February 29th, 2008
Our fingerprints and faces tell us we are each “sui generis,” (one-of-a-kind), although most of us were raised to conform to, and plug into, a social structure, rather than encouraged to discover and display our distinctive gifts.
I often imagine a world of people brought up to shine as one-of-a-kind, creative expressions of humanity and wonder what such a world would be like. Each child would be approached with utter curiosity and a sense of reverence for the unforeseen gifts they might bring to both family and society. Their sui generis idiosyncracies would be nurtured by parents, teachers, leaders and the culture at large.
Would this approach help to bring about whole and fulfilled people, people who feel unashamed, confident, and appreciated for who they truly are?
Most kids have jumping-for-joy natures, abounding life energies and strong emotions. Yet, their unusual thoughts and insights, self-love, love of pleasure and of life are considered, at best, adorable in the cute way, rather than the worthy-of-adoration way. They are asked, in so many instances, to conform to what’s expected of them, to apply themselves to finding their place (a.s.a.p.!) in existing models, roles and societal structures, rather than to engender new systems and create new forms.
We may, in fact, be asking children to thwart their natural love of life to better fit into a system that is stressful, unhealthy and inhumane. Young people, whose heart-intelligence and innate compassion are still very much in tact, are one day treated to a movie about how sweet and wonderful penguins are and the next day informed of the destruction of the penguin habitat due to human profligacy. What tools do we provide them for dealing with their feelings about such ironies and inconsistencies?
When children object to societal emotional confusion, in their immature sui generis way, their rebellions are often attacked, shamed, undermined. I recently witnessed a young boy of about seven with his mother in front of a fish counter at Whole Foods. I saw him looking up at her and overheard her say, dismissively, unwilling to look down to meet his eyes, "There are plenty of fish in the sea, Johnny; it’s perfectly fine for us to eat them."
The point is not the fish here, the point is this boy’s heart and how his mother responded to his heart’s cry. And we wonder how the steep rise of childhood mental health disorders, and all the consequences associated with them, could be happening in such a wonderful place as the suburbs of the United States!
The erroneously attributed Chinese dish named Chop Suey is a bland, overcooked, and unpalatable dish of cheap, canned vegetables and water chestnuts held together with corn starch, invented in America and passed off as Chinese.
Do American adults turn their children into Chop Sui, while worrying that the Chinese are taking away their opportunities and wealth, spoiling their American Dream?! Would the children, if they knew what the choices were in our world, even choose the values of the American Dream?
The futurist author Daniel Pink details Six Senses needed in the coming generations in his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers Will Rule the Future. These senses are Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning. I believe Empathy is the most important one of these senses to encourage and develop in the lives of children. Empathy is the ability to feel what another is feeling, to really meet other people and other creatures where they live, so to speak. Just imagine what a world this would be if empathy were an aptitude highly developed and prized in society at large, right from the way children are conceived, carried and birthed!
Imagine how that value of tenderness and care would naturally change the nature and aptitudes of their imaginations and contribute to the sensitivities of their other senses. And extend this imagining to how the products and services that drive the economy would also, organically, change in response to increased and concerted empathy in mass culture.
Imagine how a robust sense of empathy would influence the questions each individual would be asking about society; such as: Just what are we putting ourselves in service to? Are our enterprises honest and caring? How are we making and interpreting meaning in our educational and media presentations? How are we putting all the informational pieces of our society together? What are our fundamental narratives about? What are we designing and for what purposes?
In the presence of pervasive and abiding empathy, all our activities are in service to a healthier, more integrated way of life. And, I might dare to add, true empathy is what makes it possible for the sui generis nature of each face, each individual, each living thing, to truly shine and be held dear.
©2008 Jari Chevalier
February 19th, 2008
Living Hero is pleased to present an interview with author and futurist Daniel Pink
• The increasing value of right brain skills and capacities • The global forces giving rise to A Whole New Mind • The one cognitive skill common among corporate star performers • Reckoning with unfulfillment • Dan’s own creative process and methods • The Adventures of Johnny Bunko
Listen at your convenience!
