If we are the steward of a Source Idea to create a beautiful Syntropic Enterprise – a deep desire to leave everything better for everything you and your business do – then we must be ever vigilant to the micro violations, the little atrocities, that, like thieves in the night, steal the essence of what we hold so dear.
We generally go from exceptional to mediocre gradually. From Syntropic to Entropic. Just as we go from integrity to corruption, one micro transgression at a time.
Let’s explore little atrocities – those seemingly innocuous violations that we step over again and again. These little atrocities become the pathway to major atrocities, horrible crimes, and terrible acts by humans towards each other and earth.
Are you, like me, tired of the politicians and business leaders who lie as if lying is both common and acceptable? Of greenwashing? Of spin and obfuscation? Do you long for integrity, honesty, beauty, care and love in everything that humans do together, and to our creatures and earth?
Recognise that this behaviour from politicians and leaders happens because collectively we stepped over the first violation made by them. We did nothing to stop it. And hence it paved the way for its repeat, on repeat.
Annex Crimea? OK! Not pay workers a living wage because we can do this? OK! Agree to the slow monopolisation of the media until we are sunk in propaganda? OK! Apply some greenwashing to this business unit while the other business unit continues its violence of extraction and exploitation? OK!
There are always the outliers and activists who stand up to these little atrocities when they first arise. Sadly these people are few, they are often branded as whistleblowers, and in our current culture, seen as criminals. I bow in deep respect to these brave people.
Show me any despicable, cruel, terrifying act by humans upon other humans and Earth and her creatures, and we can trace it back to the first little atrocity. The first agreement we made to accept that very first violation.
We get lies and corruption BY OUR AGREEMENT.
If we want to reclaim our personal power, and I really do, then we might start with the recognition that we said yes to things we find deeply disturbing when they felt innocuous.
The King of Denmark, during World War Two, refused to allow the Jewish people of Denmark to be identified as Jews by wearing a yellow armband because he knew it was the first act of violation, the first little atrocity, against a whole race of people. He stood alone amongst the other leaders in Europe in this action.
To stand against a little atrocity takes courage and LOVE. Love for something greater than us. Love for a future. For dignity. For justice and beauty. We must care more about that future than we care about what people think of us speaking out.
I honour Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowdon, and Julian Assange. They stood against terrible atrocities that the rest of the world preferred to ignore.
Even when exposed to what these people and others uncovered we often did not want to fully know. For with that knowledge comes the responsibility to act. And that is a heavy responsibility indeed.
Here is how we might stop agreeing to little atrocities.
In our interiors –
The biggest quest is always the interior one. The moment by moment, daily commitments to stay true to ourselves, our values, our knowing and our self-care.
How easy it is to violate our own promises…the precious ones we make to ourselves? How easy is it to be tempted to stray from the path we know is our path?
We do not violate ourselves in one big act, rather we build a path, brick by brick, little atrocity by little atrocity…until we find ourselves in a place where we do not like who we are, what we do, or how we got there.
It happens like this.
You make a promise to yourself. No one else is witness to this promise.
You do not keep the promise.
This happens again and again, hundreds of times. You may even have brilliant justifications and excuses for why you cannot keep your promise to yourself.
Yet the truth is, the promise was a lie. And you probably knew that it was a lie the moment you made the promise.
This is how we cultivate the grounds for self-deception. Self-deception leads to a lack of self-regard and a lack of self-trust.
We have lost integrity at our core, with ourselves.
I know this place. It is a festering, horrid place. Life becomes hard and heavy.
How to be in integrity with ourselves:
Make ONLY promises to yourself that you know you will keep, as if your life and self-respect depend upon it. Because it does.
If you know that you will not keep a promise to yourself instead say something like this. “I know I would like to do this, to make this promise, yet I am not really committed to it. Therefore it is a wish.”
This might sound pedantic. Trite even! After all, we have only ourselves as witnesses to this inner dialogue.
Yet it is the ground for our self-respect, or lack of self-respect.
This is the way to begin restoring the most precious of our personal assets, the ability to like, trust and respect ourselves.
In our actions in the world with others;
We make a promise to another or others and then fail to keep our promise. Now there are two or more parties involved and therefore two or more responsibilities.
We who made and violated our promise, and the person or people we made and violated the promise to. Both parties are responsible for keeping the promise.
If I made the promise and then violated it it is my responsibility to speak of my failure to the people I made the promise to and to seek a new agreement. Ideally, I do not defend or justify my failure in keeping my promise. I simply own my lack of integrity in not keeping my promise and negotiate a new agreement.
At the same time, those who receive a promise have a responsibility to speak to the failed promise. If we do not speak to the failed promise, we do, BY AGREEMENT, accept the behaviour of the other. That is on us. We are now responsible for any ongoing consequence of our silence.
There are many reasons we might step over someone’s promise to us. Fear of confrontation, wanting to be liked, not wanting to rock the boat, our own insecurity…
We might not know how to do this with confidence. (We teach the skills of how to have these types of conversations in the Dare to Care program, opening for enrolment in September 2022.)
The actions of our enterprise to the world
Is our enterprise its word?
Do we keep our promises as an enterprise?
Do we attend to the mistakes we make, accept responsibility with grace, learn from the experience and then put in place systems and structures that will prevent a repeat of the mistake?
In Syntropic World we teach that every Source Idea has its own Pattern Integrity. A unique expression of values, codes, rules and agreements that are integral to the Source Idea.
If we violate the Pattern Integrity as we bring our idea to life, this is a little atrocity.
It happens gradually then quickly.
Because Syntropic Enterprises are the rare form of enterprise working within a system that is designed to be entropic, we know that most Syntropic Enterprises will face what many businesses face. They come up against a seemingly impossible obstacle. For example, they need to cut costs to pay people, or to buy the quality raw ingredients to make artisan products, or they need to agree to predatory capital to get to the next stage of their business.
On it goes.
It is at this very intersection, this moment when we stand in front of the seemingly impossible obstacle, that we are tested.
Do we capitulate and violate the Pattern Integrity of the idea we are stewarding? Or do we hold steady? Ask different questions? Look to places and people we have not considered? Reach out to others? Get feedback? Wait? Wait some more? Stand on our heads metaphorically to see things differently?
This is the point of tension. The greatest test. The place where innovative thinking is birthed.
I know it well. It is so easy to capitulate at this very point. Sometimes the exhaustion from holding the Pattern Integrity as sacred becomes too much. This is why we need community. Support. To be held by others as we hold.
In a world saturated with scale, mass, multiples and sameness, the joy of finding a crafted, boutique, amazing business that truly honours the Pattern Integrity of that original Source Idea is like discovering a lost treasure.
Our souls come alive when we find extraordinary, exceptional, cared for, crafted enterprises and businesses..be that food, design, events, coffee, customer service or education.
The world is parched for delight. Longing for integrity.
What are you building? A business of delight? A Syntropic Enterprise that leaves everything better? Where integrity is the essence of everything beautiful and alive?
If so, please attend to the little atrocities. They can be incredibly subtle, clothed in business-as-usual. You can sense them by the dissonance you feel, the pattern interrupts that have you pause.
Do pause. Choose integrity. Live light. Choose syntropy. The path forward will be revealed.