Monthly Archives: September 2015

A Map To The Future is through Community


It’s been said people reflect the environment they’re exposed to. This is particularly true at times when we are more emotionally excited. We remember trauma more so than the much more abundant time periods of the mundane. As children we’re in a perpetual state of excitation and wonder. As children, while we don’t have the wherewithal to absorb and retain the shaping events in the context of words, these events are nonetheless a powerful influence on the way we think and act later on.

We have a tendency to drape the cultural values and experiences we’re baptized in as a veil over our eyes and then use that veil as the filter through which we see each other and the world. A well traveled or deliberate individual might occasionally breach the veil and cross the cultural divide, at least intellectually, to see a bit of the common threads that weave together humanity. This is one such attempt, to understand the current state of our global culture and perhaps glimpse at some of the unrealized opportunity we may have at our disposal. With that understanding , perhaps we might dare to dabble our collective oar in the currents in which we ride to steer toward a more fulfilled state of being.

A coral community with a concentration of Madracis decactis on top of one of the pinnacles at Stetson Bank.

It is not beyond the pale to recognize that mankind has historically had to both literally and figuratively fight against nature in order to survive at times. In desperate times, this spawned the need to commit the most profane acts of cruelty and dehumanizing degradation, and over time this temporary necessity became inseparably intertwined with our collective cultural identity. Disease, predators, natural disasters and climate catastrophes came to be seen in some circles as things needed to be dominated in order to survive. This fight against nature was particularly pronounced in cultures that had to navigate harsher climates, endure famines and the like.

The same way an individual reflects the expressions of their local environment, cultures tend to reflect the environment they exist in and have been exposed to over time. The harsher climates some of us endured, spawned cultural reflections of themselves in the form of parasitic and predatory values that affected in the way we saw the world and each other. It shaped our myths, our cultural values and the relationship dynamic by which we pulsed – and these cultures that were refined in the fires of adversity became the warrior class of mankind. Although it has morphed into something far afield of its original appearance on the human cultural scene, war may have been spawned as a survival mechanism during desperate times. When we perceive our survival as being under threat, we opt to fight or take flight as a reaction. These fight and flight behaviors are an apt description of much of our history. Not everyone, everywhere, but as a trend, those with the capacity to dominate came to associate dominating nature, and each other, with “natural right” and “progress” – as the means of making a living on a cultural level.

The dominators came to dominate even those that didn’t have any need nor desire to live as expressions of fear – those that apply maximum pressure to nature’s bounty – that use exploitation on the altar of dehumanization to vacuum value toward the few at the expense of the many – those that sacrifice the future for the sake of the now and scorch the very earth that feeds them were born in these fires of adversity or carried on the cultural currents of those that spread these dominating values. The people who lived more in harmony with the body of life were eventually swallowed by those of us that developed concepts like property, debt, government, society, and duty as the means of establishing the false comfort of ownership and the false safety of the upper echelons of hierarchical safety. Expending societal skin to pleasure themselves…

life-sustaining river contaminated

Zayandeh-rood, a critical and life-sustaining river contaminated by oil, industrial wastes and chemicals illegally dumped in it

All of this dominance has not come without a cost. In beating back nature to continue existing, and then holding on to that fierce ritual of domination as a means of existing, we have sacrificed a portion of the spirit of life for the sake of the ritual of existence. We have deadened the opportunity of authentic relationship by staying prepared for the disaster we fear lurks in the shadows – that disaster we have come to expect and that we have also come to cultivate on our social landscape – and in so doing we have robbed ourselves of our own nature. Every organ in our body must willingly contribute something of nourishing value in the context of the community it exists in order for the body to maintain its integrity. Biology, at its core, is a gift economy, not a parasitic and predatory one. Each cell and organ in a body of any size lives in and depends on the rest of the community to share value for the sake of the collective being it depends on for life. In the long run it is a community principle that sustains us, not a dominance one. When the entire community operates on an economy based on sharing nourishing values with each other, we experience the comfort of community as well as the exhilaration of being able to navigate at our peak. Parasitic and predatory behaviors may be necessary to negotiate acute and terrible circumstances, but as a way of life, they become self destructive.

