Why is it so hard for people to work together and solve problems together? So often people organize themselves by some sort of group affiliation that they often do not see other ways to connect. Are we missing something – another hidden bridge to help us work together better?
Sources Of Cohesion
Cohesion is created a number of different ways. When we are young, we learn to live the way those around us live. We imitate the behaviors of those around us. So we create cohesion with those around us by adopting their behaviors. In other words, we join in our family’s way of life and become a part of it.
As we become older and begin school, we learn to act according to rules and conform to a schedule. We learn to play and work with others. So we learn to conform in ways that create harmony in our environment.
Over time we learn what we are good at which helps us identify a potential career for ourselves. We learn what roles are expected of us and start, in most cases, to identify with them. We navigate our social world and start to identify with some individuals over others. In other words, we start to shape a socially acceptable identity to help us survive in our culture.
By the time we reach adulthood we have assimilated all the different ways that our culture has us adapt and fit in. We have become a part of our culture’s purpose and learned to become a useful member of our cultural world.
The Missing Hidden Bridge
Humans have created many different cultural systems throughout our history. Over time they have become more complex and as a result, require more of our time, energy and resources to maintain them. Complexity is always demanding. Because of the complexity of our current cultural system and the number of people it must sustain, most human life has become culturally focused. Taking care of the system has become job number one.
There is nothing wrong with taking care of our cultural system since we all depend on each other to survive – no one does everything all by themselves. However, when a cultural system becomes as large and complex as our current system, we risk creating imbalances that cannot be sustained. We are in such a situation right now where the sustainability of the planet is at risk because of human overshoot. This is not the first time people have overshot the ability of nature to provide but this time it is global.
What has been lost in all of the human activity is our connection to our home. Home used to be nature and the earth but increasingly home is thought of as one’s cultural system and social identity; in other words, people like oneself. Focusing exclusively on culture as “home” means that we have a limited perspective on where our home really is located in nature. We are missing the most important part of our connection with each other: our shared home of earth.
Nature is reality. Nature shows us what flow and process look like. Nature is our way of learning about natural processes which let us connect with the unfolding of life. Nature helps us learn about balance and imbalance, cause and effect. Nature shows us how interdependence works. Nature, because it is reality, is also something that we all share and is our hidden bridge. By treating it as a device for pleasing human appetites, we have lost sight of its special gifts. We have failed to establish a nurturing and respectful relationship with our home and, as a result, have undermined our capacity as a species to live successfully over the long-term.
Bridges connect. In order for anything to be a bridge whether a hidden bridge or obvious bridge, it needs to be shared. Nature is a source of connection because it is something we all share. However, over time, so much our of natural world has become privatized that we have lost sight of that essential and important connection we have with nature.
Sharing Is Connection And The New Sanity,
As our complex world has taken over so much of our lives, we do not connect as much over our shared home and so nature has become a neglected, hidden bridge. Restoring our home, earth, to its rightful place at the center of our shared living is important not only for the well-being of the planet but also because it lets us work together to make our shared home good for all. It lets us allow each person to contribute their gifts without having to fit into some arbitrary definition of who we should be.
What our current world gets wrong is our sense of place which is one species among many. By treated the earth as a resource and not a living entity we have obscured our relationship with our home. We have developed an exploitive and utilitarian relationship with earth rather than a relationship based on regard and gratitude.
We have also created the conditions for the survival mindset to take hold by confining the ownership of much of nature in the hands of a few so that few people feel they can survive on their own. We have created an unnatural dependency on culture and damaged our interdependency with nature. Nature does not need us – we need it.
One of the ways to restore balance is to right our relationship to nature, allow more of our natural resources to be a shared resource and therefore a source of connection. Another is to connect with place as in a geographical place, a location, your immediate surroundings not an identity although knowing more about yourself is inevitably valuable. Anchoring yourself in place lets you adapt to changes in the place around you. When you are anchored in identity it can be harder to adapt your identity to changing circumstances. We see that in some of the resistance to dealing with climate change. Those that have their identities wrapped up in a story about themselves and their identity often do not want change to occur.
When we anchor ourselves to nature and to place, we can allow ourselves to become what we need to become. This is immensely freeing for ourselves and others. Our becoming is tied to the change needs of earth and life and there is less argument about who we “should” be which wastes a lot of energy.
You are not reinventing yourself as much as you are bringing your gifts to bear on changing circumstances. You do not have to turn yourself into a psychological pretzel in order to survive. You simply develop aspects of yourself in response to changing conditions, which then adds to your other skills and capabilities making you more whole. That is connecting properly with life. That is living sanely. We explore this topic in greater depth in our programs which you can check out here.