Personal Accountability Is The Key To Enlightened Behaviors

Personal AccountabilityWe are all heavily influenced by our instinctive behaviors. All four InterGroup books explain that process in some detail.

We have instincts to be maternal, paternal, territorial, hierarchical, and tribal that all influence our thoughts, behaviors, emotions, interpersonal and intergroup interactions, and cultural realities in every setting.

The usual pattern for the world we live in is that we have a basic instinct that guides each of the major areas of our lives, and we then invent cultures to give us a functional tool to use to achieve each instinct in each setting.

We have hierarchical instincts, for example, so every culture in every setting invents its own hierarchy.

We have territorial instincts — so every culture in every setting invents its own rule sets for property – rules for who owns what, and rules that explain how ownership of property can be determined, changed and enforced.

Cultures help each of our instincts achieve their goals.

We are very inventive in creating our cultures. Our mating instincts are met in every culture and every setting by rules and expectations for both marriages and weddings.

Those rules and expectations follow patterns, but individual cultures can be extremely creative and highly innovative in creating their own variations on those patterns.

Some of our instincts lead us to very negative behaviors.

We have strong instincts to divide the world into “Us and Them” and to act very differently relative to whomever we define to be “Us” and whomever we define to be “Them.”

Cultures tend to do good things for their “Us” and cultures often do bad, discriminatory and even damaging, things to their “Them.”

The four InterGroup books all explain Us/Them instincts, Us/Them thought processes, and Us/Them behaviors at length. We too often do negative, damaging, and sometimes very intentionally evil things to people we perceive at instinctive levels to be “Them.”

Our cultures tend to codify, define, support, enforce, and even reinforce those negative behaviors relative to “Them.”

Slavery, where it exists, is a pure function of those Us/Them instincts being fully activated in those settings.

Both our instincts and our cultures have the ability to make behaviors that are in alignment with them feel right. We instinctively defend our children, and that defense feels right. We instinctively defend our turf and our group, and that defense feels right.

Cultures and instincts can both make some behaviors feel right. Both cultures and instincts can make other behaviors trigger anxiety or stress or even create a sense that the behavior is wrong.

That ability to make a behavior feel either right or feel wrong gives both instincts and cultures significant influence over our lives. Sometimes that influence causes us to do damaging and unenlightened things to people we perceive to be “Them.”

We have the instinctive pattern of being able to lie to “Them” with no sense of guilt or shame. We have the instinctive pattern of being able to discriminate against “Them” or damage “Them” with no sense of regret or ethical concern.

We often suspend guilt in dealing with “Them.” We can have very high ethical standards relative to every one who we perceive to be “Us,” and those high standards can melt away and be perceived to be irrelevant when dealing with “Them.”

We Americans firebombed the City of Dresden in World War II — killing tens of thousands of women and children — and we felt no guilt and no shame as a nation or as a people because the Germans at that point in time were perceived to be “Them.”

The culture of war and our fully activated Us/Them sets of instincts caused us to believe that those behaviors by “Us” were right when we dropped those bombs.

The normal pattern of our lives is that we have three major influences on our thoughts, behaviors, and emotions.

The first major influence is our instincts.

The second major influence is our cultures.

The third major influence is our intellect.

Our intellect has the power to do analysis, figure out situations, develop strategies, and guide our lives in ways that are generally built on our current sets of intellectual values and our basic beliefs. All three of those influences affect our lives every day.

Our usual pattern for using those three major influences is to have our instincts set our basic goals and create behavioral guidances for both individuals and groups. Our cultures are then set up in each setting to achieve and accomplish the goals that are set for us by our instincts.

We generally use our intellect in that process as a tool for both our instincts and our culture. Our intellects generally design, support, and enhance our cultures to help them achieve the goals set by our instincts, and our intellects then work in the context of our cultures to help each of us — as both groups and individuals — to achieve our instinctive goals.

Usually, our intellect is the servant of our cultures and of our instincts.