We now live in the echoes of a cultural tragedy of the commons – in the midst of treacherous waters where the social currency is aligned more with the notion that “If I do not participate in the harsh and dehumanizing coin of the realm, then I will be swallowed. I must exploit, I must dominate, I must compete, or I will be dominated.” In so acquiescing to the banality of evil stitched into the fabric of our cultural memory we have lost touch with the fact that cultivating the fullness of life requires we have a community and not a culture of exploitation – a community where we cultivate each others values instead of attempt to cease, dominate, and consume them. Although desperate times call for desperate measures, it is also true that we must gravitate back to our true nature lest we become the cause of the very thing we rail against. The dominator can become a victim of its own success – dominated by domination like a snake that eats its own tail. We must recognize that our tribe is earth, and our people are us – all of us – we must recognize that our body is the whole body of life – and that body is the Earth itself – it is not this local eddy of relationships we call our individual body. Our strength and our life depends on our capacity to express the community principle. The fullness any one of us can attain is contingent on what we collectively express in terms of community values. Every “I am” is because “we are”.

We need a world that recognizes the opportunity expressed through nature. We need a world that sees wealth as a function of giving to each other and cultivating nourishing relationships throughout the environment that lead to more life giving nourishment – and not from the seizure and demand from each other and the stripping of the environment. We need to use our individual voice in this choir – to sing that tune. To live in the context of a community that cultivates the fullness of life through sharing our best with each other. As a reward for this expression, we get to live in a world that cultivates our fullest experience of life and not one that keeps us beneath the threshold of our full potential. It is a self interested act to live by the community principle – to cultivate community. Our biological economy speaks to the validity of our own need to cultivate community through its structure. We need to contribute to the larger body of life in which we live and on which we depend in order for us to exist at all. Together we are one body of life. Divided we cultivate our own poverty.

If we were to do a sincere autopsy on the cause of our current predicament, we would not be able to trace blame to those that currently acquiesce to the “system” as it stands. Those of us that dominate are a cultural echo of fear, or a direct unwitting victim that cultivates an experience of life beneath the threshold of its full potential. We can become vectors of poverty, but not the cause. We would have to trace blame largely to a mindless conspiracy of environmental circumstances, accumulated over the years, which we now subliminally reflect and onto which we overlay our linguistic abstractions. As a global culture we reflect the full tapestry of our environmental experiences and perpetuate these on our social landscape as blindly as the dung beetle rolls it ball of waste across the dirt – we are a cultural expression of our phyletic memory – our cultural genetics were forged in the primordial soup of environmental circumstance.

Photo Credit,

We are social creatures by nature. We hunger for intimate nourishing community. It is our nature, it is the principle on which we sustain ourselves. Our need for intimacy with air, nourishing food and water sources, and the need to process and eliminate those entities in ways that benefit other life forms speaks to the interdependent community of life in which we live, and on which we depend for life. Our very structure is an expression of our nature. Should we choose to see it as the guide by which we might live, and through which we can thrive, we will act in service of our own best interest. To serve the community is to serve ourselves. We have yet to fully realize that our local community is Earth, and that we need to have a vested interest in each others success and well being to realize the full flower of that opportunity that exists in the context of the real government under which we all live – the laws of nature. To violate these laws, or to do anything less is to become the author of our own poverty and perhaps our own extinction. What has led to where we are will not take us forward. Like any womb, the thing that nourishes us to a certain point will strangle us if we do not emerge into the next paradigm of existence.

Each of us that understands the community principle as the way to nourish our future must do what we can to cultivate a wider expressions of this. Those of us on the cusp of this new paradigm of awareness must cultivate more tangible expressions. To move forward, we must integrate the community principle into our personal, community, business, governmental and environmental values. We can become authors of our collective wealth if, and only if, we recognize our individual potential depends on how much we collectively nourish the community of life in which we live, and on which we depend for life.

Be well.

The Role of Trust In Relationships


*Note* Psychology, philosophy, economics, systems theory, etc. each have their own specific emphasis on the idea of trust. This outline loosely uses the social science lens, which deals with the position and role of trust in social systems. In other words, how trust affects human social relationships.

The Role of Trust In Relationships:

There’s no doubt that trust plays a crucial role in relationships. Trust, ranging from a completely broken trust to total trust is at the center of what defines social relationships. Businesses work hard to cultivate real and perceived trust. Their livelihood depends on trust, as do all relationships. Social relationships at all levels use the currency of trust to define the nature of relationships. Broken trusts are the cornerstone of high stress, warring, avoidance, and failed relationships while confident trust can cultivate a profound depth in the relationship bond that could be characterized as oneness -a trust that no longer needs to apply energy to question, but is sustained on the virtue of each party looking for the others needs and actively seeking to meet them.

