The both...and for either/or word-switch transcript
I consider today’s stren not only the most important wisdom of the seven Mind-freeing, Life-changing World-saving word-switches; it is the most important of all word-switches. Recall that word-switches selectively replace established action patterns that are no longer effective or have become dangerous.
Word-switches inspire us to apply current knowledge and common sense wisdom to create more effective solutions to today’s problems. The actual task is quite easy: Simply substitute “both … and” for our “either/or” two-category prevalent way of thinking. This stren explains why the “both...and” word-switch is the mature means of processing information. “Both...and” recognizes shared interests and goals, and promotes collaboration for mutual gain. It replaces the “either/or” thinking characteristic of immaturity that limits our perception to two opposing extremes. Either/or thinking is the root cause of bigotry, prejudice, and harmful confrontation. “Both...and” works together with the “I could” and “I allow” word-switches we require to assume responsibility for our own destiny.
All individuals first learn to process data into two either/or categories we call “dichotomous thinking.” Neither we nor our nurturers have a choice because during our prolonged immaturity we lack the knowledge and common sense wisdom to survive. We require decades to attain sufficient physical and mental maturity, sophisticated use of language, self-worth, and the wisdom required to free ourselves from our first masters, instinct and tradition. Others label the creative forces that first control us nature and nurture or fate and circumstance.
Instinct includes the survival of the fittest and fight or flight trial-and-error behaviors that were adaptive to the demands of the savage environments our early ancestors faced. Instinct is hardwired into our biology at birth. Tradition also consists of the behaviors that worked for our ancestors; but unlike instinct, we are hardwired with tradition after birth. Through repetition, our nurturer’s ways become habit. Habit passed forward from generation to generation becomes tradition. Instinct and tradition hardwire our thinking pathways before we are sufficiently mature to resist, before we can assume personal direction of our life’s experience. Our freedom organ is not fully physically mature until about the age of 18. Until we become competent in common sense interpretations, the way we think remains dominated by two-category either/or thinking. Limited in common sense wisdom for most of our first decades, we are servants to instinct and tradition.
We require protection and direction to progress to the stage of maturity when we can become our own person, what we call self-mastery. Instinct and tradition consist of the rules of living that have allowed us to remain among the 2-3% of species that have not become extinct. We benefit from the trial-and-error successes and mistakes of our ancestors. Those who survive gladly pass forward for our benefit the actions that have proven successful. The action pathways hardwired by instinct and tradition provide quick, relatively effortless, automatic proven responses to danger. They are the mindless behaviors that direct us to survive established dangers. These hardwired action pathways are powerful because they are programmed with emotion.
Let’s keep in mind the fatal shortcoming of the action patterns we passively acquire from the first masters of our thinking. Instinct and tradition direct us to effectively manage yesterday’s issues using yesterday’s level of knowledge, but yesterday’s solutions may no longer work for today’s problems. Our work-in-progress is to selectively replace action patterns that no longer work or have become dangerous with common sense solutions using today’s knowledge and wisdom.
Humankind differs from all other earth creatures by the degree to which we make ourselves powerful creators of our own destiny. Our sophisticated freedom organ creates language, mentally manipulates symbols to imagine original phenomenon, and applies will power to change the world we all share. While our creative power provides us multiple benefits, misdirected knowledge adds new problems such as weapons with ultimate destructive power, global warming, pollution, and overpopulation. Let’s consider the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to multiple tribes who already declare their intent to use them. This is our most imminent threat to our loved ones and humanity. Either/or thinking divides the world’s tribes into opposing forces, each with a mission to dominate the non-members who also have, or will soon have the power of ultimate destructive weapons. Instinct’s survival of the fittest and fight or flight perspective and tradition’s repeated use of force through intimidation and war are more likely to result in destruction of the fittest instead of survival of the fittest. When we put the test of common sense to the hardwired solutions instinct and tradition apply to new problems, we recognize theirtransparent foolishness.
Einstein told us the one most certain way to prevent catastrophe: “The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything except our modes of thinking..... a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels.” The newer way of thinking, unlike instinct and tradition, requires actively teaching ourselves to apply universal common sense wisdom to new knowledge to solve new problems. The first and most important step is substituting mature “both...and” processing of information for our established “either/or” thinking. Our work-in-progress is to make common sense thinking common.
The either/or manner of thinking we all first learn and habitually maintain biases our interpretation of data. It limits us to two conflicting categories: [either] good or evil; us or them; safe or dangerous; right or wrong; O.K. or not O.K.; win or lose; on and on. If my way, my family, my team, my values, my religion, and my flag are good, right, and just, then what is not me or not us is bad, wrong, evil, lacks respect, and may be deserving of harm. Until we change our either/or way of thinking, this root cause of bigotry, prejudice, hatred, destructive aggression, and war will persist. Tribes will continue to seek to dominate other tribes. A “tribe” may consist of any political, religious, ethnic or geographic group joined in a common interest. Either/or thinking demands that individuals maintain allegiance to local priorities. The shrinking world that makes everyone our neighbor now requires that we become citizens of the global community and contribute to its well-being.
