October 25, 2011

My top five strengths: #3, Connectedness

About two years ago, I did this thing called Strengths Finder 2.0 at Day Job.  In 2011 I will blog about my top strengths and perhaps about my least strengthful parts of me.

Strength #3:  Connectedness
People strong in Connectedness believe that all things are linked, that there are few true coincidences, and that all events have some sort of reason.

I'm not sure I totally buy into the "all events have a reason" thing. I don't believe there is a "reason" for things like this and this and this. But that's not really what Connectedness is about. It's not about rationalizing tragedy, whether for personal comfort or political or religious purposes.

Instead, it's more like the Tao or The Force. Or both, at the same time. That is, all things are connected in a way that we can not (yet) measure. Call it life force, collective consciousness, fate, dharma, or whatever. I'd prefer we not call it God, though, because this is not a Religious thing. Connectedness has nothing to worship, no rites or rituals, no borders or boundaries to be recognized and maintained and warred over.

Science identifies three fundamental natural forces: gravity, electromagnetism, and nuclear forces. We can calculate these physical forces, measure and predict them, use them to explain and describe the world around us. Physical properties such as mass and electrical charge, and conditions such as proximity, affect the strength of these forces. Might there not be another fundamental force that also governs attraction, repulsion, friction, and tension--among living things? We can't (yet) measure it, but I am certain of its existence.

For a long, long time I called myself an atheist. I detest organized Religion because it is a social structure that by its very nature draws a bright line between good people and everyone else. Its very purpose is to create a social discrimination. Although Religion is not the cause of every conflict through history, it has provided a very willing and capable channel through which the worst in people have be exploited. And that continues today.

Recently, however, I've come to understand that I do indeed have a faith. Some of my friends encourage me to call it God, or to recognize it as what they call God. But that's not right. Might as well substitute another name for God--Zeus, or Odin, or The Dude. They all make just as much sense, since they all rely on a manifestation that I simply don't agree with.

I am sure there is some Religion out there that has at its core the same belief that I'm failing to explain here. But I don't want to know it because then I'd have to consider myself to be of that faith, right? And that is counter to my beliefs. If everyone is connected, and if everyone is equally legitimate, then how could I possibly join a group that by its very existence implies that everyone outside the group is inferior?

I don't love everyone. I don't even like most people. There are some I can barely tolerate. But I accept everyone and try to treat them with respect, courtesy, kindness, and trust. We are all connected, and if I cause someone pain then that will come back to me at some point. Similarly, if I treat people right, that will come back to me also. I have seen this happen in all aspects of my life. And it's this belief, I think, that guides me in my interactions with others.

Although I'm far from perfect and can snap like any person does from time to time, I hope the people that really know me would say I'm even tempered, fair, generous, kind, and respectful. Because we're all made from the same stuff, and we're all relying on each other.