Every person is the hero of their own story. It isn’t often conscious or intentional, but we are almost always more willing to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt than we are to give it to someone else. After all, we have access to our own internal motivations, intentions and the bigger picture in a way no one else does. With everyone else, we have only what we experience of them, and the stories we tell ourselves that interpret that data.
What is generally true of our individual story is also generally true of our collective story. When “I” becomes “we,” it is easier to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt than it is “them.”
Early hominins appeared in Africa around 2 million years ago. From then, through the emergence of our own species around 200,000 years ago, our ancestors lived in small groups of hunter gatherers until the emergence of permanent agricultural communities about 10,000 years ago. Since 99.995% of the history of hominins has been circumscribed by small bands operating for the most part self-sufficiently, thinking in terms of “us” and “them” seems inevitable.
Arguably, the biggest threat to the survival of our species are the very things that allowed us to survive this long. “Us” and “them” may be a genetic predisposition, but learning how to draw our circles wider is life’s new demand.
We need a bigger “us.”
Today is the last day to enter my Instagram giveaway. Winners will be selected at 5 PM. Prizes include an hour of free coaching with me and copies of two books: Bill Plotkin’s Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche and Jennifer Swanson’s book What They See: How to Stand Out and Shine in Your New Job. If you’re on Instagram, here’s how you can enter.
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