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Sunday, September 6, 2015 ~ Tripwires & L’Avant-Garde Girackal
‘I am a girackal. Or a jackaffe. Or some such creature.’
Inquiry for September: How do you track your girackal/jackaffe tripwires?
We’ll also be utilizing the diagram below, courtesy of Miki’s post (place into the center circle any interaction, pattern, etc. that you’d like to tease apart):
Excerpt: Our intention and the effect of our actions don’t necessarily line up. In exploring that gap in a variety of contexts, both internal and relational, I hope to support clarity and the possibility of greater personal liberation for many of us… I invite anyone reading this blog to look at this diagram, and to apply it to actions of your own as you become more able to mourn and self-accept as you move through life, thereby becoming more present for others when your actions affect them negatively… (continues)
Gray Matter: The Rationality of Rage
By Matthew Hutson
ANGER is a primal and destructive emotion, disrupting rational discourse and inflaming illogical passions — or so it often seems. Then again, anger also has its upsides. Expressing anger, for example, is known to be a useful tool in negotiations. Indeed, in the past few years, researchers have been learning more about when and how to deploy anger productively… (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/20/opinion/sunday/the-rationality-of-rage.html)
Kashtan, “A Naturalizing the NVC language comes from aligning ourselves with the truth and expressing from that place. I want to learn more and more how to express myself in ways that are completely authentic and require the least amount of effort for the other person to hear me. One of the reasons why the conditioning to be inauthentic is in place is because of the widespread perception that truth and care are incompatible. I challenge that assumption deeply, and have come to believe that any truth can be combined with sufficient care to maintain connection while delivering it.”
One of the occupational hazards, to studying NVC, is witnessing an internal censor (sometimes referred to as the “NVC Police”) join in the aesthetic critque of our right/wrong, good/bad (a.k.a. ‘jackal chorus’) dualistic thinking monitoring how our conduct doesn’t conform adequately with giraffe standard operating procedure or SOPs.
Street Giraffe: Speaking with the spirit of NVC in a more natural language.
If our dialogic choices are rooted in right/wrong/NVC-police type (superficial) thinking, these guardrails either may not hold with much consistency or the ‘suppressed’ emotional state may come across as guarded and largely inauthentic. Instead, coming from an intention to become more mindful of our respective tripwires — utilizing a template such as Gottman’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to better assess our position on the connection/alienation continuum (& perhaps then employing the four OFNR steps by first identifying the stimulus – discerning observations/evaluations and so forth) — and then we may more consciously choose how to conduct ourselves, collaboratively and with as much clarity as possible.
Gottman Institute: Build Mindfulness in Emotional Moments
In a post a couple of years back, I outlined an alternative way to approach one’s apprenticeship to being a more conscious communicator (which seems to parallel with how Helen Mirren views her craft’s artistic trajectory):
I once heard an anecdote of how to frame the arc of acquiring NVC skills (or embodying its consciousness), which seems particularly relevant to any discussion about the role of anger. Borrowing from what I can only assume must be the psychoanalyst, Lawrence Kohlberg, and his stages of moral development, learning NVC was similarly broken down into three stages: pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional. To delineate between these, first imagine a toddler — representing “pre-conventional” — assembling an outfit that mixes stripes, polka dots and a lady-bug patterning. Next, envision the same little girl, now an adolescent, and wishing to blend in with the “conventional” milieu of her peers by wearing the same name brand jeans and sneakers (so as not to stand out!). Finally, see her as an adult professional at Manhattan’s fashion week — a top notch designer of haute couture — assembling those seemingly bizarre “post-conventional” ensembles. To the untrained eye, the post-conventional of high fashion costuming is not all that dissimilar to the “pre-conventional” polka-dots/stripes/lady-bug patterning. But now the creative self-expression seems quite deliberate, of conscious intent/design, as there’s a method to the ‘madness’.
When there’s approximately nine minutes left in the interview Charlie poses the question:
Q: Did you say that your greatest guru is Francis Bacon?
A: Yes, artistically, yes.
Q: How did he influence you?