Both...and thinking, by switching or to and, recognizes the positives and the negatives of each alternative choice, both right and wrong, good and bad, mine and yours, and the shared interests of us and them. Both ... and thinking focuses on our similarities and the power of collaboration. It promotes tolerance and common sense problem-solving; it recognizes values and the pluses and minuses of each alternative.
The persistence of the “either/or” way of thinking that we all learn during our immature years creates this dangerous creed that threatens our survival:
“My tribe’s way is right! Any non-subscriber is inferior, is deserving of punishment, even murder unless they become a member of my tribe.”
Given the present proliferation of our weapons of ultimate destruction, this outdated belief is leading to our self-annihilation; it threatens our loved ones and all of humanity. Our generation has already created sufficient nuclear destructive power to end humanity 10 times over, has put this power on 24/7 ready release status, and has installed triggers that allow the word of one person or a mechanical error to release its fury by a single act.
On an individual rather than a tribal basis, immature either/or thinking leads to the conclusion “My needs are important; others are not.” Our innate drive for dominance and physical power is modified in contemporary society to include insatiable pursuit of the symbols of power and dominance: these include money, status, immortality, and “rightness.” Whereas animals are satisfied with enough, humankind creates the symbol for infinity to expand need to greed. No matter how much wealth some individuals achieve, enough is not enough. Emotion overrules common sense intelligence as we observe Mr. Madoff and his many equivalents who enrich themselves without regard for the consequences to others.
Either/or thinking characteristically emphasizes differences; it effectively filters out our similarities. It assigns all “good” to one side and all “bad” to anything “not our side.” Our history is defined by its destructive aggression fought for “good” against “evil.” During war, “our side” is all deserving while “not our side” is evil, demonized, sub-human and therefore O.K. to treat without regard. “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.” A superior being or ideology is often depicted by all parties as favoring “our side.” Religions engage in harmful conflict on the basis of either/or thinking, even though the areas of agreement are huge and areas of disagreement are so limited. Either/or thinking supports harmful ongoing confrontation even within the same religion. Ditto for ideologies such a democracy, socialism, and communism. For example, we now witness Democrats and Republicans automatically opposed irrespective of the merits of any issue. The ubiquitous conflict we see among tribes of every sort is easily explained as the outcome of remaining stuck in either/or dichotomous thinking.
The most certain way to elevate ourselves to become humane individuals is to unite to popularize a newer way of thinking. Both...and thinking redirects our mental action pathways to apply the universal rules of logic to create effective solutions to today’s issues. We need to make common sense common.
The both...and word-switch redirects our thinking from dependence on authority to common sense problem-solving. Perception is focused on our similarities more than our differences for a very logical reason: we are far more alike than different! We share interests and goals. Both...and thinking recognizes collaboration’s power to replace the competitive need to rule others with authority. Either/or thinking commonly lacks rational explanation and is supported only by the authority of a dictator. Dictators usually offer what is purported to be common sense justification for their claim of absolute correctness; however, when viewed by non-tribe members, the transparent self-serving motives for power, greed, and the like rarely pass muster. The test of universal common sense invariably fails. Dictators, driven by emotions, usually refuse to consider common sense logic.
Use this example to keep in mind how both...and thinking differs from either/or thinking. When we look at a restaurant’s menu we find multiple choices that can be enjoyed; one is not “all” right and the others are not “all” wrong. Decisions are difficult because the real world presents us with choices that have pluses and minuses on each side. Decisions are especially difficult for the perfectionist, who becomes mired in obsessive-compulsive paralysis for fear of making a mistake. It is more appropriate for us to emphasize making our choice “right” instead of obsessing over the “right” choice. The great attraction of immaturity and the either/or thinking of human dictators is that life’s challenges are relatively effortless and stressless when the “right choice” has been clearly defined. It matters little that the outcome may be catastrophic as long as we believe at the moment we are doing the “right” thing.
Don’t overlook this critical insight: Both...and common sense processing of information emphasizes mental rehearsal to anticipate the future consequences of actions before choosing among alternative possibilities. This is the basis of prevention. Either/or thinking is hardwired to quickly initiate past solutions and resolve undesired outcomes by “cure.” We all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! This is especially true when there may not be a cure available, as with the unleashing of weapons with ultimate destructive power.
IN SUMMARY: The both...and word-switch is our tool to redirect the action pathways hardwired by instinct and habit to the newer way of mature problem-solving using universal common sense wisdom. Both...and thinking switches us from the prejudgments, bigotry, and intolerance towards “not me” or “not my tribe” to recognize our similarities, common needs, and the benefits of collaboration and sharing. It emancipates us from childhood dependency and empowers us to assume responsibility for who we are and what we become. As we proliferate weapons with ultimate destructive power that offer no second chance, the tick, tick, ticking of the doomsday clock gets louder. The more we substitute both...and for either/or thinking, the slower the ticking. Working together we can stop and reverse the clock. The alternatives are far less inviting.