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What is the answer to racial, cultural and religious conflict?

 

Does Religious Ego Underpin the Conflict Between Jews, Christians and Muslims?

 

Deep Cultural Change.

An article by L. Michael Hall. Reprinted from the Meta Reflections Newsletter 2014 #52, December 29, 2014

Is a celebration of differences the answer to racial, cultural and religious conflict?

 

Given the posts on “Neurons” in the past weeks about race, conflict, cultures, etc., is there any question about that we humans need to create some very deep cultural changes in a great many aspects of our lives?  We need cultural changes in just about every area of life.  We need cultural change in business— in corporations, in the ways organizations operate, in the way the markets work, in families, in ethnic groups, in politics, in the world economy, in education, and so on.

What is the culture that needs changing?  In business, the culture which need changing refers to the ways that groups of people have learned about how to manage their processes (e.g., leadership, followship, organization, resources, etc.).   The culture also involves the group dynamics of inclusion and exclusion, communication, connection, collaboration and competition, trust, truth, secrecy, openness, and much more.

Earlier in the year I wrote a series about Creating a Self-Actualizing Company (#7-11), and quoted from former CEO of VISA, Dee Hock regarding his discoveries about the challenges which he faced when he set out to create a brand new kind of organization.  In the aftermath of his decades of work, the realization which he highlighted in his book was that the cultural change part of the process was much more difficult than expected.  And why?  It was due, in part, to the power of old habitual ways which we are constantly revert back to, usually unconsciously.  Falling back to the old ways speaks about cultures as self-organizing systems and how they inherently strive for homeostasis.

Now what is a culture?  Culture results from how we have cultivated our mind, emotions, speech, behavior, ways of relating, values, rituals, etc.  In a word culture is “the way we do things around here.”  Culture then is the internal set of beliefs, understandings, identities, decisions, etc. that have developed over the years or decades or even centuries.  Then, from those internal meaning frames, culture is manifested externally in the actions, ways of relating, rituals, architecture, etc.  Often, this seems to make “culture” an external thing.  It is not.  While coded as a nominalization, it is not a thing, but the process of “cultivating.”

Culture is an internal thing that we project on the outside.  It is a set of meanings that give sense and significance to our world and when we externalize it in how we greet, organize groups, communicate, value, etc., it seems that it is on the outside.  But those are just expressions of culture, and not the culture.  Culture is not an external thing.

That culture is the inside reality is revealed in how we all carry our “culture” with us everywhere we go and how we only become aware of it when we see, hear, and encounter something that violates it.  Then we become aware of our culture and the difference in the cultural ways of doing things before us.  Where is my “culture?”  It is in the frames of meaning that I carry around in my mind about things.  Typically, I never notice it.  It operates as the invisible atmosphere or environment in which I live and move.  I only begin to notice it when something around me doesn’t validate my mental “cultivated frames” and then I don’t know what this or that means?  Or even what it is.  It doesn’t make sense—to my mental mapping.

If this is what culture is— how do we detect it and change it?  If there’s a natural homeostasis energy in a system resisting change and re-organizing for getting things back to the way they were, how do we ever change a culture?

Within every national culture there are scores even hundreds of sub-cultures.  Many of these sub-cultures are highly dysfunctional and really need changing.  How do we change the sub-culture of violence (gangs) that’s in most culture?  The culture of consumerism that’s driven by competition and the idea that “more is better!”?  The culture of status (regardless if the “status” is determined by social standing, clothes, money, degrees, who you know, “likes” on Facebook, or whatever).  The culture of glorifying bad news (called “the media”).  The culture of victimhood (blaming others for one’s own ineffectiveness).

To change “culture” we first have to detect it and where it resides.  This is the tricky part.  It seems to be external, yet it is not.  What’s external are the symptoms, not the essence.  The problem with the violence culture is not the violence.  Yes it is a problem.  Yes it is destructive, dehumanizing, and yes it needs to be changed.  But the actions of violence are derivative from the “culture”— the cultivating of mind-and-emotions in the minds of those who comprise that culture.  They are members of that culture due to how they had their mind-emotions cultivated and how they have cultivated their mind.

What is called racism is not merely the unequal treatment of people.  The obvious fact is that we are not equal in so many ways—understanding, intelligence, talents, skills, values, etc.   Pretending that we are all equal is not the cure for racism.  The cure is to value people as human beings and to treat with respect and to create as equality before the eyes of the law and then of opportunities as much as is possible.  If a person is in a culture and has not cultivated their own mind-emotion in a way that assumes access the critical success factors that are needed, i.e., personal responsibility, valuing hard work, effort, discipline, study, social skills, etc., then whatever “equal opportunities” that might be available to them— will not be accessed and utilized.

What needs to change is the person’s inside mental culture of mind-and-emotions in order to take advantage of opportunities.  Throwing more money at the “problem,” giving more things away, protesting about being discriminated against— these things do not address the core problem, they are only band-aides on the symptoms.

Culture resides inside.  Culture is one of the “logical levels” of the mind along with beliefs, values, identities, memories, imaginations, decisions, permissions, prohibitions, rules, etc.  And as a logical-level, it is one of the most unconscious meta-levels— which is why it seems like our mental-emotional atmosphere.  Culture speaks about your neuro-semantics— the semantics (meanings) that you give to things and then experience externally in your neurology (body). ___ © Author L. Michael Hall, Founder of Neuro Semantics.

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