Monday, May 25th, 2020

A State of Transition: Reopening America One Person at a Time

Published on May 8, 2020 by   ·   No Comments Pin It
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One of my favorite songs about the relationship we as people have to life itself is John Legend’s “We Are Just Ordinary People”. 

To me, it speaks to the humanity we all have within us and how we could not only give each other a break, but ourselves as well. Because we put a TON of responsibility on ourselves to be the BEST mother, sister, father, son, parent, friend, co-worker, boss, neighbor and everything else under the sun, we tend to want to make sure things are done “right!” 

But what happens when the “right thing” at the “wrong time” still ends up being the “wrong thing?” This is what we as Americans are faced with today. What is the “right thing to do?” 

Well, that all depends on the individual and what they are experiencing. What’s right for you may not be what’s right for me. It may not fit my desire, wants, needs, narrative, values, and vice versa. But, they WILL align with someone! Another friend, daily member, people on Facebook, someone in political office – confirmation bias is real! 

So how do we come to an agreement? 

By sharing a common enemy. People LOVE to rally together and stand side by side fighting for the same cause. They will lock arms and damn the opposition together in total allegiance. This can be done in fun, like rooting against your sport’s team rival and it can be done in a not so fun fashion, like antagonizing the opposite political party. 

Remember 9/11? Common enemy, shared sentiments, and a TON of empathy spread throughout the nation. That tragedy COMMANDED our attention AND got it! 

That was a seen enemy. One that threatened our lives. One that said, “Hey America, you’re not THAT tough after all are you?” 

As people, we band against enemies that threaten our life and our way of existing. So why is it that we are divided as a nation against this unseen enemy? Why are there, what seems to be two distinct groups of people? 

Group A: those who oppose those who say stay home Group B: those who oppose those who say open up 

It’s because we all have more in common than we think and it’s not the common enemy we share that binds us, but the needs, wants, desires and basic innate instincts that do. 

I have a firm belief that we all want to feel a sense of peace, security, joy and freedom. We also need to feel valued, cared for, appreciated, and have a voice. On top of both those wants/needs, we are instinctively wired with a set of instincts that motivate us to survive, protect, AND celebrate. 

A State of Transition: Reopening America One Person at a Time

A State of Transition: Reopening America One Person at a Time

ME & YOU, YOUR MOMMA & YOUR COUSIN TOO 

Just as we all need, want and desire similar things, we all behave in similar fashion instinctually. It’s why we celebrate birthdays and weddings. It’s why we say congratulations when someone we know announces their pregnancy. It’s why we celebrate graduates. 

We celebrate life as an instinct! 

Why do we mourn the loss of our loved ones or offer condolences to people we know who did? Why is it that we are devastated to learn about the death of a child? 

We protect innocence and respect loss as an instinct as well. 

SURVIVAL verse HARDSHIP 

This has everything to do with our flight or fight mechanism and its main job is to keep us alive, heck, even a gnat does what it can to escape a swift swipe from a hand! When push comes to shove (life verse death) we subconsciously “choose” life. 

Life/Death experiences. This is a lot different than going through a hardship. Nobody chooses hardship! They just kind of happen “to us”. We do our best to NOT experience a hardship and choose to make decisions that keep them from us (and sometimes we don’t). 

We have a choice to choose how we can work our way out of a current hardship and be better prepared for future ones. We don’t choose our survival instincts. Those are hard wired reflexes. 

Death leaves no choice for examination, Death is permanent. There is no coming back from death. You can come back from addiction, bankruptcy, divorce, jail time, a fight with your kids, etc. You cannot defeat death. 

So that is an agreed upon fact we all have. Some people CAN bounce back better than others, but the opportunity to bounce back is lost in death. 

DEATH of the EGO 

Here is something else we all share. An ego. And in this ego, the temperament of “I’m right, you’re wrong” or “I win, you lose” dwells. In order to be able to be OK with someone else being right, you will have to DIE UNTO YOURSELF and eliminate the “what’s solely in it for me”. 

