Communication to communism – the Butterfly Effect

How we communicate with everyone around us is the social glue of that thing we call community. It’s no coincidence that these words share a common root with communism, although that word in particular has been corrupted beyond belief given it’s association with the barbaric tyrany of Stalinism in Russia and Eastern Europe and Maoism in China. But in essence we are talking about striving towards creating a society where human beings can relate to each other in a truly free and open way, without fear of threat, violence , exploitation or oppression. That does not mean that life will suddenly cease to be difficult. As long as we’re alive life will be a struggle at times. But at least we’ll be all working together co-operatively to tackle our challenges rather than living in a society where people are pitted against each other, vying for rank, status, material riches, and woe betide anyone who gets in their way.
Dominic Spanglebramble is a new Facebook friend from the States.  He identifies as a pansexual masculine androgyne and is a democratic socialist/anarchist. We met through an FTM discussion board about Transgender and Socialism and I enjoy reading his posts and general musings. Dominic wrote the following Thoughts in his Livejournal years ago. This evening he resurrected it on FB so more people can read it. With his permission I’ve copied our conversation here because what he is saying really connects with me where I’m at in my life at the moment. His Livejournal is now sadly deceased so I can’t post a link to it 😦

THOUGHTS

“People are people. This means everyone, including you.
Let them be people. This means you, too. Don’t get in the way of yourself or anybody else being human.

Life can be difficult. Ignore the strata of difficulty. Everyone has problems. Not to sound trite talking about the golden rule and all that, but if people would just be nice to each other, everyone would have a lot fewer problems. Do not use the excuse of “if people were nicer to me, I’d be nicer to them”. That will get you nowhere, and treating people with a modicum of respect can make your life easier in itself. You don’t need to step on people to be happy, and resenting those who step on you will get you nowhere but depressed, angry, and no better off for it. Anger is a natural reaction, but if it is dwelt upon it can make change that much more difficult.

When people are in a hurry and you are in front of them, let them pass.
If you are in a hurry and someone in front of you is being slow, take that moment to think about why it might be worth it to slow down. If you are still intent on getting somewhere very quickly, simply say “excuse me” to get the other party’s attention, and let them know you wish to pass.

When waiting in line, be aware that there are other people in line and they are likely to be in at least as much of a hurry as you. If someone looks impatient and you are not in a hurry, feel free to let them pass you in line. This is not elementary school, the entire line will not try to cut you because you let one person right behind you with six screaming children go first. In fact, many will be glad to be relieved of the noise quicker. If YOU are in a hurry and the line is moving slowly, be patient. Life is tough.

If you are a worker: Pay attention during training. Take notes if you must. Be efficient. You may have all day, but the people in line do not. However, in the event that a customer in line is taking a long time, keep your cool. If they look flustered and apologetic for not being ready, let them know you have all day. Leave it to the other customers to get upset with each other if they wish to, but take care of everyone as quickly and pleasantly as possible. If a customer has a complaint, try to find the logic or misunderstanding, and resolve the situation as quickly as possible. If you cannot, alert someone who can. Above all, remember: customers are people too. They have bad days just like you, and their complaints may or may not be based on anything you actually did wrong. Maybe their wife ran over their cat that morning.
All of these tips go for dealing with your boss as well.

If you are a customer ANYWHERE: remember, people with jobs are still people. Jobs
suck. You probably have one too, or else you did or will, and chances are good that you don’t/didn’t/won’t like it. Anyone you are dealing with who is working would most likely rather be doing something else. A lot of jobs don’t pay well, and this is bound to make people grumpy. Don’t be surprised if your barista/waitress/cashier looks tired and disgruntled. They get yelled at a lot and don’t get paid very much money. If you are not financially well-off, you can probably imagine how annoying it can be to see so much money in one day and know you won’t make that much in the next 6 months combined. If you are well-off, try to understand.

If you are a boss: Keep track of what you have told your employees to do. Give a to-do list in the morning if you like, or only assign one task at a time. Don’t ask an employee to begin another three tasks when they are visibly in the middle of completing one. Do not ONLY give negative reinforcement. It will only result in grouchy employees who you will need to chastise for being grouchy. Follow labour laws. During training, do not willfully mislead your employees about what their job will entail. Do not fire people without just cause. If you must lay-off employees, explain why. If you must fire someone, do not call it “being laid-off”.

Rules for everyone:
-Hold doors for everyone because it is a nice thing to do.
-Smile at people and say hello when you pass them, especially if the both of you are walking alone.
-If you are using a cell phone in a shopping center, put it down/ put it away/ turn it off while you are dealing with the cashier. It will make everyone’s life easier because you won’t be distracted.
-Do not accuse an entire group of people of being stupid/ ignorant/ mean/ et cetera. White/ black/ green/ male/ female/ alloftheabove/ noneoftheabove/ rich/ poor/ young/ old/ middle-aged/ scenester/ hippie/ stoner/ hip-hop/ straightedge/ punk/ et cetera people AREN’T ALL BAD. In fact, most of them are really awesome if you are nice to them. They are just scared, like most of you are of them, that you will take advantage of them if they let down their guard. If they are wrong, prove them wrong.

Prove them wrong!
You can do it!”

I wrote the following in response:
I really like how you have written this Dominic. I like how you are trying to connect many diverse people with their common humanity and encouraging people to ‘own’ their own feelings while also recognising that exploitative relationships are going to give rise to challenging feelings/thoughts/actions. I am finding more and more that most people are open to communicating honestly and respectfully the more I myself am communicating openly and honestly with others. It seems to create its own ‘positive feedback loop’ and tends to reinforce the old adage that ‘what goes around comes around’.

I like how you talk about most people being scared of each other. I think that our responses to the perceived threats (and some of these are obviously very real threats) around us leaves many people in a constant state of stress and anxiety which quickly spills over into inappropriate aggressive behaviour at times. That said, I do believe that there is a very positive side to anger and aggression and that at times it is appropriate to feel and express both. Channelling anger in creative positive ways can bring about great powerful change on a personal and social/political level. Even aggression, when push comes to shove and you are in serious physical danger of harm, has it’s place in possibly saving your life in certain situations. As my girlfriend says, ‘I may not know karate…but I do know ka-razy’.

Thanks for opening up this discussion Dominic… I think it’s a really important one.

Does anyone else want to chip in? I’d love for this dialogue to evolve into a multilogue and run for a while generating some strong positive open communication vibes that can ripple their way through the universe – especially the bit that’s very very close to us – Planet earth and all its beautifully diverse peoples and other beings. You know that thing they call the ‘Butterfly Effect’, how small changes one place can cause bigger changes in other places. Sooner or later there’s going to be what in Chaos Theory is called a ‘phase shift’ in our social, political and economic systems (revolutions if you like), and I imagine it will either be driven by the accumulated shifting consciousnesses of billions of people around the world coming together in their communities to co-operate together fairly and justly to tackle common problems, save scarce resources, deal with effects of climate change, war etc etc….or a ‘phase shift’ could be catastrophic in another way and herald the advent of a new form of fascism and tyrannical dicatorship as communities, nations, and people all over the world fight to the death over who owns what and who’s going to live or die when disaster strikes. I know which side I’m on and what sort of society I want to put my energy towards creating. One where we talk to each other openly and honestly, respecting each other and our differences, find ways of understanding each other despite our very real differences. That’s the sort of world I would like our children, grandchildren and future generations to inherit.

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About Sam Feeney

I am a counsellor, trainer and LGBTQI community activist. I write about my journey through life as a someone who lives and breathes gender and sexual difference and who cares passionately about creating powerful and sustainable radical social and political change.
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