Know Thyself, Accept Thy Neighbor

Consciousness Basics: We are not our thoughts

An example: Have you ever had a racist or sexist thought & wish that you hadn't? Have you watched any media in the last 50+ years? If so, you’ve been exposed both to racist and sexist imagery. Having such a disparaging thought or image cross your mind does not mean you are sexist or racist. When a situation occurs that is reminiscent of any image you’ve seen, your gorgeously designed brain runs a scenario comparing and contrasting the new information with your existing records, looking for relevant differences in patterns. Having thoughts we don't want to have can make us uncomfortable, but trying *not* to think about something disconcerting is an almost surefire way to have it to repeat over and over in your mind. Learning meditative techniques that observe thoughts without judgment allows them to flow through us without gaining energy, power or momentum.

Other techniques for framing perception, like comedy, journalism or other forms of storytelling, help us to turn uncomfortable material upside down. When bothersome stuff comes up, these alternative ways of understanding pop into our minds, transforming or replacing the garbage. Projects like The Help or Master of None help us to see race and age relations differently. Political satire can poke fun at serious stuff that angers us in other formats, disarming our defenses through laughter, and allowing for education and discourse to happen that might have otherwise eluded us.

If we treated our collective thought lives the same way we think about our collective physical sanitation needs, we'd clear away a lot of misinformation and misunderstandings before those things become problematic. Like any other garbage, stuff we don't deal with starts to pile up and rot, whether at a personal level, on our teams, in our marriages or in our communities. We don't have to be geniuses to know that regular sanitation keeps our cities & places clean and healthy, so why would we treat our citizenry with any less care, attention and dignity?

Almost everyone has experienced a super inspiring movie or concert experience, certain that it's life-changing, only to find that our daily lives rarely budge to accommodate new insight. Before we know it, everything goes back to the way it was, but not because we're all bad people or lacking in discipline or character. Without proper support streamlining & connecting our (government, self-development, entertainment) systems, falling short of who we know we can be is just sadly a part of the human experience. Our goal for governance needs to be developing an optimized citizen, then facilitating his or her movement from inspiration through productive experiences that benefit civilization. Business has a much better handle on managing regular cycles like these: from inspiration and concept design through to market & financial accountability, there is much to glean from business processes. But government isn't a business, so the design parameters, or ways we define success, are different. Free market biz *has* to be profitable or it isn't sustainable. Which is cool. But nobody's calling out for a wad of cash on their death beds. For that reason, Ava's separated the basics that sustain life as “sacred" systems that derive their success from other value matrices. Knowing how to define what true success and happiness means is a dynamic, ongoing search & activity. 

What we need is a way to connect the abundant thought-provoking resources we have to our daily lives. That's what the AVA2016 campaign is all about. Having cool places to gather to watch & discuss stuff that matters will help us know ourselves better (what personal success & happiness means-BeliefID) in order to connect more happily with each other in our communities and impact governance in relevant, ongoing ways. 

A few considerations about our thought lives: 

  • Does this situation confirm or conflict with what’s already in my mind's database?
  • In an infinite universe with infinite possibilities * of what we do or do not pay attention to, being able to recognize that we are extraordinary, pattern-making machines is essential to understanding how we make our worlds manifest. Our ability to perceive & categorize information allows us to manage more complex thought frameworks, enabling abstract thought. Without being aware of this though, we can mistake frameworks ( fiscal conservative, democrat, republican, communist, liberal) for actual or direct experience and we stop seeing the forest for the trees. With Ava's platform, taking inventory of what we've got, hood by hood, using a common sense checklist (basic human needs, preamble values & age groups) we can walk a block and ask, “If I had to get a 6 year old to a bathroom quickly, where would I go?" That way, safe public restrooms can return to our places. If we have people sleeping outside of a vacant building, we're going to find out who owns the property and if it could be a candidate for reuse, then connect with everyone else across the country who's using the same inventory lists in their hoods so we can find financial efficiencies, vs. wait for some government program that isn't to do it for us or to expect our our over-burdened, but ever valiant non-profits to shore it up for us. We *have* people with know how & who care. We just need agile governance design systems to direct the appropriate resources to our qualified wayfinders. 
  • Ava’s #NeighborhoodStyleGuide and #LocalFlavor campaign elements are about learning to look and see those patterns in our #BrandUSA places. There are so many great thought leaders in brand and business development who can lead and teach us in these areas. A quick glance at my own shelf/playlists: I have "Lovemarks: the Future Beyond Brands" by Kevin Roberts, Zappo's "Delivering Happiness" by Tony Hsieh, "Pour Your Heart Into It" by Starbuck's Howard Schultz. A few modern biz classics from Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin as well. 
  • By comparing and contrasting sometimes seemingly absurd examples, we can cut through the collective cobwebs of our thinking. This is an essential element of storytelling and why comedy & political satire has been so effective for centuries. Running for President as a comic character with a teaching agenda was inspired by people like Jon Stewart, Stephen ColbertBill Maher & John Oliver.
  • What is Healthy?  Ava suggests introducing a simple 1-10 standard of some kind. Healthy living organisms are in balance in 4-6 ranges. Stressed with overwhelm of positive currents in 7-10 (i.e. we're *delighted* to be parents of a new baby, but our little newborn joy has shifted our life experience in ways abnormal to us, moving us to a 9. Stressed with negative impacts (i.e. death of a close relative) lowers the number 1,2,3. We probably don't want a wellness zero, eh? Why? Because we all frame reality in some way, and it's easy to disregard another's discomfort if you frame your own experience as having been more painful. With ranges, the correct response to "You don't know me bitch" can be, "You're absolutely correct. I don't. But I do know that any human being that's gone from a 6 to a 2 in just a few days must be suffering. Can I take something off your plate? The technology of compassion.