A: Well, he was a great painter but, obviously…
He wrote… You know there’s a book called Interviews with Francis Bacon and he put forth the concept that, at that time I just hadn’t thought of, of the tension between inspiration and technique. And the way that accident is very important in art. But that you can only achieve accident, in a full way, after you’ve fully mastered technique. In other words he said, you know it’s true, that children under the age of seven are all — every single one of them — a genius painter. They’re genius because it’s totally instinctive. But you can’t be painting as a seven year old when you’re fourteen. So, you know, you have to move forward. And then you go through this painful process of learning technique when you’ve lost all your instinct, you’ve lost all your inspiration, and you’re just learning how to draw a foot. You know. And then you get through that and now you can allow accident to happen. You’re open to accident. You’ve got all the technique, you’ve got all that, it’s so deep within you that you don’t even have to think about it, it’s got to become thoughtless the technique, and then you can allow inspiration to come back. The master of this is Al Pacino. The absolute master. He’s a master of allowing — he’s totally technical — he knows where the camera, every mark, every hit he hits a mark, never fails, you know. He knows the cutting, the editing, and then within that very structured form, which film is, very, you know, very tight — he’s utterly free and it’s just so inspiring to be around.
So when we work with ‘wax on, wax off’ type repetition, we’re practicing scales, or mimicking the form outlined by another, towards an end of greater and greater improvisational freedom (see also: Improvisational OFNR).
One practice that can be worthwhile cultivating, especially as Robert Gonzales suggests in Preparation for an Authentic Dialogue, is that of NVC’s “Enemy Imagery Process”. Certified Trainer François Beausoleil has said that, for him, the most critical NVC skill (or practice meriting repetition) has been that of Dissolving Enemy Images which he would engage with routinely, on his daily walk.
I’ll explore a simplified version of this process, which has three parts (see below).
Practice with utilizing ‘improvisational empathy’ vis-a-vis our enemy imagery:
Three parts of EIP: 1) Empathic connection with self ~ self-connection with unmet needs related to other’s actions; 2) Empathic connection with other ~ self-connection with other’s needs behind their actions; 3) Emergence of new possibilities and requests ~ self-response-ability to meet your needs. (“Enemy Image” defined as any barrier to feeling connection and compassion with someone. The key to this process is cycling within Part 1, and amid Parts 1, 2 & 3.)
FYI ~ Feelings and Needs
So utilizing a recent news story, I’ll delve into my own ‘enemy imagery’ around a recent news story regarding the Obama administration’s approval of arctic drilling.
To begin with, it’s important to bear witness to our own internal ‘jackal show’ (similar to the narrative function that an ancient play’s Greek chorus would perform) in order to delve more deeply into what’s at stake from my own point of view. Last month we explored an apocalyptic trajectory that the world is current on with regard to greenhouse gasses (one that is ‘incompatible with civilization’). In the context of last month’s topic of ‘inalienable human needs’ and our borrowing of the Declaration of Independence, it’s worth noting that this document was a litany of grievances decrying the poor stewardship of the then ruling elite (and the declarative establishment of self-governance based on self-evident human rights).
My narrative inner voice (i.e. Jackal/Greek chorus) was to kind of cry out ‘check’ (at this juncture)! From surface appearances, it would seem as though the world’s governmental bodies are not rising to the occasion to ensure the viability of their respective constituents. And despite there being a kind of newfound freedom atop the U.S. food chain — see for President Obama, a fourth quarter surge — that seems more and more evident in President Obama’s ‘Bucket List‘ approach to governance, no longer hemmed in by electoral calculus:
Yet despite Obama’s increasingly stark climate change rhetoric, as evidenced in the article beneath:
President Obama said at an international conference that “we’re not acting fast enough,” challenging leaders and citizens to reduce emissions to “protect the one planet that we’ve got while we still can.”
There doesn’t yet seem to be a congruence between word and deed. Even while Obama Explains Why He Approved Arctic Drilling In the Face of Climate Concerns (which indeed shows all the red tape penning in the feasible options to any leader’s calculus towards trying to stay within limits such that civilization remains intact — the ramifications of ongoing fossil fuel usage is still not has being factored in, collectively designated with the kind of ‘WMD’ warniness that it merits, given the scientific projections of cities even countries being underwater, bread baskets turned to dust bowls, glacierless mountains ensuring mass migration mayhem as populace nations such as that of China and India seek inhabitable lands — for example; see: Worried About Refugees? Just Wait Until We Dust-Bowlify Mexico and Central America); the red bureaucratic red tape still tips heavily in favor of profiteering regardless of the apocalyptic externalities we’re facing — case-in-point — we’re still subsidizing the most profitable fossil fuel companies on earth!) thus the counter arguments — such as those of Greenpeace researcher Tim Donaghy who writes in Yes, Mr. President, Arctic Oil is a Climate Change Issue) seem rather compelling:
For these reasons, a recent study published in Nature found that 1/3 of all existing oil reserves must be left in the ground and that 100% of Arctic oil was “unburnable” in a 2°C scenario. Any scenario in which we are filling our gas tanks with Arctic oil is one where we have blown past the 2° limit and are well on our way to 3, 4 or even 5°C of warming.
