Anatomy of a Solution
When I try to look at challenges in my life, my community and in the world, I find it imperative to approach those challenges at the source rather than the symptoms. Having grown up with natural healing and chiropractic as preventative measures before seeking more intensive medical treatment, I feel that the approach of seeking the source of the problem is a good way of assessing what kind of treatment may restore health to system in question.
For example, the spine is the main pathway for messages between one’s brain and the rest of the body, most importantly the organs. If there is a vertebrae out of place, it could potentially cause those vital messages from the brain to be slowed, or far worse, not be sent at all. One can imagine that something that could be perceived to be a heart or liver issue might have been assisted by adjusting the vertebrae so that those organs could receive the regulatory information they needed. One could feel a lack of circulation or pain in their fingers, and choose to apply a pain medication, but would only be alleviating the symptom of a larger problem. In this way, I wish to approach the majority of the issues that come to my mind and attention.
This excerpt from a document entitled “One Common Faith” captures some elements of this idea:
“Few will disagree that the universal disease sapping the health of the body of humankind is that of disunity. Its manifestations everywhere cripple political will, debilitate the collective urge to change, and poison national and religious relationships. How strange, then, that unity is regarded as a goal to be attained, if at all, in a distant future, after a host of disorders in social, political, economic and moral life have been addressed and somehow or other resolved. Yet the latter are essentially symptoms and side effects of the problem, not its root cause. Why has so fundamental an inversion of reality come to be widely accepted? The answer is presumably because the achievement of genuine unity of mind and heart among peoples whose experiences are deeply at variance is thought to be entirely beyond the capacity of society’s existing institutions. While this tacit admission is a welcome advance over the understanding of processes of social evolution that prevailed a few decades ago, it is of limited practical assistance in responding to the challenge.”
Our world is riddled with challenges of many sorts, and most who are reading could present dozens of concrete examples of behaviors, systems and institutions that are not functioning optimally. This critical analysis, though very important, is often where we find ourselves stopping. I very seldom hear of viable solutions to these problems being offered, and if so, usually with an ideological agenda that proposes for that agenda to be promoted without questioning whether its approach will truly assist in solving the challenge. In most of the media I’ve consumed over the years, there are criticisms being thrown at the left, the right, the conservatives, the liberals, the school system, parents, capitalism, socialism, racism, sexism, industrialization, colonialism, and even human nature. Though I can see the validity of some of the arguments, I call into question whether an overly-simplistic treatment of any of these contributing factors to the problems of the world can adequately address the source of the problem.
At the heart of the mechanics of my human interactions is a certain covenant I have regarding respect, trust, and communication and how they contribute to a relationship built upon unity. My strongest interpersonal relationships were predicated upon a mutual sentiment of respect for each other’s inherent nobility, and our capacity to grow in ways that we can learn from. Within that experience of respect comes a degree of reciprocation, sharing and giving regarding resources; be they material, temporal, or emotional. The other person must trust that my words or actions are never, under any circumstances, intended to injure or insult. The other part of that agreement is that I have to be completely open to receiving honest and frank feedback when something happens to threaten that trust. This communication, in conjunction with the manifold others needed to convey thoughts, interests, concerns, needs and desires is the conduit for better understanding to be achieved among individuals. The unity achieved should not be mistaken for conformity nor any compromising stances that might poison the developing environment with value judgements that disenfranchise one or another perspective.
An individual’s engagement on the level of community has the same elements, but the scope and complexity of all the effected participants require more skill and attention to achieve and maintain unity. Within a community, there are so many nuances to each individuals cultural sensibilities and values about many things including propriety regarding etiquette and formalities of all kinds. One family may consider it a natural occurrence for a friend to visit their home with no prior warning, walk into their front door without knocking, and open the fridge to prepare refreshments. To another family, that set of behaviors could be unimaginable, with the appropriate procedure being that the visitor would email or call, get a response as to the time and date of visit, come to the door when the knock or doorbell is heard, and will bring out food or refreshments to the visitor. Neither is inherently right, but either is appropriate depending on the social contract that the community involved has made and negotiated regarding the navigation of even the simple matter of visiting a friend. Obviously, this isn’t a mechanical process, but rather one that is organic and fluid with many adjustments along the way. What is paramount to the community level is that no one participant’s cultural values or sensibilities be allowed to dictate the standards that the community will adopt, and that justice and flexibility be applied to policies and procedures.
The role of institutions as I see it is to serve as the stewards of the individuals and the communities they serve, and to assist in the evolution and creation of policies that will adequately administer justice and promote the well-being of the whole of the community. The capacity to create space for individuals and communities to learn–that avoids paternalistic, judgmental, greedy and patronizing behaviors–can be nurtured in the posture they take, what communications they transmit, and what actions come from decisions.
In the end, it seems to me that most of the problematic human negotiations (on an individual and collective level)come down to a breakdown in trust, communication and respect in the scenarios that we find ourselves in.
Some questions, if you choose to engage them, is:
What will it take for you to engage more justly, more positively, in a way more rewarding with those around you in the coming days? What sacrifices are you prepared to make to achieve a higher level of unity with those around you?