. Even criminals caught on tape are allowed a trial, time to plead their case and explain their mindset.

To move us in a better direction we much reconstruct our social contract. I mentioned earlier that our social contract is our inherent agreement of how we each should treat each other within our community. We will discuss this topic more in future blogs, but suffice it to say that our social contract in America needs a lot of rework. In this spirit, I put forth these suggestions for a new social contract when communicating online:

How to stop being a part of the problem

When watching a scandalous viral moment:

  • If you don’t have time to research the person’s prior reputation, let this stuff pass you by. Don’t comment, don’t judge.
  • If nothing else exists on the person (one hit wonder) after a search and you want to comment, make sure it is about the behavior, not a personal attack. Do not just “throw shade” but comment in a way that gently corrects the behavior, mentioning why it was so unacceptable and how they could have approached the situation instead. Have respectful conversations with those who suggest differing behaviors, work to come to a shared understanding.
  • In the case that you know this person, and know this is not who they are, speak up. Firmly denounce the behavior, but tell a story about who the person really is. Suggest reasons why they acted that way; give the benefit of the doubt.
  • Even if the person is historically flawed, again, feel free to comment on the behavior, provide gentle correction, but then ask yourself why this matters in your life. How does this person affect you? Are they influencing people you know? Turn your focus there and work with your community to help them understand why this is unacceptable, what should be acceptable, and most importantly how to live well. Reconfirm your shared social contract.
  • Don’t focus on building a brand. Focus on building a reputation.

We have enough hate, anger, aggression and unhappiness to last us all more than a lifetime. Let’s turn these moments into constructive learning opportunities instead of creating more enemies or social prisoners.

©Maven Source International, LLC 2021 – All Rights Reserved

Emotion vs. Logic: An American Tale

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:

  • Basic -knowledge needed to help one fit into the current structure and create a life that achieves a consistent level of contentment.
  • Advanced – intricate information to add to one’s inherent knowledge in a given area. Not learning for learning’s sake but a specific need or want.

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. 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. Little 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.

The Three Minds

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

How to learn the Essential Elements of Life

Join our Finding Fusion Programs to learn about the Essential Elements of Life. What are they? Click below to learn more.

Need more information? Watch our videos on Stepping Stones, Understanding one’s self and Exploring our world or head on over to our “What we Provide” page.

Understanding Culture: A Path to Unity

Culture matters.
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.

Culture or Identity?

 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.

Layers of Culture

Culture is a layered concept consisting of two levels

  • Big C Culture – what a group creates (literature, music, art, clothing, food, celebrations) or the “what” of a culture
  • Little c Culture – Why a group creates Big C culture. What they treasure, value and believe. How they feel, think or act in different situations.

Intercultural Relations

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. Perceived commonalities (such as sharing a language) often confuse us even more as we cannot understand why we cannot understand each other. We need assistance to bridge these divides and only by understanding what is really going on will we be able to fix our current situation. Intercultural Relations can help us find the answer.

What is happening?

When multiple cultures interact we are dealing with different ways of thought. Our brains are actually working differently, seeing different patterns and solutions to fix our shared problems. Coupled with the ability to turn off intuition, this power allows for different ideas, concepts and viewpoints even when the information coming in is the same.

Historically, when things were much more separated, this wasn’t as much of an issue. People could live their daily lives without having to constantly justify why they thought they way they did. However, today’s world is much smaller. In our ever diversifying environment, 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. This causes friction, and can grow to become dangerous. Confusion like this leads to breakdowns within groups. Misunderstanding causes separation within a community.

Motivation, patience and consideration are necessary to “code-switch” enough in order to understand someone on the opposite end of the spectrum. Unfortunately, motivation, patience and consideration are in short order in today’s world. A lack of these concepts contribute heavily to the overwhelming turmoil, frustration and pain in our society.

Building a Shared Culture

My partner and I experienced this throughout our decade-long courtship. Belonging to an intercultural, inter-ethnic, interracial, and intersexual relationship is difficult. Many who live these realities struggle to the point of exhaustion. These differences between us are only the start. I am an introvert, and he is extroverted. Little bothers him, but I am extremely sensitive. 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. We went to battle over everything: politics, religion, every aspect of American society. Even the importance of the yin skills like empathy and emotional intelligence were debated. (Thankfully, I won those battles, but it took a long time).

Sharing our Souls

How did we get past these differences? First, we needed to make the conscious decision that we were going to do this together. Second, we needed to gained comfortability with each other. Lastly, we needed to mature. Over time, and a lot of discussion, we were able to compare, contrast and dissect all of these different attributes that made up both our identities and our cultures.

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 of these ways are better. Both are important and blending the two ways of being is powerful. Starting from a singular point of view, and learning the majesty in each other’s viewpoints and approaches helped us gain an unmatched sense of control over life.

Hard work pays off

What was our prize for all of this hard work? Initially, a level of comfort. A place we could call our own. A gameboard where we could that played by our shared rules. Shortly thereafter, this comfort zone became a circle of trust. Trust allowed us to commit to each other. Finally, over time, we were able to create our own unique culture. Our home. These conversations allowed us to fully understand each other and our shared journey started to become fun. Experiencing someone who thinks so differently became our shared puzzle, one we could learn from and grow with. 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.

Finding Our Way

Photo by Thirdman on Pexels.com

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

Exploring our World

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.