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Excerpts from "Changing Your Stripes"


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Inescapable Impact Always
by Matt Moody, Ph.D. 

Self and others are intrinsically tied in communicative bonds that breathe meaning and purpose into Life. Human beings communicate in every waking moment; even if you consciously try otherwise, you cannot NOT communicate. Every act communicates, and every communication carries impact. Because linguistic relations are ever impact-full, you are tied to others in bonds of moral obligation. Human life is a constraining context of mutual impact, where decisions of moral influence are made continuously.

Even in silence, meaning is conveyed continually through bodily positions, gestures, and doings. Further, inward motives show on our face and in our eyes; others can sense our emotional moods and motives. Every subtle message of a speaker . . . and every delicate discernment by a listener supplies influence. When no verbal words are spoken and no particular intent or emotion is held, still there is impact received and sent solely through physical presence. Just being there provides to others an audience that alters performance.

The Heisenberg Effect. German physicist Werner Heisenberg, founder of quantum mechanics and winner of the 1932 Nobel Prize, maintained that it is impossible for a scientist to observe any living organism without necessarily changing it; observation alone changes the behavior of the observed. "The Heisenberg Effect" means that no one does, or can, enact the same performance before an audience, compared to unobserved rehearsals. Further, people need only imagine they are under observation, and the perception of being observed will inevitably alter behavior.

* * * * *
Human Beings live together in Bonds of Mutual-Impact.
This is precisely why "Life is a Set Up," . . . because
Living Life means: Inescapable Impact Always.
 * * * * * 

William James, who wrote the first American psychology text book in 1890, recognized that social relations inherently promote perpetual impact, stating that a person "has as many different social selves as there are distinct groups of persons about whose opinion he cares; he generally shows a different side of himself to each of these different groups."

Philosopher Chauncey Riddle also acknowledged this human tendency to adjust responsively to each particular life-context; he maintained, "We create ourselves in every relationship."

This responsive influence of behavior occurs not only through passive physical presence, but also the imagined presence of others, and when relations become proactive impact increases proportionately. In both active & passive scenarios, behavior is mutually influenced and altered.

This means that all communicative & physical impact will necessarily land on either side . . . of a moral divide: Every expressive, meaning-full moment delivers influence felt in two basic ways:

Impact that furthers fulfillment
Impact that impedes
personal progress

These two types of moral impact are sent and received reciprocally. Recognition of this moral context of inevitable impact is reflected in marital vows made between man & wife: "For better or for worse."

Two Ways of Being. Through language, the self is inseparably tied to others through communicative necessity. Life's purpose comes alive via the meaning made in everyday dialogue. Human life unavoidably involves being engaged in an ongoing discourse that is symbolic, meaningful, and mutually impactful.

Philosopher Martin Buber understood this inherent connectedness and maintained that human relations manifest in two fundamental ways, two ways of being: "I-Thou" or "I-It." These ways-of-being-together are two ways of impacting others "for better, or for worse."

* * * * *
Every human act . . . has an impact.
By virtue of mutually impactful relations,
the human world is inherently a moral context.
We inescapably impact each other to either:
Betterment or Detriment.
 * * * * * 

Buber writes specifically about the "being" aspect of self. He described a human self as inseparable from others and conveyed that connectedness with hyphenated words: "I-Thou" and "I-It."

By connecting two individual words with a hyphen, Buber symbolizes a unifying of two separate embodied beings into a one unity of relational being: "I-Thou" or "I-It." Buber's notion reinforces the previous explanations of the verb-self—a relational self located in the expressive space between two human bodies.

For Buber, "I-Thou" establishes the world of respectful relations. In the "I-Thou" world, the other is real before the I; the other is esteemed like the I; the responsibility of an I for a Thou is the bond of human love. "I-Thou" means that others are always empathically approached as an end, and not a means.

In contrast to "I-Thou" relations of respect and regard, human beings can also live and perceive the world as "I-It." In this way of being and way of seeing, the other is not emotionally real to the I, the other is not esteemed like the I, and the other is a surreal entity to be used as a means for I. In relations of "I-It," the bond of human love is broken by self-serving action and intent. "I-It" means that self and others are entangled in bonds of anguish.

"I-It" is a way of being that manifests commonly in relations with strangers or infrequent associates, especially in the buzz of big cities; the "I-It" way of being can also appear in relations of family, friends, and ironically between those who call themselves "lovers." Within the "I-It" way of being there may be compelling physical chemistry and attraction, still the richest bonds of love are only realized . . . in the realm of "I-Thou." In the mutually impactful conversation called "life," two alternatives are perpetually possible, and one choice makes the difference between the best life you can live, OR something less:

* * * * *
As I face my fellow beings,
I can impact others to their growth and betterment,
in Bonds of Love, . . . "I-Thou."

OR I can "live" something less,
and impact others to their loss and detriment,
in Bonds of Anguish, . . . "I-It."

In every moment there is opportunity to Be-Loving,
and as I fail to embrace this Way-of-Being, by default
I choose something less . . . I am something less.
* * * * *

Whether you acknowledge it or not, who you are IS most fundamentally manifest by the selfish or empathic intents of your heart. Recalling the words of Jesus, "From the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh." Just as the mouth speaks according to the conditions of one's heart, it also follows that from the abundance of the heart, the mind thinketh and the eyes seeth.

Your intent of heart determines your way of being with others, and thus your way of seeing the world as well. As Stephen Covey states:

* * * * *
"You don't see the world as it is, you see it according to who You are."
 * * * * *

Thus, you do not perceive your world as raw facts only—facts do not speak for themselves, they require interpretation. It is according to your Acts—whether empathic or selfish—that you bring to the Facts of your world . . . a particular perception and interpretation.

* * * * *
I bring to my world, perceptions of dismay and darkness,
because of the darkness within me. I see and
experience my world with anxiousness,
because of my own inner anguish;
I see falsely, . . . because I am false.
My worldview Changes . . . as I Change.
As I choose Love, I see a World that is only
seen and experienced through the eyes of Love:
A vibrant & exciting World full of hope & opportunity.
* * * * *

When you are being empathic you are not only being Loving, your very Being IS Love; and Being Love is the highest attainment of existence and purpose — that is why the Bible declares: "God is love" (1 John 4:16)

Human Be-ing has its richest fulfillment within the relational Bonds-of-Love.

The verb aspect of self—human being—transcends the boundaries of an individual body and is expressed in the space-between-two-bodies. Be-ing happens at the heart of each and every relationship. Without others to "be-with," human be-ing cannot . . . "be." Leonardo De Cresenzo conveyed this inseparable synergy with these words:

* * * * *
"We are each of us
angels with one wing,
and can only fly embracing
each other"
* * * * *

We literally require each other in order to "be," and because of this bond, we face one another in an inherent stance of moral obligation. Mother Teresa taught: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." How we are "being-with" others—our way of being—is the most important facet of self and the most essential expression of existence.

(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, pages 83-89)

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