Archive for the ‘cooperation’ Tag

FUNNY HOW THINGS HAPPEN!   7 comments

I avoided writing here for a while for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve been happily busy and second, because I like to keep my entries simple, and life – mine anyway – has become complex. Yes, really, complex though simple.

First off, I haven’t been away from home here at the Waters since March 8 – sequestered with all the residents to protect against COVID-19, basically confined to my lovely first floor apartment. Meals delivered, Zoom activities provided, trash and recycling removed from outside my door, walks around the patio that surrounds my home on the southeast corner. Watching the plantings green up and blossom. I’ve missed out on the planned cruise with Doug to Kiev and area, lots of theater and concerts, and planned family activities. FUNNY HOW THINGS HAPPEN!. I am happy as a clam with the opportunity to finish the editing of My Father’s House in cooperation with Susan Thurston Hamerski working for Calumet publishers And too the almost finalizing of It sucks! I wanted to live (tentative title) by Nick Spooner. Basically the collection of his Facebook entries from the time of his glial blastoma (or two) diagnosis until his death. I never would have had the time if I’d been on my planned schedule.

On our recent cruise to Japan we noticed that just about everyone was comfortably wearing a face mask. Male or female, walking, driving, scootering, motorcycling, bicycling, dressed with black suits or attractive dresses, carrying briefcases, or more casual in doing daily chores. On a previous Asia Pacific cruise we had concluded the masks were to protect against the intense smog. More recently the smog had largely lifted but the masks remained. FUNNY HOW THINGS HAPPEN! I talked constantly about the opportunity for someone to produce designer masks. Just take a look around now.

When I was teaching the psychology of women at Southern Connecticut State University back in the 1970’s we used to imagine a future where people could work from home making possible the combination of career with parenting. FUNNY HOW THINGS HAPPEN!.

These days I shed tears a lot. FUNNY HOW THINGS HAPPEN!. The tears don’t come when I’m sad. No, when I’m touched by folks caring for others in heroic ways or just plain cooperation and kindness, as in wearing a face mask and keeping distance, or singing and applauding from the balconies. I’m touched by the virtual celebration of high school and college 2020 grads. This morning I watched the distance celebration of the Connecticut College class of 2020. Yesterday with some time left over I worked at organizing my photographs, encountering Connecticut College friends from our early days to the many years of gatherings at Cape Cod. And family from birth to now. I am overwhelmed with the sense of love and friendship and being part of history. I know that what’s going on currently is as big as – maybe even bigger than – the industrial revolution. The tears reflect my hope, I think, that we will emerge with a commitment to cleaner skies, fairer education and living standards, Just plain more love.

FUNNY HOW THINGS HAPPEN!. I don’t cry when mean things make me sad. Maybe it’s hard to be mad and sad at the same time. The contrasts! Oh the contrasts between my comfort and the terrible misery of so many others. It’s been a long time since I gave up my childlike belief in Hell, but about a week ago it struck me that even if I feared hell I should fear no more, because we’re here now. If I believed in reincarnation, I’d be worried that I’d suffer in my next life to make up for all the happiness I have now.

And sometimes, like my father many years before me, I’m glad I’m living the end of my journey.

FUNNY HOW THINGS HAPPEN!. With all that, I can’t help waking each day with gratitude – and chest expanding love for my family and friends. And the opportunity to feel safe about being up front here with all of you.

See what I mean? This is too long.

SEMINAR CONTINUED: RECONCILIATION – WHY?   4 comments

Now that we’re thinking about it, what is reconciliation anyway? The answer to “why” depends first of all on knowing what reconciliation means in the particular case. My thesaurus has some interesting answers, the first of which is “Settlement.” Under that it lists the following as equivalents for “reconciliation:”

  • Understanding
  • Resolution
  • Compromise
  • Reunion
  • Ceasefire
  • Appeasement
  • Bringing together
  • The opposite of Conflict

I think this list is as good as any as a jumping off point to answer the question “Why?” Why strive for reconciliation?

I’d like first to focus on “settlement.” Yes, I know the definition refers originally to money settlement, the payment of debts. But I’m choosing to take the psychological/emotional route. Reconciliation doesn’t even become an issue until something unsettling, disturbing, stressful happens, or creeps into one’s awareness. It’s the feeling that someone else owes you something and refuses to pony up. How quickly do we get to “He owes me an apology, or a change of attitude, or cooperation, – or at least an explanation.” If such is not forthcoming, there’s a good chance anger will follow. How good it would feel to get even – to tell the offender off. How about a nice angry e-mail? “There. That’s settled.”

