The flexibility theme continues. This week, we’re not just talking about being able to adjust your plans on-the-fly, but mental flexibility. What do you do when you’re confronted with facts that run contrary to your world-view, or worse, to your self-image?
We humans are in a lot of ways still a very primitive bunch. Our brains are still hardwired to be able to keep track of our “village” (‘Dunbar’s Number,’ or about 150± relationships). We’re still generally pretty xenophobic by default, fearing the “other” (and hating what we fear). What I’ve long suspected, and now can show research to confirm, is that we’re generally pretty ‘tribal’, and will resist things that might make us not fit in our current ‘tribe’.
This plays out in a number of ways. One way is to continually extol the “exclusivity” of your ‘tribe’—this tactic has led to the modern concept of “American Exceptionalism”. Another way is to deny anything that would change the status quo, particularly as it pertains to one’s own social standing or belonging. This version leads to any of a number of neuroses. (Yes, I’ve thought up and discarded any of a number of plays on the “Survivor”-“survivalist” theme, and getting “voted out of the tribe.”)
How do we get around our innate tribality? I believe that it’s primarily done by growing the f**k up. Admitting that you can be wrong, and admitting and accepting it when you are. Allowing your opinions to be swayed by facts. Being aware of the “us-vs-them” mentality, and stopping it when it crops up. Yes, the “right-vs-left” version of this is a regular player on this and other political blogs, of whatever stripe; that seems to be the nature of the beast. I will continue to push openness, and the willingness to change one’s mind (both for myself, and for others) as the a primary force for good.
With that being said, I’m cutting this week’s blog post short. A sudden advent of Real Life ™ has made things quite hectic, suddenly—nothing bad, this time, but scheduling has become difficult, and the good weather lately has exponentially increased the amount of work to be done around the homestead. Seeds are sown, and the chicken countdown is C-minus-45 days. I’ve got fences to mend, and fields to be tended! What’s keeping you busy, faithful readers?