X-mass Eve dinner 2020.
A nice bunch of people together around a nicely decorated Christmas table. One of the guests turns out to be a famous songwriter and singer. I listened to his songs when I was younger and now he’s sitting right next to me.
There is a sense of excitement in the room.
One of the other guests prepares the food. He’s a chef cook so apart from it being x-mass Eve, we are looking forward to a night with delicious food, good wines and a different range of people, all living on Ibiza.
In these few days in the year, we have the incentive to overcome our differences and meet us in where we are human. In the house of my friend that evening in Ibiza we do a great job. Until the moment Covid stuck its ugly head around the corner.
The moment of the great division arrives when somebody mentions; “We are in a 3rd world war”.
I admit, not a great moment to talk about wars on X-mass eve.
Here comes the sign of this incredibly in-comprehensive times: We can’t agree on the war theme. I mean, being in a war should be obvious for everybody. Fighter jets bombing the hell out of cities and wrong armies fighting against the liberators, right?
No. we can’t agree on consensus reality. Three of us are sure we are in a world war, two find this ridiculous, and one doesn’t really know.
And then war breaks loose at our x-mass table.
Arguments flying over the exquisite lamb in aubergine curry. Sentences like; “Wake the F*CK up” smearing right between bottles of Chardonnay and Cava.
One thing becomes painfully clear to me;
The real war that is going on is this great divide between people.
That evening I decide my mission for 2021 is to bring people together.
People that are caught up in narrative warfare in the trenches of social media. The ideological refugees of these times that find themselves attacked by dis-information bombs. People in raging culture wars without realizing their limbic system is hijacked by smart A.I driven algorithms. People that cancel others over a tweet.
This x-mass evening is my perfect start. My test ground for a uniting strategy. Something everybody can apply when separation beats unity.
This is what I did. And this is what you can to for unity to beat separation.
Be present that you have fallen in the separation trap
This piece is not about denying the hot topics of these times. We need discussion, discourses, debates. We need good sense-making for good collective choice-making.
The hottest issue of all is the staggering amount of separation between us, humans, in ordinary day to day life.
This has made our reality increasingly disturbing. We used to react more calm and analytical some decades ago. At least we had a broad reality consensus shared with a big in-group that would provide us with safety. Think political parties in the 80ies, religion, new-age groups, cultural groups, being a fan of a football club.
in 2020, our reality is our biased data point driven social media scroll. Imagine, we are not even allowed to come together! This is increasingly disturbing. We get overwhelmed with dis-information and stuff that makes us stick at the screen more.
In this alarming state of non-belonging, of unsafety and feeling attacked 24/7 by narrative warfare, indoctrination and bad news, we counter-attack what is sometimes most close to us.
I’ve heard now so many stories on how the Covid narrative is dividing complete families.
Especially for these situations, this article might help. Get together again, fight for your unity with being present to what is actually going on on a psychological level.
The first step is realizing that the group you are in has fallen into the separation trap, and then make this visible, conscious, without pointing a finger of blaming anybody. It’s the sign of our times.
Set and speak your intention and find fellow support
When I noticed war broke loose at the table, I stopped the fired-up discussion and asked for attention. Firstly I made everybody aware of the separation trap. And after that sank in, I clearly spoke these words:
The world has become too complicated to solve all the issues in one head. We need a collective wisdom, a collective intelligence. For this, we need to realize that beyond our opinions, we are one humanity. We are one. In our unity lies our strength.
The second part was to find allies.
It is my intention this evening to focus only on these uniting aspects, not on what divides us. Who is with me?
This sentence made my friends at the table aware that dividing energy arose just from opinions, from trying to make sense of a world that has gone far beyond comprehension.
The reality was, at that moment, that we were 6 humans sitting around a table with great food, great wines and a common culture to celebrate. (We are all Dutchies). The sentence made the people aware that we were not going to solve the topic on the 3rd world war over a x-mass dinner.
Us staying united was, in fact, a part of the puzzle, a part of the solution and the best thing to do that evening.
Speak to what unites any group
What I did was speaking to what united us that evening.
The uniting binding factor was our passion for Ibiza and that we all lived on Ibiza for more than 10 years already.
The other uniting factor was music played from a small speaker. One pro 3rd wold war person suddenly found a common interest with a non-war believer in a famous American singer-songwriter.
It took them on a detour from the dividing topic to a place of shared passion and the magic of art. Before we knew it we were all talking about the music of our youth.
We were only a few steps away from going to have a dance altogether and just…be…happy.
Acknowledge that everybody has at least some truth
Yes, there is truth in each of us. Even if it is 1%. This truth is called signal, and the rest is noise.
Learn to discern the signal through the noise. Develop to listen with your heart more instead of with your head.
In the world of that person across the table, the thing they stand for, there is truth in there.
They are unique beings. They are not like you. They come from different backgrounds, different families, different careers and upbringings. Widen your range of truth. This will make you grow as a human being.
This starts with realizing that your truth is not, and never can be THE truth.
It is just a part of it, coming from your experience, wisdom, the life lessons you had. Instead of shouting your truth over the table, listen.
The amazing symbolic thing that happened this 2020 x-mass eve was that the most famous song the Dutch songwriter had made was a song about the Berlin wall. The Western symbol of separation caused by sheer ideology.
The wall came down, but the world is more divided than ever.
Zoom out. Focus on what makes us human, on what makes us vulnerable, what unites us.
It is us, the people, that can unite us again. That will start with the moment we actually see this great divide instead of being part of it. Separation is in fact a big illusion. Unity and being interconnected is our natural state. Let’s start our travel home in 2021 and beyond by being more united than ever.