Culture and Cognitive Dissonance | Orrin Woodward Leadership

When you believe you are called to build communities and the most successful person you know at building communities of people writes something profound about it, you would be foolish if you fail to re-blog it.

There is nothing more important, its proper implementation determining the destiny of nations, companies, charities, and families, than the creation of culture. Culture, a system of beliefs, values…

Source: Culture and Cognitive Dissonance | Orrin Woodward Leadership


Paying the Price

Sometimes we have the tendency to think that in order to show our loyalty, love and devotion to something, we have to demonstrate it by some grandiose and glorious sacrifice.  We may think of the everyday mundane tasks as not worth our energy and that if we are not battling in some glorious battlefield, literal or metaphoric, that we are not fighting the fight for liberty.

When I’ve heard the song “I Do It For You”  by Bryan Adams, which includes the lyrics:

…I would fight for you, I’d lie for you, Walk the wire for you, yeah I’d die for you …

Some consider this a very romantic idea, but I wonder if theywould be so enamored if, instead, it said:

… I’d forgive you, I’d tell the hard truths to you, Wash the dishes for you, yeah I’d live for you …

To me, this is far more indicative of the feeling of love.  There may be a tendency among some of us to think that the more people know who we are and the greater our prestige and celebrity, the greater our influence.

We may see people like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Mohandas Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Joan  of Arc, and other glorious heroes from history, compare our own lives to theirs and feel that we come up lacking because we are doing the glorious and grandiose things that heroes of the past accomplished that what we do in our homes every day does not matter.

In the book Taran Wanderer, Taran started his journey of self-discovery with these same misconceptions about himself and what it means to be honorable.  He hoped to find that his parents were of “noble” birth so that he could feel worthy to marry the Princess with whom he had shared many adventures.  Through his quest and his interaction with the communities of the Free Commots, he came to understand that nobility is found not only in doing the daring and gloriously heroic deeds of legends, but  also to learn to appreciate what may seem tedious and to work in the mundane everyday tasks required to create anything of quality.  He found that learning to make something of beauty does not start with simply making it, but requires an understanding of all the preparatory work that must be done to make sure it is done well and has more than a superficial quality.  He also found that to work peacefully at creating something of beauty, utility, or both brings just as much of a sense of honor as fighting alongside friends and neighbors to defend against thugs and highwaymen.

When the time comes to do the glorious deeds of which legends are created, we must not be afraid to put our life, or even our personal liberty in jeopardy in defense of the truth.  But we must also be willing to do the everyday, non-glorious tasks of working every day to support our family, spending time with and getting to know our neighbors, helping out people we find who could use a helping hand, being a good friend, keeping our home and our yard clean, and raising our children to be productive members of society.

What makes an honorable man or woman is not the size of the sacrifice asked of them, but whether they are willing to pay whatever price is required to accomplish honorable ends.  Even if the price will not bring notoriety, and others may scoff at the relative honor and glory of their assigned task in the fight for freedom, sometimes what is asked of us is that we be willing to sacrifice our pride in how others perceive us and find our pride in our contribution to building something truly worthwhile.

Technologically connected vs. individually familiar

There are definitely exceptions to the trend of being a stranger to your next door neighbor.  There are neighbors that still have backyard barbeques with each other.  There are church groups that meet together and offer support and share in happiness.  But the tendency of today’s world, full of texting, tweeting, facebooking and many other forms of electronic communication, is that we pay more attention to Facebook status updates , than in paying attention to whether our neighbor might need help starting their car in the morning.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m a big fan of Facebook and social networking.  I have been able to connect with people I haven’t seen in decades and meet new people with common interest via Facebook.  Texting my wife or kids when I’m about to leave work so they know when to expect me is more convenient for both them and for me.  Electronic communication makes keeping in touch very efficient.  However, efficiency is not always the best goal.

I’m also no saint when it comes to being familiar with my neighbors.  This is actually the point.  My goal is to stretch my own comfort zone and hope to encourage others to do it with me so that we can strengthen our neighborhoods without eliminating the convenience and value which electronic communication provides.

If we can gain closeness with those that are geographically close; without losing the connectivity, provided by electronic communication, with those that are geographically distant; then we can find the balance between the two to discover the ideal middle ground between control and freedom.

What in the world is a Free Commmot?

A community based solution for the revival of the self-sufficient family and the independent supporting community.

I got the name Free Commots from one of my all time favorite youth fiction novels, Taran Wanderer, by Lloyd Alexander.

The main character in the book, Taran, a foundling boy, goes in search of his birthright, in hopes of discovering that he has an honorable family tree.  On his quest, he gains a deeper understanding of what it means to be honorable, and he discovers his own true nobility among a collection of independent, self-supporting communities called The Free Commots.

The Free Commots were small separate communities made up of artisans and craftsman who were renown throughout the fictional land of Prydain for their expert skill.  They were also known for their independence.  They lived without owing allegiance to monarch or overlord or any central governmental institution and being governed only by something nearly unheard of in today’s culture – Self-Government.

I believe that we can start a mini-factory based on the concept of the Free Commots.

I am still trying to flesh this idea out.  It is very much in the beginning stages, so I welcome and ask for any collaboration and feedback.  If you are interested in helping me in this endeavor, please leave a comment or send me an email at spiffy3 at gmail dot com.


Thomas Paine, in his famous pamphlet, Common Sense wrote:

Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness POSITIVELY by uniting our affections, the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one: for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries BY A GOVERNMENT, which we might expect in a country WITHOUT GOVERNMENT, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer.

Mr. Paine is talking about two tendencies which exist in every individual and within every society.  Nietzsche called these two tendencies Dionysian and the Apollonian.  James Bryce in The American Commonwealth describes them as centrifugal and centripetal forces.  The way that I describe them in my own words are the impulse to be free from restraint, and the impulse to want to control circumstances to get a desired result.   I recognize this battle within myself and when I see such juxtaposition of ideas, experience has told me that the ideal of life lies somewhere in the middle.  My quest is to find that ideal and implement it on a societal level.

The Free Commots from the fictional land of Prydain are the inspiration for what I would like to accomplish in neighborhoods across the nation.  I believe that our current economic difficulties are caused by a phenomenon of modern society where people living next door to each other, or within the same neighborhood, more often than not, do not know each other on a first name basis.  They are not close enough to offer support through difficult times and share in the celebration of life’s joys.

I believe that community togetherness is the balance between the centripetal and centrifugal societal forces.