Saturday, June 1, 2013

Beyond adversarialism

I was just about to sink myself into the peace and stillness of the night’s clear sky when a phone call interrupted my reverie. The air had cooled right then; the heat of the day tempered by the setting of the sun, not an hour before.  Weary from a day, long on labor and short on the balance I prefer, I had only moments before started to lean back and relax into the comfort of my all-embracing lounge chair, recently purchased, that I was enjoying getting to know.
With eyes opened wide to the night sky’s seemingly slow motion, the only disruptrion -- a low flying chopper, overhead, had come and soon was gone. Oh my, was I gratified to let go into this evening of quietude.

Then, jarringly, in the midst of my supreme serenity, a call coming in at this “late” hour, dissonantly, interrupted my quiet. Resistant to taking it, I all but ignored the call. That is until a quick glance at the i.d. brought about a rapid change of  heart. M. Corrigan was the name lighting up my cell. This was special. Ah, thought I, this is a call, promising gain for my pain.
Hopeful that there was no emergency at this early-for-some, late-for-me hour, instantly I shifted my attention, anticipating a worthwhile opportunity in the making.  I would not be disappointed.

This could be interesting.
I am a fan of Mike Corrigan, a reporter/journalist/author, writing under the name of G.M. Corrigan. For me, Mike has a certain something, drawing out both my respect and interest. The fact that we’ve worked together on a number of particularly challenging projects and programs, during the seven years I have known him, has added to my appreciation, experiencing as I have, his insightfulness and cooperative nature, alongside a conscientious integrity of purpose.

Besides I was the one who had last called him. Perhaps this was my answer.

I was after picking Mike’s brain on a subject he is passionate about; the notion of the U.S. being a country that, while constitutionally developed to offset the natural, human instinct for the preservation of self-interest at the expense of others, seems to have, increasingly, gotten off course from its original intent; the goal being the pursuit of the good of the whole without compromising the parts.

Adversarialism is the word Mike attachs to the inherent human inclination to obstruct this kind of vision, generating in the process one snag after another. We see this failing in our current political, commercial, societal and personal processes which are close to catastrophic at this time.
I had not heard this word before I was introduced to it by Mike. Nonetheless, his particular analysis of our present systemic dysfunctionality, as well as his theses for solving these difficulties, developed in detail in his work in progress, Exposing America’s Secret Civil War, has brought me to be one of his fans. (Listen to a podcast of Mike discussing this book in progress on our Possible Society In Motion Show, May 18, 2013.)

Is Mike’s point of view singularly unique?
I have had no way of knowing yea or nay, disinclined as I am, typically, to turning my time and my life over to searching the internet.
However, today, prompted by the talk Mike and I had last night that disturbed my reverie, with much benefit, I did begin to investigate the concept, adversarialism, and was edified by finding many resources on the topic.

There is little that can expand one’s mind – and fill one’s heart more -- than taking the time to pause and have meaningful exchange with thoughtful, devoted others.  What a priceless gift to come my way, in the midst of my reluctance to let go of my quietude; one of the many rewards of choosing to lean in.
This is what lies -- beyond adversarialism.

1 comment:

  1. Anastasia,
    Thanks for your kind words and interest in my book-in-progress, “Exposing America’s Secret Civil War: Adversarialism, Polarization and the Losing of America.” You seem to have “taken a shine” to my main thesis—that run-amok, constitutional adversarialism is at the heart of American societal problems—and have even added your own refinements to the theory.

    I would like to clear up one matter, however. The concept-dynamic “adversarialism” is not necessarily a bad thing. The founders enlisted it (in the form of America’s constitutional separation of powers and bill of rights, especially in its speech freedoms) as an isometric way of diffusing government power and preventing the rise of a monarch or other dictator. It was a “fire fighting fire” provision in our governing praxis, and it was intended to keep the precincts of political power, where corruption was realistically expected, from overwhelming the civic sector’s freedoms to be competitive or cooperative, commercial or artistic, spiritual or worldly, etc., as the individual citizen saw fit.

    My thesis is that, as government grew and ultimately penetrated almost all aspects of American social organization, the government’s implicit dynamic—adversarialism—hitchhiked with it, and, along with the commensurate expansion of adversarialist corporate business, came to dominate society’s daily interactions. This produces an unhealthy bias toward competitive, transactional and often hostile human relations, which, with the repression of feelings, cooperation, spirituality and ordinary nurturing friendship that comes with this, invites mental illness, violence, rabid partisanship, government paralysis and, ultimately, autocracy and breakdown. I think we see ample signs of this condition already.

    G.M. Corrigan