Welcome to stren #46.  This may be the most unsettling of our collection of wisdoms. It points the finger at ourselves as the source of the imminent catastrophe we face.  The greatest danger to humanity is the failure of our society, our educational institutions and leaders (that’s “us”!) to teach our citizens common sense problem-solving.  We have yet to make common sense common.  Here is the explanation.  Instinct and tradition are dictators!  They hardwire our thinking to process information into two opposing categories.  Either/or thinking emphasizes differences.  There is “our way or the wrong way.”  What is not “good” must be “evil or bad.”  The action outcome of either/or thinking can be summarized as follows:

My way is absolutely good and right.  Not my way is absolutely evil, bad, and wrong.  Good is therefore justified in ridding itself of evil.

We mindlessly support blaming others, blaming ourselves, punishment, and winning for our tribe irrespective of costs.  Either/or thinking is the reason we have bigotry, prejudice, and harmful, win/lose confrontations.  It is why our history is defined by a series of wars.  Either/or thinking is the root cause of greed; “enough” does not exist because the “other” might have more than we do.  We believe that one side is superior and it must be our side.  Either/or thinking demands that we continue to use our new knowledge to create and unleash more powerful weapons until we bring about the triumph of “good” and eliminate “evil.”  Given today’s weapons with ultimate destructive power, mutual annihilation is a likely outcome.

Dictators demand that everyone do what they say is good or right.  They usually punish when anything other than their prescribed path is followed.  Unfortunately, too many dictators emphasize their own self-serving interests without regard for others’ well-being.  The blaming-in mental action pathway, i.e. guilt, is a favorite method of those dictators who would forever hold their charge a prisoner of the traditions they espouse. Moving forward to the self-mastery stage of independent thinking is prohibited.   

          Both...and thinking recognizes that we are more alike than different.  We each have our positive and negatives.  We want to think our tribe is or should be superior, but common sense knowledge and wisdom recognizes we share common interests.  Humankind is of the same family.  Each tribe desires that their children survive and thrive, and have a good life that includes love, freedom, peace and happiness.  Our transition from the either/or thinking to both...and thinking frees us from dictators.  Tradition demands that we continue to remain at the level of our ancestors and their level of knowledge.  Elevating our way of thinking requires that we apply common sense wisdom to learn from our mistakes, not punish ourselves.  The newer way of common sense thinking empowers us to evaluate the authority of instinct, tradition, and humandictators and, when appropriate, rebel from tradition.