In a very real sense, Shell is betting on the failure of the climate negotiations and continued warming. In a letter to investors, Shell says as much: “Both our scenarios and the IEA New Policies Scenario (and our base case energy demand and outlook) do not limit emissions enough to be consistent with the back-calculated 450 ppm 2°C scenario. We also do not see governments taking the steps now that are consistent with the 2°C scenario.”
“This is not just this year,” he said. “This is the future, from now on. It’s going to get worse, just by the nature of how the climate’s changing.”
So, while standing back and beholding this cacophony of internal turmoil, I discern that one of my ‘girackal/jackaffe’ tripwires, one that oft has me mixing giraffe-friendlier skills such as observation with more of the jackal black humor (read, sarcasm – that comes more naturally) is when I perceive a lack of congruency in the air. I noticed that I’ll intermingle black humor into the mix — girackal — by, for instance noting the ‘shared reality’ in that both President Obama (in the interview above) and Shell (in the interview below) apparently have entertained grim, dystopic views of the future while digging the [artic] hole ever deeper.
September 2, 2015 by
Excerpt: … I wanted to invite Peter Russell to dialogue on Beyond Awakening to expand on what he learned from his work with formal scenario planning; in particular the consulting that he did with Shell Oil where he was part of a unit tasked with looking 25 to 30 years ahead at the geopolitical, social, and environmental feasibility of building refineries in different parts of the world.
At the end of the study, the unit presented Shell’s board with Scenarios A and B, modeling a long timeline into the years ahead for Shell and the regions where its refineries might be based. But he and his team also conceived a Scenario X that was never shown to the board. It detailed a scenario where the unraveling of civilization was already underway.
Much of our dialogue was about denial and the process of emerging from it. Peter described how he had to break through his own denial. He described tucking Scenario X away when the Shell project was done, not giving it any more thought. But at one point, he realized that by keeping Scenario X in shadow, he was denying a possible reality and narrowing what he could “be with” as an individual and thus offer as a teacher and thinker. And if he was doing that, what about the rest of the world?
FYI ~ It’s worth noting that if you listen to the Peter Russell interview/recording, he counters Terry Patten’s notion of being in the [corporate] belly-of-the-beast by saying he never viewed it that way, instead just seeing people trying to put food on the table for their families — quite giraffe-like in tracing everything to universal human needs — of which certainly fossil fuel has been a bonanza for much of humanity heretofore). Of course, it’s also worth noting that I post this collage while typing on my fossilly-fueled keyboard.
Through this process of self-connection, my own needs — say for ‘congruence’ or ‘making sense of one’s experience’ (along with ‘protection-of-life/safety/well-being’) — begin to surface. However, simultaneously, what also becomes clear is that Obama while seeming ‘incongruent’ to me — actions not matching rhetoric — has indeed been registering (and quite publicly, given his bully pulpit) his own grave concern for the planet’s future.
Note at the 10/11 minute mark when Obama inquires (as to optimism/pessimism continuum), “Forty years from now what are the prospects for this blue marble…”
So once surfacing one’s own needs, one way to begin to shift towards empathy for others, (and away from our own pure jackal ire), is to note the gratitude that we may already have that’s been pushed to the periphery temporarily due to our current outrage (in this instance, by taking a quick survey of the political landscape and, consequently, a reality check as to the current ‘lay of the land’ so to speak).
Keep in mind:
Tuesday, 18 Aug 2015
Up to $44 trillion could be going up in smoke if the world does not act on climate change, according to the latest piece of research from U.S. banking giant Citigroup… (continues)
- California Governor Jerry Brown uses Twitter to school Ben Carson about the reality of global warming
- John Kasich Calls Climate Change ‘Some Theory That’s Not Yet Proven’
- Sarah Palin Says She Wants To Be Donald Trump’s Energy Secretary: “If I were head of [the Department of Energy], I’d get rid of it,” she said.