If we want to live more enlightened lives than the ones that are created for us by our more primal instinctive behaviors and by their reinforcing cultures, then we need to flip that process completely over. We need our intellect to be in control of the entire process.

We need to very intentionally begin by creating explicit and enlightened intellectual values about our behaviors and our life goals. We need to clearly and explicitly embed our best and most enlightened ethical values into that process.

The four InterGroup books each deal directly with that process and that approach.

Now that we can all understand clearly how powerful our instincts have been in shaping our values and our behaviors and now that we can see clearly how our instincts have impacted our lives, we can make better and more informed choices about our future values and behaviors.

Now that we understand how many times and how many ways our instincts and the cultures that support our instincts have led us to damaging, discriminatory, and even evil intergroup and interpersonal behaviors and beliefs, we need to take advantage of that knowledge and insight and we need to very intentionally make a very different set of choices.

Knowledge is power. This extremely important knowledge gives us extremely important power over key areas of our live. Now that we have knowledge and insight about those fundamental and primal processes, we can take power over them.

We can make the ethical and intellectually informed decision to be personally accountable for those sets of behaviors.

Personable accountability is key. We should each commit to being personally accountable for those key aspects of our lives. Because we now know what we know, very real personal accountability is possible. We can each make personal and individual enlightened decisions about interacting in positive and mutually supportive ways with one another — and we can each use both our cultures and our instincts to achieve an important set of enlightened goals.

Instead of having our intellect serving just as a tool kit for our instincts and our cultures, we need to have our cultures and our instincts both work as tools to achieve our enlightened beliefs.

We need to do what we need to do to truly create Peace in Our Time and we need to use our cultures and instincts as tools to create that Peace.

Some people believe we are doomed to be perpetual victims of our most primitive and primal sets of behaviors. Those people are wrong. They are wrong because they don’t take into account our ability to make enlightened decisions when we are more fully informed about the power and impact of those instincts.

Those negative sets of instincts run our lives most powerfully when we do not know those instincts exist and when we do not understand their role in our lives.

We are not actually doomed to be the perpetual victim of our most negative instincts and our most damaging and dysfunctional cultures because we now can clearly understand how they influence our lives, and we can know how to take control of both of those influences and very intentionally and directly make them into tools for enlightenment.

We need to make intellectually solid decisions about our shared values and the beliefs that unite us as a country and as a people. We need to be a people brought together and collectively aligned by our shared beliefs, and not be a people divided by race, ethnicity, religion, or economic status. We need to be an “Us” based on our shared values and based on our clear sense that we all very much want us all to succeed.

We need a core commitment to shared success and to win/win outcomes as a country. We are stronger and safer and more prosperous as a country when we are all included in the American Dream. We are all stronger, safer and more prosperous when every group in each setting does well.

The four InterGroup books were written to help with that process Those books outline the basic values that we share today, and they call for us all to commit to those values together for the country we need to be to give us the future we all want to have.

We need to be a People at Peace with ourselves. Too many other countries in the world today are at war with themselves. We need to avoid that fate.

We need to understand both our history and our areas of concern today.

We have done evil things to people as groups of people in very clear ways. We are doing damaging and discriminatory things to each other in too many settings today.

We need to do better.

We need to recognize those behaviors and those realities for what they are and have been, and we need to rise above them to achieve real win/win results for every group in America. We need a collective future that is aligned and anchored by our shared beliefs and clearly and explicitly committed to Peace.

That can be done. Knowledge is power. We need to use that knowledge of our instinctive behaviors and our cultures to create Peace in Our Time. We need to do that work here and now.

The InterGroup books are all intended to help with that process.

This website is intended to support that agenda as well.

Welcome to a Peace Movement that is long overdue for us all. Personal accountability is clearly the choice we should all make. Let’s be personally accountable to create Peace.

Be Well.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This post was written by Institute for InterGroup Understanding

  • Leah

    Great post. For all those interested, I highly recommend Mr. Halvorson’s book, The Art of InterGroup Peace.