In many visionary and transformative business encounters the question arises why it is so difficult to get people to be cooperative and working together towards higher social or ecological/environmental goals? Despite many attempts visionary people get frustrated because they may get people around the table, open up interesting dialogues but never seem to get to the massive organization of the pursuit for a true higher purpose. At one stage invariably self interest seems to become dominant again in such process making the whole thing fall apart or take a turn away from its original purpose.
We invariable then end up talking again about the column of values that I describe in my book “secretes of true welfare” (in Dutch only, soon available in English) and that I now share with you in English.
Column of values: identity (I am), safety, equality, cooperation, trust, social responsibility, ecological responsibility, universal responsibility (we are).
Column of counter values: lack of identity, insecurity, unequality, self interest, disconfidence, greed, lack of responsibility.
The conflict between those columns is one that we struggle with ourselves, our personal integrity towards our life, but also all kinds of societies that we become active in during that life. I refer to the cultural society that we live in, the business society in which we work or the religious society that we may be part of. They all have to deal with the conflict between the two columns in their own structure and establishment.
It would be far too much to address the entire complexity of the column of values in one blog entry so I will address them one by one starting right at the beginning, the authentic individual.
Column of Values:
The column in essence is very easy to understand but in present day society extreemly difficult to develop. Why? Well when we look at the top of the column we encounter the global social and environmental responsibilities that we all carry. Everyone understands those higher values from an idealistic point of view. We however never seem to break through idealism into practical persuit and structural organisation around those values. The problem lies not in our awareness but in the stack of values underneath.
We see there three basic levels of individual values that we need to get firmly in place on a personal level and two sets of values that are need to bridge our individual identity with others to reach our for the highest forms of sustainable humanity.
The very first level of those individual values is the most significant as it creates the solid foundation for the rest. Without this first level firmly in place the rest of the stack will be impossible to develop. Here it is:
First level: Authentic, Unique, Personal Identity (I am)- Every human being is born as a unique creature of mind, spirit and matter. We each have our own purpose to fullfil in the complexity and the adventure of life. Each of us gets to a stage of asking ourselves the intimide question: “who, what, why am I?”. The question is proper to our intellectual being, a factor that distinguishes us from other life forms. We can ask ourselves what purpose we serve in life? That is a disturbing question as it suggests that we may have a more significant position in the universal creation as most other creatures never get troubled with such thoughts and just focus on survival. Why else are we blessed or cursed with self awareness and the ability of intelligent thought?
The question of “who am I” is often eliminated out of our lifes as we have hung our existance up in trees of hierarchies. There is always someone who decides for us: our boss, a politician, government, a judge, a policeman, a parent, our bank account. In many societies the individual has robotised its existance by assume simple truth of organised human life: I have to get up at 7, go to school or work, marry when I am around 25, stop work when I am 65, buy a house, have children, make sure I have a job, buy a car, go on holiday a couple of times per year, pay taxes, etc. And society has robotised as well by giving everyone one or more numbers and refering to people as citizens, consumers, tax payers, etc.
Who questions anything? Why would you question everything? If you are the same as everyone else what distinguishes you of any other person?
Many people develop then their identity around what they possess. They refer to what they are by telling about their job, the size of the car or the newest TV set.
Most people in modern capitalist society are what we call “me too” people, meaning that opinions and securities are formed around “what others say”. The identity is created by what one has, not what one is. A large car, a house, the clothing, the amount of money one can spend, etc. All external signs of identity that have nothing to do with inner wealth of a positive self image and rich spiritual life.
All one has one can loose. If you take away all possession from the person, what will remain? A lot of insecurity. Take away the job, a social welfare or pension, i.e. the security of an amount of money at the end of the month, how will the person react? Panic?
The things people tend to value are external. But external things need to be made and kept in place and just those are the elements that create the higher level problems s.a. environmental polution, social unrest, etc. Hence, if we want to address the high level issues of morality and global values we need to start with the moral values inside ourselves, each one of us. Now that is difficult.
You find that people who are deprived of their external securities feel emotionally naked and go through a person crisis, often a burn out or worse. They get in touch with their own inner emptiness and lack of self esteem. All those people want to get back as quickly as possible to a material wealthy position in order to feel happy again. The entire economy of a nation or a business is built around this.
People become a robot in a system. They are not their authentic selves but instrument to a surroundings that has conditioned them to act according to the rules of that society. One has become a number, not a human being anymore.
That has been the case for many decades now in the entire Western world and is also happening in China now. But it is changing. Crisis after crisis is touching now people individually. The very first reaction is one of fear as chaos upsets their lives. People try to get back to their comfort zone. Governments did by pumping loads of money into a corrupt system.
As crisis keep reappearing people start to think again for themselves. The get in tough with their authentic selves, not their greed and external wealth. Getting people to feel rich and happy without any material wealth in these times is tough. People just want more and more, not because they need it but out of fear of losing it. So when they loose it all the first reaction is of fear and insecurity but then awareness appears in the form of enlightenment.
Suddenly people notice the emptiness inside and discover the power of the spirituality that they have neglected for so long. Some people are overwhelmed by it, some negatively others positively. But what everyone who goes through this process discovers is his or her true self, whether they like what they encounter or not. It is this true and authentic self that gives you a drive and purpose in life and can only be discovered when digging deep into the emotions of being. Only then people realize they represent their own universe and become capable of building their column of true values to reach out to a universe full of enlightend people.
The authentic self is the unique identity that is the fundament of your life. It can be found deep inside you. It represents what you truly ARE, not what you have.
Next blog: second level of the column of values – safety