- Australia PM’s adviser says climate change a UN hoax – BBC
- The Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe [global warming a “hoax”], Chair of the United States Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, who brought a snowball into congress to disprove climate change cites the Bible to prove how right he is. In a radio interview, Inhofe said it was ridiculous that scientists continue to address global warming. “The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous,” he said.
- Climate Expert James Hansen Says NASA/Bush Administration Tried to Silence Him
“It saw that this is an opportunity to lead in the science and the discussion. I think, had Exxon continued in that role, there might not be such a cacophony of anti-climate arguments that are ongoing now because there would have been somebody at the table who came from the side of fossil fuel use and would have been shown to be a leader in terms of the science and this was their reasoned opinion as to what was going on. That just didn’t happen, but I really think that was their intention when I was working there.”
The first story, by Neela Banerjee, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer, starts in the late 1970s when an Exxon scientist James Black, briefed company scientists and managers:
“In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels,” Black told Exxon’s Management Committee, according to a written version he recorded later.
It was July 1977 when Exxon’s leaders received this blunt assessment, well before most of the world had heard of the looming climate crisis.
A year later, Black, a top technical expert in Exxon’s Research & Engineering division, took an updated version of his presentation to a broader audience. He warned Exxon scientists and managers that independent researchers estimated a doubling of the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere would increase average global temperatures by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (4 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit), and as much as 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) at the poles. Rainfall might get heavier in some regions, and other places might turn to desert.
“Some countries would benefit but others would have their agricultural output reduced or destroyed,” Black said, in the written summary of his 1978 talk.
His presentations reflected uncertainty running through scientific circles about the details of climate change, such as the role the oceans played in absorbing emissions. Still, Black estimated quick action was needed. “Present thinking,” he wrote in the 1978 summary, “holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.” [Read the rest.]
Tugboats tow the oil tanker Exxon Valdez off Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound 5 April 1989. Exxon became aware of climate change as early as 1981, according to a newly discovered email. Photograph: Chris Wilkins/AFP/Getty Images
Another bit of celluloid comes to mind:
Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity. Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.
So once we’ve taken a step back, and begun to get more in touch with our appreciation for the other’s humanity — we can begin to note how things might look from their point-of-view — becoming more curious from this alternate vantage point, what sorts of needs might be on their radar, i.e. in this instance the need for ‘efficacy’ came to mind.
The Four Horsemen and How to Avoid Them:
Obama used his Saturday recorded message to stress the need for action to cut emissions of greenhouse gases while recognizing that oil will continue to be needed for many years to come and, in his judgement, is best gotten domestically, with rigorous oversight.
“The bottom line is, safety has been and will continue to be my administration’s top priority when it comes to oil and gas exploration off America’s precious coasts – even as we push our economy and the world to ultimately transition off of fossil fuels,” Obama said in his message on Saturday.
Holding in mind that for which we are grateful (qualities, commonalities, etc.), especially during a time of heightened emotion, can be challenging but may also help to deactivate the reptilian brain and bring back online our prefrontal cortex.
Obama: “Remind yourself that there will come a time that your grandkids and mine — if I’m lucky enough to have some — they’ll want to see this.”
“Ask yourself,” Obama added, “are you doing everything you can to protect it?”
…In spite of global efforts to reduce emissions, Obama continued, climate change will continue to worsen unless nations can agree on steeper cuts — including the United States.
“If those trend lines continue the way they are, there’s not going to be a nation on this earth that’s not impacted negatively,” he said. “People will suffer. Economies will suffer.”
In a shot at climate change deniers, Obama said, “Any so-called leader who does not take this issue seriously or treats it like a joke is not fit to lead.”
So one must concede the point that Obama is not engaging in the kind of outright climate denial or ‘gaslighting’ that is all to obvious elsewhere. So, then, there’s that. But to dig even deeper into our own empathic resources, it’s crucial to attempt to see from the other’s point of view, as much as we imaginatively/hypothetically can, in a way that would lend itself to coherence and meaning from where they stand. We can gather that Obama is perusing the same kind of urgent scientific literature that is available to the masses, perhaps even then some (given the hot-off-the-presses resources to which he has access). And therefore that he’s more than cognizant of the potential ramifications that could befall his own children and grandchildren. So while there may be some choices he’s made as Commander-n-Chief with which many take issue — the ethics of spying and drones for example — these decisions can lend a sense of coherence within the context of a man barraged by menacing classified briefings, while attempting to safeguard his fellow citizens, including that of his family’s well being.
