What if?

We just arrived home from a trip through northern France: the first trip abroad since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020. Both my partner and her 16-year-old son have a vivid interest in history and for her son, an interest in war can be added. So, we ended up visiting several memorial sites of both world wars: around the Ligne Maginot (Fort Schoenenbourg), Verdun (Douaumont), Albert (Battle of the Somme), Dunkerque (Operation Dynamo) and of course the Normandy landing beaches.

Around Verdun we saw that 27 million grenades shot over a period of several months still leave many stretches of land looking restless like a rain puddle in a summer’s thunderstorm. We walked through trenches that were still intact (after more than 100 years!), we walked through villages that were completely destroyed and never rebuilt and we saw countless and countless crosses on cemeteries. Countless and countless deceased men. From all countries involved.

And it left us completely baffled. Shocked. And sad. So inconceivably many lives lost. So much suffering. So much destruction. For what exactly?

As mankind, we do not seem to learn a lot from these gruesome experiences. Engaging in armed conflict seems to be part of our standard repertoire, how absurd that may sound. The massive suffering that comes with waging war apparently gets forgotten right after the war is over. I’m well aware that historians can explain what circumstances led to each war and how these led to the rational or perceived inevitable decision to go to war.

It left me wondering what would have happened if everyone concerned would have had the awareness and the possibility to go to their point of stillness. To allow the right hemisphere in any case to participate in the conversations. What would have happened? What would have happened if all concerned would have been able to listen deeply to each other? To allow the intelligence of the right hemisphere to play its role as well? Maybe the parties would have started to listen to what each of them really cares about. And when the conversations take place at a deeper level, there’s less worry about what the left hemisphere is frightened of (which usually is about not having enough to survive).

Of course, I can’t be sure about what the outcome would have been back then. What I do see is how the people I work with show up differently when they practice stillness. They are much better capable of being in a dynamic complex situation that doesn’t have a clearly defined path forward. They can allow the path to show itself. They are able to look below the dramatic events at a surface level. And they become much better at listening. So, how do you think today’s turbulent and complex world would be different if all of us could and would access our point of stillness on a daily basis? How would your world be different?

#wholebrain #stillness #noticing #listening #radicallybetter

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