But is it really? What about the recipient who, chances are, will not be happy to receive that hurtful anger? Would it really be enough just to make the other guy unhappy? Nope. There’s no settlement there. Just an increase in the pain total. Settlement and stress reduction and pain relief won’t follow.

So, why reconciliation? One potential reason, because unilateral vengeance won’t make the pain go away – unless, of course, one enjoys another’s distress. They call that sadism.

And, of course, there’s no opportunity to receive the apology or explanation if other people have been turned off, or the reciprocal desire to hurt gets turned on.

Conclusion, reconciliation requires a genuine desire to reduce distress. Something more than one-sided spewing of anger is needed for settlement. It seems to me that’s where “understanding” comes in.

Oh, but now what does “understanding” mean?

Or maybe it’s not anger that erupts, but despair that depresses. “I give up. There’s nothing more I can do.” Maybe settlement can’t happen between living people. Maybe the other person isn’t willing, or isn’t even capable of responding, as in having an issue with someone who has completed the earthly journey. Maybe the settlement can only be internal.

“Understanding” can still help. The stress can still be reduced. Next time I’d like to introduce “Jennies rule.”

In the meantime, are some of you willing to give examples of what “settlement” would mean to you?

 

 

THE SCIENCE OF HUMAN GOODNESS   12 comments

Many years ago now, my friend and colleague Barbara McEwen, a physiological psychologist,  made me aware that I didn’t fully understand the meaning of “The Survival of the Fittest.” Like so many people, I thought it meant that the winners were the ones who managed to beat the competition and pass on their genetic material. Barb pointed out that cooperation is every bit as important as competition, evoking my reaction of “Of course, why didn’t I know that,”

Sadly, Barb is no longer with us to see the influence of people like her. But, fortunately, scientists are now exploring the implications of humanity’s cooperative side, with an emphasis on human goodness. Right now I’m reading a collection of articles by scientists who are exploring this side of humanity. They don’t deny what we can’t avoid seeing — the competitive side of our heritage. But it’s not the only side. (In fact, right now it seems to me that’s the major battle going on politically and throughout the world: selfish competition vs. compassionate cooperation.}

The book to which I am referring is edited by Dacher Keltner and Jason Marsh,”The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness.”It’s a selection of articles from the magazine “The Greater Good.” It’s one of three magazine I need in my life to offer the positives over the noise and stress of today’s communications.

I’m not going to review the book here, or try to summarize the kinds of things that have been studied. I just want to mention two of them: gratitude and forgiveness.

As for gratitude, I’d like, ironically, to start a competition. Who can provide the longest list of things for which one is grateful.

As for forgiveness, I’m going to break down and summarize, bit by bit, the content of my own “Forgiving One Page at a Time.”

So be prepared, I’m about to start compiling my own gratitude list and share the numbers, not necessarily the content.

Forgiveness will be next.

Tell me, does that sound like a good plan?

 

GERUNDS, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER, AND “YES.”   5 comments

Yesterday I called my sister to wish her a happy birthday. In the conversation I said something like,” I’d like to talk about gerunds.” Her response was immediate and enthusiastic, loosely quoted, “It makes me furious.” There was no need to explain my intention. So when did it become correct to say “”I appreciate you coming with me,” instead of “I appreciate your coming with me?” Obviously it’s now acceptable, but when did it happen? My sister, the former teacher and MFA, can explain in detail the new relationship. As she pointed out, we learned the gerund rule way back in grammar school but we have to accept that language usage changes, even though it causes ear pain. I for one, though, expect to continue saying, “I appreciate your coming.”

But then, what does it really matter when the cover of the “Intelligence Report” from the Southern Poverty Law Center says “The Year in Hate and Extremism: The ‘Patriot’ Movement Explodes” and spells out in the interior contents the details of growing racism, hate, and consequent violence.

In the same reading session, however, I found an article in “Yes” magazine where Frances Moore Lappe says “A new way of seeing that is opening up to us can form a more life-saving mental map. I call it ‘eco-mind’ — looking at the world through the lens of ecology. This worldview recognizes that we, no less than any other organism, live in relation to everything else.” Gong on, she elaborates six inherent traits we can foster, once we learn to navigate the world with the map of eco-mind.

1)    Cooperation

2)    Empathy

3)    Fairness

4)    Efficacy

5)    Meaning

6)    Imagination, Creativity, and attraction to change.

Pages 12-15, Yes” Spring 2012. www.yesmagazine.org

I want to believe those traits will overcome hate. But then, I didn’t say I expect they will.

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