what you do with what you have

Forced Teaming. A phrase frequently accredited to Gavin DeBecker’s seminal work Gift of Fear describes a tactic employed when fast-tracking rapport is critical. Often attributed to predatory machinations it is also an effective tactic in de-escalation.

Forced Teaming presumes tribal affiliation. You and I are the same. We share common ground. Highlighting our similarities crashes against our efforts to dehumanize our adversary. It’s harder to put a bullet in your head if I can see my hopes, dreams, losses and loves reflected back to me in the mirrors of your eyes.

Common ground is the inverse state to nihilistic isolation and narcissistic superiority. Tribal affiliation is defined by colors, patterns, specific beliefs, rituals and the rules/laws to which we give our loyalties. Whether tribal connectivity (the basis for a common-ground paradigm) is a truth or a tactic may be a fantastic conversation starter, but it’s a useless debate when experiencing connection is essential for survival.

Our tribes are no longer defined exclusively by our geographic borders and melanin. Our shared interests and ideologies are transcontinental. I have family 1600 miles away and tribal brothers who fly the flags of different nations.

What defines our sense of tribe eventually bottoms out at sacrifice. For whom are you willing to sacrifice? This is your tribe. It may be the neighbor who’s car battery needs a charge or a friend in a different country who watched their home burn. Sacrifice 15 minutes for the jump or wired funds to rebuild – doesn’t matter – this is where and how we demonstrate common ground.

Sacrifice does not mean giving up agency. It is not the expression of hive-mind and sacrifice is not defined by mutely acquiescing to government edicts. A true, measurable sacrifice begins with first acknowledging what belongs to you and then deciding if giving that thing will create tangible value.

Your time. Your money. Your toilet paper. Your life. If you bought up all the toilet paper in a wave of emotional pandemic and distributed it to your neighbors, you sacrificed time, money and a resource you procured. If you bought out the toilet paper aisle because you were afraid you wouldn’t be able to wipe you hind quarters…

If you are on a cruise ship with 5000 passengers and lifeboats with only 1000 seats, you volunteering to go down with the ship is a narcissistic gesture. It isn’t sacrifice. Until one of those lifeboat seats has been assigned to you directly, you do not have a seat to give. Your sacrifice is theoretical. You LOOK like a great human being with a strong sense of Tribe. Appearances don’t save lives, however.

Community and governmental leaders have been calling on their citizenship for sacrifice as the only way to stem the deaths of the pandemic. Authentic sacrifice is the deepest expression of agency and freedom. Acquiescing your personal authority because you were told to do so is no sacrifice. Assuming you must sacrifice your freedom (which is different than liberty btw) to help stem the contagion renders you ineffective at best. At it’s worst? It makes you easily enslaved by the next charismatic tyrant.

You share common ground because you are part of the human community. If you are sacrificing to the good of your tribe you will feel a degree of peace inside all this chaos. If you believe you are sacrificing but feel instead anger, frustration and partisanship – you forgot sacrifice begins with acknowledging you are free to decide for yourself what you will do with what you have to give.

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