Part IV – Part III revisited

Before we evaluate Escapist behavior, the mariner must address Part III.

More than a few made it clear that the mariner was lost wading in the cattail patch. The most common difficulty expressed was identifying a greater reality. Perhaps we should stop using the word reality altogether. Instead, we will use “situation.” There are smaller situations and larger situations. The act of enabling harmony is finding the most harmonious solution between the two situations. The rain forest is a larger situation than clearing trees. It still can be said that clearing trees seems not to be in harmony with the larger situation that the forest is part of a global ecology.

A person is always the smallest situation. Any interaction involving another person or anything outside the self is a larger situation.

For example, you are listening to someone who likes to talk too much and has a way of never giving you a chance to talk. This is a larger situation. Focusing on the larger situation, you will make a better decision about how to act to resolve the dissonance between your lesser situation and the larger situation. You will act in a way that more likely enables harmony. In this example, harmony is enabled by politeness and concern that you do not hurt or embarrass the talker. Depending on your personality, several solutions can be imagined. The most common solution is to interrupt in a polite way and excuse yourself from the larger situation with some polite word about having to move on.

Can the reader sense that using a solution in the best interest of the larger situation prevents you from making an internal judgment that likely would be self-serving and may cause dissonance rather than harmony between your smaller situation and the larger situation? Just silently walking away from the talker, which may be the judgment you prefer in your mind, would be rude.

To answer the question about jaywalking, the larger situation is respect for moving vehicles and one’s own safety.  Jaywalking is a common judgment that does not consider the larger situation of someone in a vehicle who doesn’t expect a person to be in the street in the middle of the block. That is dissonance; crossing at the corner is more harmonious.

The question about the animal trap demonstrates that an individual could identify a larger situation and have multiple ways to enable harmony. In fact, every person will identify a larger situation in their own way and enabling harmony may be different from yours.

The answer to the question about payroll is the owner should not make an internal judgment to determine the solution. She should look outside herself to identify a larger situation, that is, what is the most harmonious thing to do for the twenty employees. There are many solutions.

The most harmonious solution may be to have everyone in on the problem solving and essentially let the employees determine a solution that resolves the financial circumstance. This is a good place to point out that enabling harmony is not mediation or arbitration, used to divide the pie or establish a different definition of dissonance. Fairness is an important element when enabling harmony. Sadly, many managers determine a solution without looking outside to identify a larger situation. The common response is, “I will make this decision because I have authority and it will be made in my best interest.” Internalized solutions are prone to creating dissonance.

A misconception that crept into readers’ ideas about harmony is that enabling harmony is the same as enabling bliss and happiness. This response may appear in one-to-one solutions but harmony is not tied to bliss. D-Day in the Second World War was in pursuit of harmony regarding the larger situation of human abuse and disregard for due process on a grand scale by the Third Reich in Germany.

Enabling harmony means, quite simply, going outside the self to identify a larger situation and then act in a way that minimizes dissonance and enhances harmony between the lesser situation and the larger situation. Sometimes, as in the example of the Brazilian rain forest, the lesser situation is the state of Brazil’s economy, not a person. What can be done that enables harmony between the needs of Brazil and the world’s need of many effects attributed to the rain forest?

Stepping back into the reality word, there are political realities, financial realities, international realities, etc. This discourse about harmony is just another reality: harmonious reality – the reconciliation of two situations using harmony as the measuring stick.

Perhaps it is wise to leave escapist behavior for the next part.

Ancient Mariner

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