Link to Dan Pink's Feb 2005 Wired magazine article "Revenge of the Right Brain"
Click through to buy his books on Amazon right from this site in the sidebar to the left. Don't miss them!
February 13th, 2008
For the sake of this exploration, let’s just agree to use the word holic for an addicted, compulsive, obsessed individual. In spite of knowledge (a holic knows what is healthy, reasonable and good) she “loves” stuff that is ultimately self-destructive and cannot forsake indulgences for health or well-being, cannot manage, even through force of love or will to stop repeating damaging behaviors.
Now, let’s consider, in contrast, a holistic person. This person’s actions, whether they be in the realms of buying, eating, traveling, pleasure or work, are an integral part of a conscious life, borne out from the person they wish to be, the contribution they wish to make, and the world in which they wish to live. Such a person is capable of self-soothing and self-regard and lives with a genuine love of life. Such a person feels responsible.
People generally either soothe their existential angst and cope with life through a healthy selfhood (holistic) or through a set of defenses and fixes (holic).
Since I'm posting this on Valentine's Day eve, I have some love questions for us:
Is it love to buy someone chocolate, if sugar decays internal organs like it does teeth? Is it love to send dozens of cut roses here and there, if tons of hydrocarbons are thus released into our shared strained atmosphere? How about diamonds and that whole business? How about greeting cards, the paper industry pollution involved, the shipping and trucking of all that? Fine dining on fois gras—does this force-feeding of geese to fatten their livers deliver a culinary treat for our true love?
A holistic person thinks of these things. A holistic person sees the inseparable connections among all things in reality.
The phrase Just Do It made famous by Nike, a corporation notorious for sweatshop labor practices and all manner of exploitation, has perhaps provided us with an apt mantra for our times: Just Don’t Do It!
If we have told ourselves to change our habits and yet haven’t—guess what?—we’re holic and the waters are rising, the world is heating up—and how are we going to stop ourselves from doing the self-destructive things we’re in the habit of doing?
Join me as I take this on and share what I'm doing on these posts from time to time. I am upping the ante on myself to be ever more holistic.
Please click through to this article and then write to me and let me know what you think—could this environmental nightmare really be true or is it some mistake, a gross exaggeration?
©Jari Chevalier, 2008
February 6th, 2008
". . . the greatest economic competition in the world going forward is not going to be between countries and countries. And it’s not going to be between companies and companies. The greatest economic competition going forward is going to be between you and your own imagination. Your ability to act on your imagination is going to be so decisive in driving your future and the standard of living in your country. So the school, the state, the country that empowers, nurtures, enables imagination among its students and citizens, that’s who’s going to be the winner."
--Tom Friedman (The World is Flat)
from an interview with Daniel Pink (A Whole New Mind)
We are a people longing to see beyond our current dilemmas and dangers to a future that is reasonable and sustainable. But we need more than reason to get to reasonable. We need imagination.
How can we become visionaries and nurture our visions in the reality of community? How can we recognize a vision worth pursuing when one comes along?
The world’s best and brightest leaders, philosophers, artists and inventors have always relied on imagination to envision a better future and to bring it to life through creative expression and invention.
Now it is time for all of us to actively put our imaginative powers to work, to open our minds and to face the imperative of envisioning a future that will truly work for the global community.
This means strengthening and nurturing a healthier balance of thought and feeling, which will bring more wisdom to bear as we imagine, work, create. Getting to this healthier balance in the midst of our high-pressured, busy days is a real challenge and we are all in this together.
Our next podcast (scheduled for late February) will feature futurist Daniel Pink talking with us about how he sees practices such as yoga, art and meditation contributing to the shift he describes in his latest book A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers will Rule the Future. He’ll explain how he came to use the creative genre of manga (Japanese for "comics") for his upcoming business book The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need, due to be released on April 1st.
He’ll also speak about the early adopters and also any resistors of the whole new mind he describes and share what’s on the creative horizon for him after The Adventures of Johnny Bunko.
To make the most of the podcast, please enjoy A Whole New Mind prior to listening! Get it right here!