Monday, 11 December 2017

C Columns

Challenging Faith: My Russian collusion (with writers, that is)

 By Joel Lund

 

It Began Innocently Enough

One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from a Russian. Since reading it in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot” years ago, it has stayed with me as the most comprehensive and challenging truth assertion I’ve ever encountered in a novel:

Don’t let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them.

And since reading “The Idiot,” I have colluded with Russians. Well, Russian writers, anyway. And to my knowledge, those are the only Russians I’ve had any interactions with(for the benefit of the NSA).

Embrace Your Inner Politick?

It wasn’t that many years ago that the world existed without Facebook. Or Twitter. Or any other kind of “social media.” Now, it’s virtually impossible to use those avenues of communicating without being subjected to the Body Politick. [Sorry, I just took a moment to exhale a looooong, sad sigh.]

I suppose it’s inaccurate — laughably so — to refer to “Body Politick” because there’s not just one. Now there are countless bodies. And this is not a good thing. Originally, “body politic” (the correct spelling, by the way) meant simply “a group of persons politically organized under a single governmental authority.” In other words, it originally meant “nation.” Now it’s about “wrong,” “deluded,” “racist,” “stupid”...and words that don’t bear repeating here.

Least we think that the United States is the only country fracturing into many little nations of body politick, frenzied and antagonistic to all the others, Canada and many European countries are facing this same turbulence of violent politick.

Capture the Kraken

In my last article I addressed the growing challenge of engaging in this social-media-fueled world we live in without “releasing the Kraken,” a giant sea creature of ancient legend. Like the Kraken, empowered by its alien rage, the various Body Politicks seem to have an endless supply of rage, hatred and ferocity directed at those thatdo not ascribe to their worldview.

Consequently, just this year we’ve seen mass shootings, bombings, terrorist attacks, and national saber rattling, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Vietnam.

Pretty depressing, right?

As people of faith, what is an appropriate response to this? While I do not have access to all the answers to the hard questions people ask, I do have access to the Answer. And happily, so do you.

Three Secrets to Taming the Kraken

Perspective

First, it’s crucial to be clear on where all of the anger is coming from. It’s a strong emotion. Many people have trouble with it...with feeling it, with feeling out of control because of it, or with dealing with it when others’ express it. According to Brené Brown, it is liberating to recognize that anger is often the expression of a much stronger emotion: fear. And fear is most often flying under our consciousness. What are we, the body politicks, most fearful of? Scarcity. Not having enough. Not being enough. Not powerful enough.

In “Daring Greatly,” Brown writes that the greatest cultural influence of our time is “our culture of scarcity” and that we see evidence of it now every day:

...the environment that not only explains what everyone is calling a narcissism epidemic, but also provides a panoramic view of the thoughts, behaviors, and emotions that are slowly changing who we are and how we live, love, work, lead, parent, govern, teach and connect with one another.

Fear, powered by an unchallenged belief that you’re not (fill in blank) enough, has become the tail wagging the dog. What are you most afraid of? Let’s assume for a moment that every single angry person in Social Media Land (and everywhere else)...is actually afraid. Is your fear more worthy than theirs? Is their anger going to win you over? Why would your anger win them over?

Composure

Second, it’s crucial to self-monitor. When our emotions are stirred up to the boiling point, it is all too easy and common to fall hostage to them. Like a single lightning strike can eventually consume thousands of acres, so our anger seeks to sustain itself on nearby fuel.

So, how much fuel do you have stored up? I’ve seen friends on Facebook going at it, one trying to convey a viewpoint that’s not common these days, while the other interpretshis meaning so narrowly that there can’t be mutual understanding. Are you listening to others or reflexively snapping back? If your inclination is to snap back, your fear is wagging you. It’s time to build an emotional firebreak.

Compassion

Third, it’s crucial to remember that we have much more in common than not. And oncewe allow ourselves to look through a lens that asserts that truth, we’re able to connect. We’re able to listen. We’re able to see the fear in the other and feel compassion for them. For we know how terrible that feels. Are you open to looking through the eyes of another’s fear?

Russian Collusions for Peace

Dostoyevsky nailed it. We do well to internalize that “the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them.” There are reasons beyond what we can see that explain why people might believe/express/protest something that we don’t. Go ahead, collude with Dostoyevsky, because internalizing this truth increases our empathy. So does adding more perspective. If you haven’t yet, make a point of seeing the PBS miniseries, “Vietnam.” It provides an astonishing lens for understanding current events.

Finally, the Answer meets our deepest anxieties and massive scarcity bias. Gently, we’re called to boldly greet Abundance. From Isaiah 41:10:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Let not your heart be troubled. Rather, act as an ambassador of compassion. Collude for perspective. Be the voice of composure. Dare greatly, empowered by the Answer whoupholds you.

Joel Lund is a certified master coach and business marketing expert. Are you a business owner? Check out his newest enterprise, PurposeDrivenAcademy.com, an online business accelerator. Owners and entrepreneurs using the academy quickly break through to higher revenues, with less work and more fun. Download his (free) simple 10-step guide for living with more purpose and joy: www.prepareforrain.com/ebook.

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