Happy Inter-Dependence Day
I was recently in our nation's capitol, Washington, DC, for a couple of days working with one of my favorite college basketball teams on mindfulness-based mental performance training. I had a great time. As I departed in a taxi for the airport, I read the news on my phone that the tanks were on their way for the 4th of July extravaganza. DC is one of my all-time favorite cities. However, when I heard this, I was glad to be getting out of town. (Real strength is knowing that you have it without having to show it.)
Rest assured. This is not a political post.
From my childhood memories, I recall the 4th of July being about neighborhood parades, family cookouts, shooting fireworks, eating burnt hot dogs, and running like maniacs with sparklers in both hands. This holiday was always a way for people to come together, break bread, and have fellowship. Sadly, we now live in times when our collective consciousness is more fixated on pointing out each others' differences instead of putting out some effort to connect on common ground.
If you would have told me as a child that one day we would be celebrating this holiday by marching tanks through the streets of Washington, DC, I would have thought you were out of your mind. In my opinion, the tanks are symbolic of the lack of civil discourse, compassion, and empathy in our modern day society. We are too concerned with being right instead of trying to learn from each other's perspectives.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are wonderful for connecting with each other, but the downside of these platforms is that they make it too easy to attack when we feel wronged or not validated. We are apt to say things to people in these mediums that we would never say to their faces.
The brilliant marketing geniuses on Madison Avenue make big bucks exploiting our fears. Think about it. If you buy this cream, your wrinkles will fade away, and you will look younger! If you purchase this shampoo, your hair will grow back! If you swallow this little blue pill, you will make love like the stud muffin you were born to be! :)
Political leaders employ these same fear tactics as the advertisers to be able to manipulate us as well. They want you to believe that one side is "good" and the other is "bad." They prey upon our fears of the unknown. In doing so, they control us by wanting us to be afraid of others who are different from us- those of different color skin, different languages, different socioeconomic status,
different beliefs, etc. Over time, if we aren't careful, we build up what is called cognitive dissonance. This causes us to be inflexible and unyielding in our beliefs, even when we know we are wrong.
People are sometimes shocked to hear me say in conversation, "You are right. I was wrong." I truly believe that real growth takes place when we are flexible enough in our thinking to change our minds and even sometimes admit we were wrong about something. It seems to me that most people would rather fixate on differences than learn from each other.
One of the reasons I enjoy DC so much is the diversity of its population. Of the numerous taxi rides I experienced in those few days, I had drivers from all over the world, including: Iran, Dominican Republic, and Ethiopia. While on the surface, it may seem that I had little in common with these drivers, once we started talking, it was easy to see how much we had in common. We are all working men, who care about our families and want the world to be a better place.
There is a chapter in my book, Slow Your Roll, called "ONE," that examines just how much we are all connected. I believe that we are all much more connected than we even realize, and we have more similarities than differences.
My good friend, well known publisher and author, Timber Hawkeye, had a wonderful post this morning that reinforces my sentiment of ONE:
"We are dependent on one another (all species and elements), in an intricate web and beautiful balance, but sshhh.. don't tell the ego! It thinks of itself as independent, somehow separate from others, maybe even delusional enough to believe itself superior."
Happy 4th of July. Have a wonderful Inter-dependence Day!