I’ve been talking about dropping power dynamics and stepping into the energy of co-creation, which is about acknowledging people as unique individuals and then choosing to work together, negotiating win-wins as necessary because there’s service to a larger goal (such as connecting with the people you love).
I focused on examples such as doing this within the family, but I think that there’s really a wider context for all of this. I think that the world needs it.
Whether you’re citing scholarly texts from sociologists who talk about humankind’s resistance to any form of domination, or you’re just looking around and noticing that it sure is nicer to live in a home, community, or world where people are getting along, the simple truth is that no one likes feeling as though they can’t say “no” in a situation. People want to have choices and options.
I brought up the fact that generations of our parents and forefathers (and foremothers) have grown up under the edict that one person made the rules for everyone, and that was that. That dynamic, while perhaps not always healthy on a psychological level (can we say “repression”?), was easier to maintain when families had but one house to share among multiple generations, and where you were born was probably where you grew up, worked, and then died.
Now, interstate highways and international travel have changed the game. People can, and do, move away from home and start making up networks of “chosen” families. People cut off from one another in a way that is probably a first in all of human history. My guess is that most people reading this know at least one person who doesn’t talk to a certain member of their family
In essence, while technology is a blessing in many ways, a downside is that it’s now easier to pick up and move on, rather than doing the hard work of negotiating a relationship.
Families are torn apart by power dynamics that require compliance. Few people, if any, are lucky enough to get the counseling help that they need in order to negotiate good boundaries with people who are truly harmful parents or family members, so they opt instead for cutting themselves off emotionally or geographically. And even in those cases where someone gets help with boundary-setting, my experience and the experiences I’ve heard from others is that a lot of work is put into setting the boundaries–less so into forgiving and truly letting go.
Boundaries without forgiveness? Really, just a different version of suffering. The emotional chains and the draining energy are still all there, until we let go and truly forgive.
So on a societal level, we need this shift.
We also need it on a global level. It’s harmful when one country calls the shots for all others, setting up a dynamic of “If you don’t like it, we’ll punish you somehow.” (And eyes, I’ll be completely transparent in saying that I see the United States as one of the countries that does this, and I don’t agree with it).
The international community cannot effectively come together for the larger goal of solving the world’s problems when we’re caught in a dynamic of tit for tat and bullying and dominance. As I said before, co-creation is enlivening. Stop by any TED talk and see people coming together to exchange ideas and you can see that. Compliance is deadening–emotionally, energetically, and in the case of wars–literally.
I’m hardly the first person to suggest this. If you read Moral Politics by George Lakoff, you’ll see his breakdown of the Strict Father and Nurturing Parent models, and at the end of the book, his advocation that we move away from the Strict Father model (which is rooted in compliance) and towards the Nurturing Parent model (rooted in co-creation/collaboration).
What You Can Do
Often when someone starts bringing up socio-political talk like this, eyes glaze over. I believe that that reaction is not because people don’t care, but rather because people feel helpless and ineffective in the face of a problem that seems too huge.
How in the world can I possibly change the world? people ask. Then they worry that someone’s about to ask for their time or their money.
Here’s the amazing thing about all of this–the most radical act could in fact be this undertaking and practice of basic respect and co-creation within our own families.
Parents who notice that their adult sons/daughters came and went and there’s an emptiness to the visit can choose to shift out of a dynamic that’s based in hierarchy, instead committing to co-creation and respectful communication and dropping judgments.
Adults who feel disconnected from their parents can start taking the focus off of their parents and put it squarely on themselves, and one’s own personal integrity, and remain committed to co-creation, respectful communication and dropping judgments.
Enough people practicing this could shift the world in amazing ways–and it doesn’t cost any time, or even any money. All it takes it the willingness to risk, to flail a bit and course-correct when old habits pop back up, gentleness, and a commitment to co-creation in service to a larger goal–inhabiting the world, and these lives, together.
So–the question becomes–what will you do? If you notice this dynamic in your own family, how will you take action as it pertains to your judgments, reactions, energetic or geographic disconnection? And what will you support in the world? Will you support leaders or countries or policies that are based in power hierarchies, or those that are invested in collaboration?