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For the Love of the World
Index

General Human Nature: Dominance & Submission

3/13/2003


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Writing From Life  

Universal Church of the Kingdom of God James Taylor - JT - 06 - Secret O' Life

I am watching the news as I write this – that’s not a particularly unique occurrence – and it’s all about the continuing debate over Iraq, and the US propaganda campaign to discredit France for taking a bold stand toward a position that the citizens of the world want, despite the governmental agendas or preferred political perceptions.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s communications would have you believe that all the protesters are expressing support for Iraq, as opposed to expressing support for a “New Age” instead of a “New World Order” Even the protesters don’t understand that that’s what’s underneath it all.

With all that in mind, I can’t help thinking about my favorite sayings or aphorisms: “for every action, there is an equal but opposite reaction”, and “what you resist persists” (a suitable French phrase for the occasion).  Even more, I think about how I believe that the primary human motivation is being right. 

In nature, to survive, you must be right about how to hunt or grow food. Winning is often considered more important than the means employed to win. When you apply those kinds of natural influences, I believe that what actually occurs 24/7/365 is based on dominance and submission.

When a plant overtakes other plants in a given garden, we say that it dominates that environment.  When atoms collide, in essence, the reaction is based on the dominance or submissive nature of the individual atoms as they are attracted and repelled based upon what we loosely call physics.  Gravity, itself, is a product of dominant and submissive forces.

Regardless of the interactions, between people or plants or even the weather, all interactions and relationships bear the attribute of dominance and submission.  Dominance and submission causes order.  It’s an important factor when distinguishing the difference between structure and control.  It’s the inherent mechanism that drives the ultimate purpose of a living entity to survive.

I am rather firm in this opinion, particularly in terms of human relations.  Because I have no formal education in these matters, I can only assert my observations, and enjoy discovering how they relate to the discoveries of classic and contemporary theories.

The conclusions I came to could easily be traced to my childhood.  I was a constant observer.  I was the kid who sat in the corner and listened to World War II and Korean War veterans talking about war commanders, and the issues that lead to war.  I heard my mom giving personal advice to my 4 sisters. And, maybe most importantly, I was able to spend a great deal of time observing animals in their natural habitats from a very young age.

A few years after leaving my elementary school in Scotts Valley, California, I found out that my peers called me the philosopher.  We would have discussion, one on one or in groups, about all sorts of things: sex, morality, the nature of relationships.  I thought we were just talking.  They told me that they came to me because I would start more like “town hall meetings” in which we would speak inquiries into the subjects.  I gained a great deal of insight into perceptions and underlying questioning of the basis for those perceptions.  Innocence provides a great deal of unfiltered responses.

In my early teen years, I had the unfortunate opportunity to observe alcoholic parents engaging in ongoing arguments that were driven by insecurity, and the need to feel validated in their “victimness”.   As in the wild, animals often make aggressive overtures in order to protect themselves and to disguise their vulnerabilities.  It is in this observation that we can see the initial facility of the conclusion that perception is reality.  Marshall Rosenberg of the Center for Non-Violent Communications (with whom I am associated) would describe this as defensive use of force.

In the early 1980’s, I began to develop a theory and design a serious of seminars intended to facilitate a “safe” discussion of the concepts and principles of domination and submission.  It was intended to be a conversation regarding all of the implications of dominance and submission in our lives, culture and environment.  The idea was that if we were more conscious of what drives and motivates us, we could understand the alternatives or choose alternative approaches by over-riding or choosing our natural instincts.  This included ways of thinking that did not cause us to be self-conscious, but acting with integrity to our socially and individually declared values.

I often said that if more people had to study structured computer programming we would have a lesser need for psychiatrists.   What I mean by that is that if we were more adept at organizing our thoughts independent of emotion, which is generated primarily by a deep-seated self-interest (survival) then we would not be as vulnerable to acquiescence to behaviors and attitudes generated by external influences and the need for validation (or, to be right and therefore dominant or associated with a dominant point of view).

In the same time-period, I was working primarily as a computer trainer, managing customer support services as an employee and a consultant, working with major international software companies, computer chains and business organizations.  Working in that arena, I discovered that the primary challenge in working with people and their resistance to computers (and the change it represented) was providing an environment where there was no judgment or penalty for having done something “wrong”, it was easy to “fix” the problems they were having.  In essence, they could not argue with a computer in order to alter perceptions or prove their validation.  The machine and its unknown idiosyncrasies automatically challenged their validity, their self-esteem and superiority.

All in all I came to the conclusion that 95% of the job was dealing with restoring an individual’s self-esteem.  Once that was accomplished, they were willing to be more aggressive in confronting challenges, as well as admitting to the actions that lead to the problem in the first place.  The emphasis was on workability, non-evaluation.

An equally interesting observation surfaces when you notice that what this actually sets up is equality.  That, then, provides the context for the phrase “that which you resist persists”.  When resistance is removed, less energy is expended, and more energy is applied to resolution or performance.  It is the same principle at the core of electrical theory, and calculating power.

In 1990, I was introduced to a course called “The Forum”.  This is an experiential program dealing with human relationships.  It’s current focus has to do with the value of maintaining relationships, particularly familial relationships, and the importance of reconciliation with parents.  When I became involved, it was still changing from it’s original incarnation, referred to as “Est”.  They described it as an inquiry into what it means to be human.  “The Forum” is a more eloquent, gentler presentation than the more confrontational style of “Est”.  Frankly, I found the old “Est” style more productive, although most people would reject its intrusive approach.

It was incredibly relevant to the theories I had been developing, and had a more robust level of research and use. I volunteered in that organization for about 10 years, as well as was employed by them for about 6 months in 1999. My primary activities involved personal coaching of other individuals, pre-course counseling of new participants in order to set goals and expectations so as to enhance their experiences and benefits in the courses, and production and leading of “human potential” seminars and courses.

As cynical as it sounds, what I learned most from that had more to do with the paradoxes human beings face. On one hand, we intrinsically operate in a fair way and have expectations of others to do the same. It is our experience of injustice or inequality which causes us to develop social strategies in order to dominate events and control the outcome.

The idea of cause and effect, dominance and submission, becomes the apparent adaptive response for physical survival and survival of the identity.

“The Prince” by Machiavelli is a particularly insightful expression of observations of attainment of power, techniques of leadership and political strategies, socio-economic conditions and individual personalities which tend to generate each other in a responsive, compensatory manner.

People are much more predictable than we realize on a conscious level.  I believe that ending resistance to trends and, instead, altering the perceptions of their definitions, deconstruction of the strategies employed, and conducting a public expression of egalitarian values without comparison to opposing values or approaches will allow for a realignment and reconciliation of our social paradoxes.  It must be done in individual speaking.

Since 1970, I have also been a broadcaster, with expertise at creation of advertising campaigns, writing copy and programming music and station formulas, as well as announcing.  I will outline steps that can and must be employed in order to alter perception in another chapter on Focused Communications, or Propaganda.

 

 


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