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Monday, April 25, 2011

U is for Ultimatum

There are several concepts I've beaten about to death in this series of blogs... and I'm not going to alter that pattern today.


(Ok, I'm not sorry, not in the slightest. You'll get over it.)

Today's rehash centers on the dualistic nature of this world, as it relates to my last, entry, T is for Tribe.

Ultimatums...and Tribe? What the...?

Our language is riddled with idioms, metaphors, and so on, phrases that we bandy about in an effort to say what we want, what we'd rather avoid, what we won't do, what we INSIST on doing... you get the idea.

The phrase I want to examine today is "put your foot down."

Let's take a good look at how ridiculous that expression really is.

We say "I'm putting my foot down" as a way to say "This is how I want things to be, and I will accept no other alternative." We'll get to how silly THAT usually is in a second, but I want to indulge my penchant for literalism first. There I am, arguing... like a stork, on one leg? I mean, if I'm going to make my point by "putting my foot down"... then my foot had to be... up... in the first place, right?

No one is going to take me seriously if I'm standing on one leg while I argue. Just another scintillating example of how plain stupid our language can be, at times.

Humor aside, though, let's look at the intent behind this idea: I want what I want, without regard for what YOU want. That's what this expression says. A lot of the time, I would say even most of the time, this is a pretty crappy place to live. Mine. Gimme. That's what it boils down to.


Greed divides.

What if you said, "Ok, I hear what you're saying, and while it doesn't mesh well with how I see things, I'm sure if we work through it reasonably, we can find a place where we can both be ok with the outcome."?

Reality gets very complicated when you have multiple differently-minded people trying to use the same resources. The fact is, there are only a few approaches that can be taken. There are many variations on each, certainly, but they all simmer back down the same handful of basic paths. You can take the Greedy Path (you know, and put your foot down...), you can take the passive (passive aggressive?) path, and say, "Ok, fine, you win, I quit," or you can take the Tribe Path (not Mine and Yours, but Ours).

Aren't there times, though, when you kinda HAVE TO "put your foot down"? When you don't have a choice, really, but to draw a line in the sand and say "No further"? I believe there are, yes... but those circumstances are, in my mind, all directly and intimately connected to the idea of Tribe First.

The funny thing about Tribe First is that it's... not. It's not Tribe first.

(You confused, yet?)

See, when you live in the Tribe mentality, the fundamental premise is that you see to your own needs first, and you share any surplus you have. Generousity is good, even necessary, but when you're giving away the things you need to survive, it creates a terrible imbalance, which forces other parts of the Tribe to either watch you suffer, struggle, maybe even die, or give more than THEY can afford to spare... see where that goes?

If everyone looks to their own needs (and I do mean NEEDS) first, and then shares whatever extra they have... well, Sharing Multiplies.

So you have to set a boundry for yourself, you have to be aware, first and foremost, of whether you are meeting your own needs. Once those needs are met, you can begin to share what you have left with others.

This is where Ultimatums come in. If someone is trying to take more than they need... if someone is trying to harm the Tribe... if someone is refusing to share what they have... those are places where a certain inflexibility is almost necessary.

I'd like very much to believe that among Pathworkers, such circumstances are rare.

The rest of the time... well, like I said, Greed Divides, and issuing Ultimatums is just another way of being greedy, demanding that things be done YOUR way, without regard for the needs of others.

Remember that, the next time you feel like playing Stork.


  1. Beautiful and enlightening as always. :)

  2. I like to think the best reason to put your foot down is so you can pick up the other one and continue moving forward. Nicely done. :)

  3. YOU ARE MY HERO!!! Wow you really drove this point home and it is not easily done!! I am JuMpInG uP aNd DoWn with excitement!!! You truly have blessed us with these blogs!! Thank you for making some sense of something few people truly understand!! WOOOOOO HOOOOOOO!!!!!

  4. So much to say - such a small box.
    I've learned so much from you (and about you) during this A-Z blogging thing.
    I have begun to wonder what everyone will do now that it's coming to a close.
    Thank you for sharing - it has been much appreciated. =)