A few years ago I was visiting a friend of mine who lives near Guilford. During my stay I played a board game with his four boys. I won three games on the trot, and my friend was curious about how I had managed it. His boys are very smart, and had played this game many times before, but I hadn’t. He watched intently as we played again. What became apparent was that I was utilising their natural sibling rivalry to make them compete aggressively against each other. This weakened them all, allowing me to sneak through and win. Once his boys were armed with this information I didn’t win another game. Energy that we call ‘bad’ subdivides and separates, energy which we call ‘good’ unifies, and is expansive.
In the last few weeks we have witnessed the poisoning of a Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury. This has plunged the West and Russia into a deeper phase of a New Cold War. After the ending of the old Cold War in 1991 our politicians promised a peace dividend, as armaments expenditure could be focused more productively elsewhere. The prospect of the planet being turned into a smouldering, radioactive wasteland seemed to have receded. Since then the Western led transition of the Russian economy into a market based system has faltered. And now Russia resembles an oligarchy, with a few rich and powerful people pulling the strings. The most important of whom is ex-KGB officer Vladimir Putin. He has effectively been in power since 1999, and shows no sign of allowing a true democratic system to flourish. Though very popular at home, Putin seems to be particularly unpopular with Western governments. There was the invasion and annexation of parts of Georgia in 2008. The annexation of the Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, together with the support for Russian speaking Ukrainian separatist in the east of Ukraine. Additionally Russia has supported the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, in opposition to Western desires to see him removed. In the USA the Democrats are blaming Russian interference for losing the 2016 election. Through the ongoing Mueller Investigation, there is an attempt to prove collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Under Putin Russia has been more assertive in protecting its own perceived interests, and Russian speaking people in particular. Meanwhile, Western politicians have been complaining that “Russia isn’t playing by the rules”. Ladies and gentlemen, this is not a game. The prosperity and safety of this planet can only come from cooperation and collaboration, not from division and competition.
Since this week sees the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, it is instructive to reflect on his message of unity. He is a towering example of leadership based on commonality and cooperation. He beautifully and courageously articulated his vision, mobilising people towards positive change. By his leadership he demonstrated to us what is possible, not just in terms of dissolving racial segregation, but within all aspects of society. White, black, male, female, gay, straight, young, old, rich, poor, east, west, north, south, left and right. Through categorisation by type we are weak, but through unity, collectively we strong. Only by transcending the artificial labels of separation, can all the peoples of this planet overcome the real challenges that we face. We urgently need to set aside the small minded, playground spats that we are currently focused on. There are no prizes for being last man standing on a barren lifeless planet.
There is a process in the NLP toolkit that can be used in negotiations to establish common purpose. It is predicated on moving to higher levels of abstraction, thereby removing the tactic of sub-division. We are all human, and we all live together on this one small blue planet. Let’s bury our differences, instead of each other, and find ways to work together. When you look for, or offer leadership do so from the perspective of unity. Start to see the artificial sub-divisions in the world more clearly. Though this may be too far, and too soon for many people, we do not even need the identification by country that we like to pride ourselves in. From now on, perhaps, the passions aroused by a colourful flag should be expressed only on the sports field, and nowhere else.
“We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” Martin Luther King