But then how to make sense of Obama’s 2009 sanctioning of off-shore, deep water drilling, something not even done under W. (yet, simultaneously, while also enacting this: Obama’s stimulus package was a ginormous clean energy bill, says Michael Grunwald) and then again now with opening the door to drilling in the arctic while speaking ominously of climate change in Alaska?
The region remains inhospitable for drilling, while environmental concerns, a sagging market and sanctions against Russia also have impeded plans.
And then it finally dawned on me, through a confluence of articles such as that above, but in a way in which I was finally able to deeply empathize with a conceivable version of President Obama’s alternate vantage point to mine own. Of course, this may or may not have any footing in actual reality, but the point for this ‘enemy imagery’ exercise is that it be persuasive to our own grasp and understanding of the possible dynamics in play. So while thinking it through, I realized that even if the United States were able to turn off all of its fossil fuel spickets tomorrow — a rather fantastical notion given the demand and the scientific-denialism run rampant across the aisle — the planet will only be salvaged if a vast majority of currently identified fossil fuel reserves, often in other regions, are left in the ground. This means persuading oil-enriched oligarchies to abandon their own sources of wealth, for the betterment of mankind as a whole and our only home, planet earth. And this would require two things, investing in breakthrough in green technology sufficient to replace fossil fuel (something Obama did indeed do, and early on to capitalize on Moore’s Law dividends, as outlined by Michael Grunwald in “The New, New Deal”) and an awakening in a global conscience, not just at home but necessarily abroad as well, towards the steeling of an international body and its leadership spine.
So, attempting to walk in presidential moccasins imaginatively, I could see how as long as the Middle East and Russia, to take just two oil-laden examples, export and Americans consume, the dangerous status quo continues unabated. However, if the United States begins to operate more self-sufficiently as a energy generating entity, then instead of a scenario in which let’s say Putin and his ilk look from atop a win/lose canary seat type perch — i.e. where Russian/Middle Eastern exports of fossil fuels enrich oligarchs, at Americans expense — now, the balance of power is tipped more towards an increasing awareness of a ‘lose/lose’ framework that is at least potentially more likely to factor in as the reality of global warming’s impact, its ever gathering storm on our nearing horizon, become more stark and unavoidable:
“Believe me when I say to you, I hope the Russians love their children too.”
In a sense, it’s a version of the nuclear arms race, headed optimistically towards some kind of detente, this time with fossil fuels as the ‘mutually ensured destruction’ factor.
Others have noted this ‘playing chicken’ theme, too:
But not adequately taking into account why a tactician such as Obama, with young children in tow, might play chicken (not merely with the planet)? Not just what he’s playing chicken with but also with whom…
Which brings us to the last step of the three part enemy imagery process, that of requests. With some newfound resources of compassion for both self and other…
A famous FDR quote comes to mind:
In traveling to Alaska, on the heels of opening the way for arctic drilling, Obama was knowingly setting himself up for outraged labels of “hypocrisy”. Why?
Perhaps due to the relative freedoms that the United States enjoys and thus it being a much more likely place for a grassroots climate change activism to truly get underway and build towards a movement that could sweep the globe; certainly it seems more feasible than in Putin’s Russia or in the midst of repressive middle eastern regimes.
A big if, of course…
Near the end of the Q&A period, link above, after Joseph Ellis makes a quip about our present day congressional leadership requiring lobotomies, he’s sincerely appealed to by a former student as to what it would take to see the likes of ‘founding’ type leadership again. He says that only climate change contains the seeds of that possibility, that ‘when New Orleans and Miami are underwater, millions are dying in places like Africa, and the weather is dominating the news each night’ nobility of leadership might once again emerge. Unfortunately, while recognizing his skepticism that only once climate change is made real and unavoidable will it be dealt with, I also often fear that by then it will be too late. The resources will have dwindled, no longer sufficient to the populace demand. And that humanity will be driven more by its reptilian brain than its higher purpose/prefrontal cortex.
Could the former community organizer be intending to provoke some planetary organizing?
Let’s hope the current leadership of the world love their children, and their respective reputations for posterity’s sake, too.