WIIFM – What’s in it solely for me (I win, you lose) I don’t care who dies, I need money to feed my family. If it’s me or you, it’s going to be you 

WIIFMY– What’s in it for me first, you second (You can win, but NOT at the expense of me) I hope that no-one dies, but I need to make money for my family. Maybe you can stay home and I work? 

WIIFY – What’s in it for you ( I want you to win, don’t worry about me, I’m good) I have saved money, I work from home, or I will figure it out, I am more concerned about your well- being. How can I help you? 

WIIFU – What’s in it for us (Let’s BOTH win, if not, let’s play a different game) How can we re-open in the most effective way taking in the consideration of lives or others, the front line workers, AND making sure that we minimize the financial strain? 

In this OPEN NOW verse STAY HOME drama, which one acronym above do you find yourself in? 

No matter where you find yourself, I can guarantee that when BOTH sides win, it bodes for a happier, healthier communal relationship. It creates more peace, security, joy, connectedness, brotherhood, purpose. 

This is NOT what is being experienced in the now. Those who demand their freedoms NOT to be infringed on and do not want to adhere to the slow reopening are coming from the WIIFM AND the WIIFU perspectives. “I said open up” and “they also say open up” so “we all agree” that opening up is the BEST thing to do (to prevent our hardship). 

Now, hardships CAN INDEED feel like death or even provoke one to take their life, BUT, that decision to END one’s life is theirs alone. 

A TIME OF TESTING 

“Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.” – Phillip Brooks 

Americans find beauty in strength. American Muscle! America Stron! America the Beautiful! 

Well if that is the case then, then it is each person’s “duty” to contribute. 

If we ALL want peace, security, joy, and happiness AND want others to experience that as well, then there needs to be something we can ALL agree to hang our hat on to make that happen, even through tough times! 

Ready for that thing? Obedience. Gahhhhh, scary! 

“A person has not shown true obedience if he or she has never had the opportunity to disobey.” 

I know I know, obedience is in direct violation of our free will and as adults, nobody has the audacity to tell us what to and what not to obey. This type of response, although understandable, is short sighted at best. Just like we obey the laws of gravity and physics and wouldn’t jump from heights that would kill us (survival), we ought to learn how to utilize obedience in all facets of our lives, ESPECIALLY when it involves others. 

No discipline (obedience) seems pleasant at the time. It can actually seem painful. However, when you hunker down and practice self-control, empathy, and patience, then you will produce a harvest that will bear fruit, i.e. life and all the wonderful feelings and outcomes we all want from it. Discipline and the desire to obey can be cultivated at any time, and that time is NOW, and was WAY before now. 

If the collective cry of the “open now folks” is that businesses will shut down, jobs will be lost, homes will be crushed, mental health is threatened, then that is very, very unfortunate. That must feel like a “real threat” and a “slow death”. But it’s NOT death. 

They say everything happens for a “reason”. I believe that everything happens for a “decision”. The discipline it takes to make a series of decisions that would set you up financially for 3 – 6 months just in case you couldn’t work for whatever reason needed to be cultivated years ago. Not in 2020, not in 2019, years ago. 

If one wants to take it a step further, and create the type of wealth that they can afford to LIVE and GIVE to help support others on hard times, then that takes even MORE discipline, foresight AND empathy. 

“Each moment gives you the opportunity to show you who you are, and gives you the chance to decide if that’s who you want to be.” 

You are the President, the Mayor, the Governor, the Captain, the King, the Queen, the CEO of your life. Each decision you make to put yourself in a position to be ok and help others get through hardships starts whenever you want it to. 

So what will it take to prepare better NEXT time? What sacrifices will need to be made? What disciplines will need to be put in place? Whatever the next steps are, at least you will be alive to make them. 

Tough times don’t last, tough people do. American strong! 

Christopher M. Jackson is part owner of Coaching and Counseling in Connecticut. He and his wife run an online hybrid coaching and counseling practice that specializes in anxiety, conflict resolution, communication and relationship building for professionals both at work and home.

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