Cultural Kryptonite and the Antidote

Yesterday I was writing a very different post. A post about doubt. About how we all have it and we all feel alone in it.

When I write, I usually sit down and compose a piece, a few edits here or there and boom, published.

Yesterday however, while writing about doubt, I began to doubt myself, my value, my writing, my perspective. I wrote three different posts, and each new rendition led me to spiral further down the drain of unworthiness.

Everything I saw, heard, and read, heck even thought, had me doubting that I could write or be anything of value. I have had a consistent blog for the last 5 years. People tell me they value my perspective. What was going on?

When I woke up today I knew. I woke up to knowing that if I doubt my value, others do too. I was picking up on the pulse of our generational culture, “I am alone. Change has to be dramatic. And what can I do anyway?” This pulse keeps us small, keeps us thinking we don’t have a place or a role in change so why bother. Keep your head in the sand, nothing to see out here…

My goal in this earth walk is to change culture. I now understand that I am not alone, and neither are you. We are working together, whether we realize and acknowledge it or not.

We live in a culture that isolates us: our own homes, our own cars. Makes us fear our neighbors. Provides information so that we may know about the dangers of travel, food, water, the air, people who are different than us.

To collectively shift the tone of the culture we live within we have to counteract the kryptonite of, “the action I take doesn’t matter. What can I alone do?” And shift our mindset to, “the action I take matters a lot. I am not alone.”

Culture is the underlying beliefs of a group of people. Culture is shaped by shared values, practices, language and experiences. Culture shapes what we see as possible or not in the world. It is hard to break free from culture to see more clearly because everything in our busy day-to-day lives reinforce the shared values, practices, language and experiences of our culture.

We are all affected by and cannot escape the effects of the culture in which we live – buying what we need that is widely available including food; radio, movies, commercials and television give us cultural cues for how to speak, what to want and what to say; we send our kids to schools that reflect and practice the values of our culture: win, achieve, succeed; reading papers, books and/or magazines reinforces the culture of fear; our corporate structures within which we work: the 60 hour work week, limited availability for vacation, working on weekends; the institutions within which we operate; the vacations we take; the places we go; the hours of the stores – all reflect and reinforce the shared values, practices, language and experiences of our culture.

Let me tell you a story about a different culture.

A friend recently returned from a visit to Australia. She was there for three weeks. Over her time there, she realized a few practices, values, and experiences that were different than ours. For instance, they have a work life balance. A practice of leaving work at 3 pm and not working on the weekends. Because of this work life balance shops close early and do not open on weekends. Traffic is bad earlier. Highways take longer to complete as people don’t work overtime. These are shared experiences. The culture as a whole values free time more than they value work. They actually have to pay people to go to college. And people still don’t go. There is no compelling reason.

Wow! That really is a different culture. It sounds kind of nice.

The people of Australia have an underlying set of beliefs, a vision that shapes their culture. That vision is different than ours and allows them to see the world in a unique way.

As I more crisply define what is important to me, in the face of a culture that longs to tell me what I value, and come out of a cloud of projected beliefs, I realize that generationally, we are seeing the world through a lens that has never been looked through before and will never again be able to be looked through once we are gone. This is a special gift that we have yet we all move through our days doubting our contribution to something big not realizing we are a part of big right now.

As Joanna Macy calls it, we are part of the Great Turning.

A moment in time where more people see, understand and are working toward shifting our insatiable shareholder-returns-at-any-cost culture that is causing us to pollute the very thing that sustains us. We are shifting our culture to be something more sustainable and even healing.

We are all working collectively toward a goal without ever being in the same room. We just don’t believe that we are.

What do you want to see in the world? Speak about it, talk about your vision with friends, loved ones. The stories we tell today, within our family systems, within our communities, within our countries and the world will be the legends of tomorrow.

As human beings we have been gifted the amazing capacity to think, feel and express ourselves in art, language, music, movement, and other methods of creativity. We have lived generations with these capabilities that they seem, well, common. These gifts are not common. They are the very key to healing our planet. These capabilities, when utilized for the common purpose of uplifting all people and creatures to a status where their lives matter – instead of making money to have power over another – shape the culture and become part of our lineage. A lineage that future generations will build on, as we have done for generations.

Want to be a more active part of the Great Turning? Invite perspective. We help shape culture within family systems, organizations, communities and hopefully the world so that humans may be around to enjoy the gifts of the earth for countless generations to come.