It’s difficult to construct a accurate spectrum of trust for a number of reasons. One of these is the fact that there is a sender and a receiver as well as a perception and a reality in social settings. These do not always align. This confused mixture is a fertile ground for misplaced trust either toward too much or too little. Some are skilled at cultivating the appearance of trust or creating a sense of obligation to trust rather than the activities that produce a well founded reality that warrants trust. Depending on the effectiveness of the deceit, this false image can result in many a parasitic and predatory behavior that echoes long past the initial betrayal. We can develop suspicions due to past experiences that we project falsely into current or future situations. This can cause an inability to trust which in turn can cause other issues such as the pain of self inflicted social isolation. The bottom line, trust is a complicated climate that would take quite a bit of effort to unpack. This work only deals with a useful model of understanding in general how various levels of trust impacts relationships.

This model uses four levels of trust to present a picture of the lowest to the highest form. They are as follows: Deterrence, Calculated, Knowledge based and identity trust.

Trust in deterrence is the lowest level of trust. It is a deterrence based trust. It depends the credible threat of force and or punishment if something expected in not done. Slaves that fear being whipped as motivation for working is an example. People who obey the laws aligned with cultivating social order out of fear of the consequence rather than a commitment to that social order have a deterrent based trust. The fact that there is another way of relating to such laws is irrelevant. The individual or group sets the tone for how behaviors are motivated. If belief in consequence is the motivator that compels behavior, there is no commitment, there is only compliance. Deterrent based

Calculated Trust is based in projections and promises along with perhaps some facts such as reputation. It is a decision to engage in relationship based on a cost/benefit analysis, weighing the potential benefit of creating and sustaining the relationship against the projected cost. Generally, both parties are looking for some gain which the proposed partnership could yield, but deterrence is still a factor. If at any time if the cost is perceived as outweighing the benefit, the relationship is terminated. In this case, the party that perceives the harm must also be willing to follow through on severing otherwise the relationship shifts from trust to abuse. Engaging in a optional business relationship is an example of calculated trust. A partnership forged on mutual needs like the that found in danger situations, mountain climbing or certain critical business partnerships. Generally speaking calculated trust relationships can be fertile soil for higher trust in relationships to grow from.

Knowledge Trust can emerge out of calculation based trust once enough information from experience emerges. Predictability comes from a relationship over time. If that is seen to be of advantage, knowledge-based trust emerges. Control in the form of threats of deterrence diminish as more authentic trust bonds emerge. Less energy is applied to verification and more is applied to accelerating the potential that comes from sharing each others’ strengths. TIN is the range within the spectrum of trust relationships where the relational emphasis can shift from compliance to commitment. Both parties can begin to apply their full energies toward take advantage of each others strengths. This is where the full potential of emergent value can arise. (Where one party brings line, the other brings hooks ,so both can now fish.) Emergent values are those where the outcome is more than the sum of its parts.

Identification Trust happens when the relationship is fully committed – where both parties understand and fully endorse one another. Each acts as an agent for the others’ interests in a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. Identification Trust relationships are demonstrated by autonomous committed behaviors carried out by all parties. No one has to ask necessarily, each party inquires about the others needs and responds by actively seeking to meet them. The relationship is no longer based on promises, it is a fully realized intimacy. At this stage, if one party is hurt, the other feels the pain. Secrets evaporate in this climate because they are no longer necessary as a means of protection. The boundaries between the parties disappear as all parties assume a common identity. Co-location, joint development of products and services, shared vision, values, goals and the like are possible in this high trust climate. Compliance based on elements of deterrence disappear and full commitment defines the relationship.

In Summary:

The lowest form of trust is deterrence. Relationships based on deterrence are motivated by the fear of punishment for non compliance. Next up is relationships based on calculation. These use a cost-benefit analysis with a deterrence factor where the relationship will break down if the benefit is not realized. Next is relationships based on knowledge. These emerge from a calculated relationship once enough information from experience emerges. Knowledge is where the relational emphasis can shift from compliance to commitment. Both parties can begin to apply their full energies toward take advantage of each others strengths. Relationships based on identification happens when the relationship is fully committed – where both parties act as agents for the others’ interests. No one has to ask, each party is interested in the others needs and actively seeks to meet them.

What are your relationships based on? Do you think you have a realistic view of the trust you should place? Are you authentic? How does integrity play in a field where there are well skilled posers? What do you think we can do to improve the climate of trust? What impact do you think this would this have on the world?