I’m going to go out on a limb here (don’t I always?) and say that the purpose of life is human connection. This is the one thing worth struggling for. We experience it in our movements as solidarity, and there’s nothing quite like it.
Individualism is the ideology of capitalism, and while capitalism hasn’t collapsed yet (it will, it will), we need to begin the transformation to the next phase of social evolution, which is a revolution in consciousness, from a focus on the “I” to a focus on the “We.”
There’s a relatively simple technology that we use in organizing parents that fosters human connection. Many others use this technology as well, a derivative of the various incarnations of the co-counseling movement. We call this technology a dyad. Others call it a minisession or a pair-share. The simple yet profound idea is for people, in pairs, to take turns listening to each other. In our parent workshops, we start out with 3 minutes each way, gradually going up to 5 minutes. I personally do 40 minutes each way about 6 times a month with trusted co-counselors, but 3 or 5 minutes is a great start.
We divide people in pairs. We use a timer. In our workshops, we generally provide a prompt, like: “How do you take care of yourself?” but we tell people it’s their time and they can talk about anything they want, from their difficulty parking to trouble with their families. We encourage people to go deep and if emotion comes up, release it. Crying is good. Crying is healing. We also enforce strict confidentiality: what’s said in the dyad, stays in the dyad. We encourage people to talk about their own issues rather than piggybacking off their partners share.
When I first started learning this technique about 25 years ago, I forced my son to have a dyad with me when he got into some trouble. I used my 5 minutes to tell him what I appreciated about him. He used his 5 minutes to open up to me about his struggles trying to figure out what to do with his life. We only did it twice, but the reverberations from the closeness we achieved echo to this day.
It doesn’t always work that well. I tried a similar thing with my younger son, and when it was his time, he used it to say nothing at all. Not everyone is comfortable sharing.
There’s no shortcut to solidarity. I like to think of the dyad process as knitting the fabric of the new society. No one ever gets listened to enough. Almost every meeting will go more smoothly if we use a dyad at the beginning so people feel less of a need to use the meeting to get attention. The more we can listen to each other, the closer we will get to the kind of society we – or 99% of us – want or need, one which emphasizes human connection instead of competition, division, and individualism. Please do try this at home.