by Matt Mattson
Your ability to connect determines your ability to gather. And your ability to gather determines your ability to impact.
But our collective human abilities to connect and gather are declining.
Let’s start here. The way in which we interact with one another is becoming more digital, more virtual, more robotic, more artificial, more disconnected and more inhuman each day. This is not a small thing. It is changing us.
We are changing.
We see each other in-person less.
We touch each other less.
We avoid each other.
We shake hands less.
We keep six feet apart.
We scroll a feed seeking human emotion.
We talk to machines more than we talk to people.
A species that has survived and thrived to this point by gathering together in groups is splintering more and more by the moment. A species that has built the most breathtaking and mind-boggling societies the known universe has ever seen through civil discourse, human cooperation, grassroots organizations, and interpersonal communion is forgetting the fundamentals that has gotten them here.
At the same time, political and societal unrest is tearing open previously droopy eyes to systems of oppression, discrimination, bigotry, and violence. One of the only obvious positive outcomes of reduced gatherings has been the not coincidental reduction of mass shootings. Poverty is rising. Drug overdoses are skyrocketing. Unemployment is climbing daily. Trust in government, trust in authority, trust in each other is plummeting.
Who made these problems? Humans.
Who must fix these problems? Humans.
Our world is calling out for a moment of evolutionary progress. And many of us can hear the cries for help.
Of course our world is made up of… us. Our society is built from humans. So, there is probably only one answer… us.
Perhaps there is a new stage of development for us, as a species, to grow into. Perhaps we’re only partially formed, and we’re all becoming suddenly aware of our partialness. We’re not quite living up to the challenge of the moment, and we’re suddenly becoming aware of our not-quite-enoughness. The question is, “How do we change, how do we adapt, how do we become what our world needs us to be? How do we become the full humans our fellow humans need us to be right now? How do we become… more human?”
Of course, our full humanity is already within us. All of us. Differently, of course. Your full human potential is a different shape and color than mine. But it’s there. Just waiting for you to live into it. To make choices that allow you to be the human our world needs all of us to be.
In each of us lives some true potential. To what extent are you realizing yours?
In our society, there lives a new potential. To what extent are we collectively willing to live up to ours?
Something we’ve been teaching for a while called “Social Excellence” feels like it needs an upgrade for today’s world. It’s all true and helpful. And it might be new to you still. I continue to very much believe it. But it isn’t enough for what the world needs right now… for what I need right now. I’ve been wringing my hands and wracking my brain and staying up late at night searching for something more. And then I realized that there probably wasn’t anything more. I am a human. We all are. There is no more. There is just us. I just need to choose be more. We just need to choose to be more. In every moment. Choose to be more human.
I’m not sure if these are the perfect “3 Simple Ways To Be More Human”. But they are the three personal choices I’m using today to seek a new level of humanity in myself. I can’t help but suggest that we all need to recite a mantra in the morning, and say our prayers at night with the intention of RELISHING UNCERTAINTY, CELEBRATING MAGNIFICENCE, and SHOWING UP UNFILTERED. Every choice should reflect these three beliefs for becoming more human?
“Three Beliefs for Becoming More Human?”
What if we chose to relish uncertainty? What if “I’m not sure, but I’m trying to learn” became our mantra? What if all you’ve been told about what’s certain couldn’t possibly be if many others are certain about their (almost certainly different) point of view?
Let’s have faith in uncertainty. Let’s cherish it. Let’s worship it. Let’s love the questions and the exploration and journey of learning together.
We were created as beings able to learn and grow and change and improve. That gift in the way we were created is divine. When we dive deeply into the pool of uncertainty we are tapping into the very essence of our human potential. Our curiosity, our wonder, our inquisitiveness, and our sense of possibility might be the most powerful tools we have. They are to be credited for everything that has advanced us (and admittedly the things that have harmed us too).
A mindset that rejects blind and immature certainty but pursues ever improving answers with passion will win the day. This is the mindset we need to engage one another respectfully and hopefully.
Let’s be uncertain and be o.k. with that.
When you look at your reflection, what if you saw how truly magnificent you are? When you look at the face of another, what if you could immediately grasp how wondrous and complex and nuanced and beautiful they are?
Let’s make that choice. Let’s let each face we peer into during a conversation reflect back our belief that “This person is magnificent!” Each person we encounter contains a lifetime full of lessons and stories and insights that we can tap into. Each person we encounter has also somehow survived a lifetime full of moments of pain and loss and sorrow. We all enter each encounter full of this magnificence. And it is up to each of us to remind one another of our wondrous nature.
SHOW UP UNFILTERED
Connecting with others in real ways is scary and risky. Let’s do it anyway.
Allowing others a peek below the surface of your soul can be terrifying. Let’s do it anyway.
The only times we ever really connect with each other in powerful ways that matter is when we remove our filters. We can’t truly connect through the everyday filters we wear. It’s that simple. Let’s choose to embrace the risk living unfiltered as the price we’re willing to pay to be fully human.
You might be thinking, “O.K., so if we hold those three beliefs… If we make momentary choices that reflect those beliefs… if we engage with others in a way that enacts those beliefs… so what?”
Good question. So what?
This is my favorite part. My answer is simple: So that.
I don’t care that you’re nicer to people. I don’t care that you’re better at making friends. I don’t care whether or not you can charm and connect and buddy up with others. I mean, it’s nice and all, but I really don’t care. I’m not interested in a nicer world. I’m interested in a better world.
You know what I care about? I care that you get better at that stuff SO THAT you have the habitual skills to fix a broken world.
Your ability to connnect determines your ability to gather. And your ability to gather determines your ability to impact.
Read those two sentences again. They are the thesis. They are the answer. They are the guide. They are the instructions for fixing our world. They are what it really means to be more human.
Most humans don’t connect well. Especially now. And we’re getting worse.
Most humans don’t gather regularly. Not anymore anyway. We gather, now, in Facebook groups and Reddit threads and Twitter feeds and virtual video game environments and Zoom meetings and YouTube comments. Not the same.
The best parts of our world have always been built by groups. When we gather, we matter (to those we wish to influence) to a far greater extent. A group of folks demanding something is a lot more powerful than a person demanding something. A big group of folks working on a problem is a lot more powerful than a single person working on a problem. A group of people regularly meeting about the action they’re taking to make change… makes change. People gathered together around a purpose are the two key ingredients of an organization, and organizations are what have built everything ever. Organizations are what have built everything ever. (I meant to repeat that sentence because it’s a pretty important statement).
I care that you CONNECT… SO THAT you can GATHER… and I care that you know how to GATHER… so you can IMPACT.
We need more humans to be more human.
(P.S. This is what fraternity and sorority has always been about. Looking for a direct connection? Read this.)