Part 1: Demystifying Our Selfishness By Socialization
Talk about bad news – I’ve had three friends of completely different circles, tell me they’re breaking up with their spouse. Why? There are many reasons relationships don’t work. The oodles of books on relationships, divorce and the differences between the sexes are a testament to the confusing nature of the subject. Truthfully, as many different versions of human beings there are, there are equally that many different types of issues faced in relationships because all of us really are unique in our personality, attitude, beliefs and most importantly irrationalities.
Unlike most relationship chatter, what’s important to address here is a certain frame of mind that is telling, a generational issue that many of my friends display (gen X and Y’s alike) that truly seems to be at the crux of these relationship failures. Let’s call this concept the “me vs. we” dilemma.
There was a time when “we” was more important, but that seems to be long gone in the western world aka the developed world aka the material world aka left brain hemisphere dominated. By examining these all too common titles of society on this side of the globe, we can arrive at some very lucrative conclusions that may guide us into better understanding our relationship woes. At least that is my goal.
Simplistically, we’re considered the ‘developed’ world because industrialization created a tonne of structure, including enormous buildings, way too many rules and complicated social systems that we’ve been trained to be dependent upon. One of which is the nuclear family structure in the West that teaches us to be independent, question authority but defer to rules, provide for ourselves first, in essence to not have to depend on anyone. As a result we all work, and this has clearly shifted the balance of power and expectation between the sexes. Other parts of the world don’t have a nuclear family and hence their outcomes are much different. So yes! This contributes to much of our relationship confusion because no one really knows how to work as a team, it’s all about me! Our generation has failed to effectively adjust the head of the family structure that existed for centuries when men were the primary worker who brought in more money and women typically worked for free or exchange, at home and in the community. So we continue to fumble painfully in our misguided approach.
Very interestingly, the ‘material’ world has replaced the spiritual world for many, in times when organized religion is contentious and has seen better days. Unbeknownst to many for some reason, is the fact that the underlying values of spirituality have not changed, but rather the negative religious examples are due to the foibles of man not spirit. This lack of human comprehension has led us down a slippery slope. Once you begin idolizing possessions and believing that you’re skin and bones without a higher force or essence, you stop empathizing with people, including the ones closest to you. You start believing their value is in dollar and cents instead of the intrinsic values human emotion, experience and dignity brings. There is nothing that will corrode a relationship faster than disagreements over money. And this area of contention is typically based upon an unhealthy notion of what matters most and what matters little in the grand scheme of a team.
Now when we consider the ‘left-brain’ hemisphere, being a very linear, logical and sequential affair, it makes sense why our education, government and corporate structures exemplify this and as a result have shaped us to value these practical, scientific, unemotional abilities in the West more than other creative skills. This has led to an entire generation of people who wonder why their grandparents lasted so long, yet they can’t manage to keep it together for a few years. Just the other night, a dear friend of mine mentioned to me, “My parents are so in love, I don’t think I’ll ever have that”, and she’s been married for 10 years with a lovely family. Why is that? Do we just not know what it takes to love anymore? Have we really been that slighted by society that we can’t get it right? Where are our right brain faculties – empathy, understanding, reading between the lines, seeing the big picture? Have those skills been lost for lack of training, lack of emphasis at home, school, work?
Correct! They’ve been beaten up and devalued for decades and it’s clear upon analysis that these are skills our generation is not good at, in fact, horrible at. A 5th grader from an undeveloped part of the world is a more impressive team member than most 25-40 year old professionals in the West. Only now, with the conceptual age movement and the need for creative visionaries are leading thinkers starting to acknowledge the void we’ve created in our society by not being well rounded, left and right brain human beings. These social issues are prevalent here because they are blindly encouraged and supported by our social systems and reinforced by popular culture. It takes the bright ones to point out the fallacies that run rampant, including the notion that me is more important than we.