On President’s Day, it’s useful to remember that meaning and mattering matter more now than ever before.
This is reflected in the shift from important impersonal interactions at scale to important personal interactions between individuals. Meaning has always come from relationships and the community and family has always been the first incubator for the rules and traditions of relationships.
But the family incubator is breaking and changing—and has been for some time now.
This breaking and transforming leads to conflicts, disagreements, and disputes that loom beneath larger relationships with their power, their virulence, and their ability to last. Mattering generated through disagreement—what we are against as opposed to what we are for—is the great sorting, occurring as societies and cultures shift from a post-Industrial Revolution landscape to whatever comes after that.
When meaning and mattering only come from the narrative of conflict, the pure function of dysfunction becomes the call of the day, and the larger narrative shatters into a thousand pieces of glass.
What are we to do?
Relationships between people are still going to be the key to overcoming the dysfunction of the broken incubator of family, tribe, and community. Relationships, no matter the overall structure behind them, still matter more than the gossamer of tradition, economics, location, or history.
Narratives between relationships are going to become more strained and less collaborative because the difference between your tribe’s meaning and my tribe’s meaning matters more than the similarities we may share across tribes.
Meaning and mattering will become more elusive to attain, and harder to maintain, as the bonds that used to hold—tradition, family, religion, even the nation state itself—fray from the edges to the center, and those in authority (presidents, politicians, prime ministers) lose their power (but not their authority).
People seek meaning above all else, whether through conflicts, or through relationships. Joining across artificial boundaries pushes this meaning through conflict and relationship to a whole new frontier for humanity.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: email@example.com