I’ve been listening to NPR / WBEZ several times a day as usual.  Seems every two to three stories has something to do with the oil spill in the Gulf.  I’ve heard how experts are trying different tactics to cap the exit point, talks with oceanographers and those who were able to learn something from the Exxon-Mobil disaster, chats with locals about the losses of livelihood and lately it’s been an inquiry into what caused this to happen.

Are we really there already?  Don’t get me wrong, BP owes a great whopping contribution to what is being deemed the greatest ecological disaster the world has ever known, and my hope is that this is all this is.  My fear is that it will give plenty of angry, fearful people a witch to burn, that we’ll enter the long disastrous spiral of a blame game so that we needn’t recognize the part every single one of us has played in leading us to creating a gaping wound under the sea on mother Earth.  We have no idea what this means for our existence on Earth in the coming decades, centuries, quite possibly the next millenium.  I find it hard to believe that we no longer suffer effects from the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  But I digress.

What comes to mind is some words of Christ I’ve always found quite poignant.  Let he who is without sin cast the first stone…  When we are hurt, it is our human nature to “throw stones”, look for blame, reject any responsibility we have for a situation.  It is also human nature to overestimate the positive and underestimate the negative, and I would venture this point is key to just about any disaster of this kind.  We anticipate all the “great” we can get out of a venture and completely overlook the possible damage we could cause.  Let me say again, this is human nature, folks.  Yes, BP has an inordinate amount of responsibility for this situation given it is their rig that buckled.  All I want to get across is that it could have happened to any of the oil companies, and although the others claim surprise that BP lacked in its precautions; they have also gone so far as to say that none of them would have been prepared for such a situation. 

Yes, every single one of us should be worried and recognize the part we have played simply by owning a gas-powered vehicle or using plastic for that matter.  I’m not saying we should ban all carbon-based products.  Any extreme is ludicrous in my mind.  I’m just wanting us each to take responsibility for the part we have played as individuals, communities, societies and cultures by the simple use of these products.

I am also of the mind that when it comes to a solution and clean-up, it should involve both BP and the government.  And, we might look to BP and its peers to create a panel of folks who know the most about both to lead the effort.  Only because I’ve also heard the debate of whether BP should continue to lead the charge or the government should take over.  And in this case, no one, as far as I can tell, solely has the knowledge, skills or capacity to deal with this crisis.  I’d like us to recognize that both, plus many more, heads in this are better than either on its own.  I’d like us to focus on the solution more than solve “who done it”, because that’s the only way I see us getting out of this mess as a global society.

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Something has got to give.  If you haven’t read it, Hofstede’s Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind has a lot of great insight.  I’d like to share a piece with you here.   Hofstede refers to differences between cultures that have either a short-term or long-term orientation.  One of these differences is the axiom that serves as the code to how cultures approach differences.  The axioms are that we can look at our differences in two ways:  1) If A is true, it’s opposite B must be false or 2) If A is true, it’s opposite B can also be true.  Within the broader text, the second axiom goes further to say … and together they produce a wisdom superior to either A or B.

There are a number of interpretations that might be drawn.  Win-Lose vs Win-Win being one.  When we are able to accept another’s perspective and appreciate both our own needs and those of another or others, with time, attention and effort, we are often able to produce a greater solution.  One could argue that such ability is key to innovation.  Perspectives come together to find a solution taking into account as many angles as exist perspectives.  This brings to mind how valuable diversity of thought can be when we are able to transcend our need to win at another’s expense and appreciate and assimilate alternate viewpoints.

The question is raised, how does this happen?  How do we create such a situation?  I submit it starts with creating a foundation of trust, starting with self trust, which inevitably builds our trust of others.  Because we see the world as we are, when we trust ourselves, we in turn trust the world around us.  Such trust enables us to approach others and situations trusting unknown intent.  We drop the assumption of bad intent and replace it with good.  Just following the 80/20 rule, a vast majority of the time, especially within communities, whether neighborhood or professional, we are going to encounter trustworthiness.  I would go so far as to argue that even half of the 20% encompasses misinterpreation and miscommunication.

Folks, there is more positive than negative in our world.  It is simply our focus on the negative that magnifies it.  We want more of the same than our need to “win” will let us realize.  So next time someone has a different view than you, practice listening with heart.  You might just hear something familiar.  I’m willing to bet on it.

Hugs,

Jacqueline