Connectivity is to us like water to fish. It is a crucial aspect of our existence as well as the foundation of our behavior. Humans are social creatures, and since the beginning of our lives, we have made decisions and set goals according to our social environment. In the context of community, we form choices about our interpretations, then regarding ourselves, women, men, and so on, and develop beliefs and strategies that are based on these opinions. Our relationships with other people shape our private logic and inner and external worldviews. The author M. Scott Peck’s work, A Different Drum, defines the four phases which lead to the actual community: pseudo-community, chaos empty, and authentic community.
Pseudo-Community can be described as a method to present oneself in a manner that’s taught by parents who are well-meaning with remarks such as: “Say you’re sorry” (when we’re not), “Don’t ask, it’s selfish” (when we’re feeling a desire) as well as “You shouldn’t make a statement that you’ll cause hurt” (when we have self-respecting, valid opinions). Making sure that people are considerate, civilized, and respectful is essential. The difference between pseudo-communities is that the main goal is to maintain peace at all costs and keep conflict out. It is mandatory for people to conceal emotions of hatred, anger, or jealousy—anxiety, hurt, and inadequacy, or anything else that is disruptive and unpalatable.
As the chaos starts to show up (and it is likely to), it is common to think it is because we’re”the “weak connection.” We fear that we are insufficient and unprepared for the crucial job of collaboration. This perception is often echoed by other people, and our discontent grows. As a result, we try harder to show a fake face to the world and perpetuate the illusion of a
complicated system for managing relationships and ourselves, which is not comprehensive and realistic. It is not efficient or accurate.
When I betray myself, I’ll betray you.
In time, we spend time thinking about self-defense and attack (to defend ourselves against self-attack) or blame (to release self-blame) and attempt to do whatever it takes (addictions) to suppress emotions that do not fit in our false sense of community. In order to avoid the internal rifts and self-betrayal, we tend to exaggerate our own self-worth, diminish the virtues of others, and appear superior to hide our fears. While all of this can be in our social relationships, our most devastating price is the disconnection from ourselves.
Many people don’t realize that transitioning from a pseudo-community to chaos is a significant leap forward. If we knew, then more people would be open to chaos and not be able to avoid discomfort. This could reduce the rife amount of anxiety and breakdowns, as well as addictions in our society. We avoid chaos to keep us shackled.
What is it like to open your mind to chaos? A good example from my personal life is a course I designed to break down bully systems. I start the class by declaring myself an individual who is a bully. It’s fascinating to see the chaos I’ve created in myself as well as those of the other participants. We are all amused as well as a little uncomfortable. In the next section, I will describe the ways in which I am the victim, followed by an uninvolved bystander and then an active peacemaker. In my head, I know that if I want to be able to influence bullying, I have to first show the willingness to work through the chaos.
The experience of chaos must be first experienced and then fought against or confronted within. I recently spoke with a client who told me her husband was depressed. She explained that she had tried to convince her husband to study self-help literature and search for solutions and even seek out counseling. I advised her to stop all things except to be open to the chaos within her when she was with him or contemplating his depression. She was relieved by this notion, appreciating the freedom and invitation to plunge into chaos, her own anxiety, despair, helplessness, and fear. The process helped her to regain her focus, and, in turn, her husband was able to confront his internal chaos more effectively and directly, and effectively.
Once we’re comfortable with accepting chaos and facing it, then the second step will be to rid our minds of any thoughts and
the practices we used to use well in the pseudo-community. It can be like death. In the empty space, we let go of our judgments and expectations, our goals, even our desires, and goals. We release numerous life-long habits, particularly those that are rooted in the past as well as the future. When we are empty, we venture into unknown space and feel like our world has been unlimited upside down. We let go of our self-imposed limitations and stop striving to be the best, and let others in.
True community occurs after we have stepped away from fear, protection, and judgment. True community is an unconditional connection first with ourselves and then with other people. In this relaxed state of mind and being, the true magic of connection can be created, and trust and solutions come out naturally and in a creative way. The following story is from a journal that describes the life of a South African tribe and is only one of many examples of true community.
“In the Babemba tribe, if an individual is found to be irresponsible or in a way that is unfair, he/she is put in the middle in the community. The entire workforce ceases. All the village members gather, and everyone of all ages starts each one at a time, telling all the good things that the person who is in the middle has ever done throughout their lives. Every event, every moment is described. Positive attributes, positive actions or strengths, and good deeds are recounted in a careful and thorough manner. It is not allowed to create, exaggerate, or play a joke. The rituals of the tribe typically last for many days and continue until everyone has been stripped of any positive remarks. Then, when the circle of tribal members is broken, then a celebration of joy is held, after which the person is ceremonially welcomed back to the tribe. It is not commonplace.”
What are the steps needed to establish a culture that is so deeply committed to a genuine community? A majority of us living in Western civilizations and other countries don’t recognize the importance of community. We think that anything that isn’t an animal-based world is unrealistic, unattainable, and impossible to build. If we could fully accept that the root of our most significant issues is rooted in the culture we have created that we created Would we be willing to work through the confusion (and ineffective) to build authentic connections and genuine community?