As a nation, the US demonstrates the low side of style 3 in one day-glo place: competition.
Competition instead of cooperation is fine fair fun in sports and I enjoy them.
But in our school system, competition is destructive. The Finnish example ( http://truth-out.org/news/item/10801-the-finnish-alternative-reclaiming-public-education-from-corporate-reform) is a public example. They substitute cooperation for competition and outperform almost everyone.
In personal relationships, competition is toxic. Winning an argument is emotionally very expensive. Not because you were right or wrong, but because you substituted winning for intimacy. The format of arguing about who is right and wrong is the booby prize – you do stay connected instead of separate, but you are not intimate.
The cultural pattern of competition as a desideratum in America makes competing seem bracing. But it destroys creativity: instead of proving the other person wrong, solve the problem!
The primary function of our ego is to cope with life. It is a set of convictions, assumptions and strategies that enable us to function. It is a small stupid step to assume that our set of perceptions and strategies are comprehensive. That’s why the Enneagram style can accurately (but not comprehensively) called a trance.
One of the things our small ego world does is assign values to events and things only as they relate to us.
Here is a cosmic example taken from the news. A few days ago Paul Ryan was chosen for Romney’s vice presidential running mate. The assorted media have talked about it endlessly. About the same time, a real world event happened that is monumental but the collective ego-world of the media largely ignored it. An iceberg twice the size of Manhattan (or 75 square miles ) broke off the ice cap. And simultaneously, Greenland’s ice covering (which covers 40% of Greenland) thawed completely for the first time in recorded history.
These two events were of monumental importance in the real world: of small importance in the media world devoted mostly to entertainment.
When we are in the grip of our Enneagram style, we are in danger of missing a lot of reality. And what we miss is what hurts us. In the media world we have the illustration of what we miss when we focus on what entertains us. And we will be hurt.
It’s no wonder the Buddha suggested being awake as the center of what he was about. It’s no easy task for a person or collective entity.
One of the problems determining an Enneagram style is that people choose one or two words/traits/summaries and think that if you can attach those words you have the styles.
Reducing a complex, multivariant, integrated, symbolic matter to one or two words is extremely harmful. If you look at an individual or our political scene, you can see that fundamentalism, whether Muslim or Christian, is dangerous and destructive. Fundamentalism is literal thinking (it has other characteristics, too, but literal is a good marker). Literal thinking is flat, non-negotiable, usually quite rigid and — this is important — it neglects the body and the community. Words are the refinement of gestures in an infant and in our evolution, and when we dissociate from our body, we rest heavily on certain words. These words stand alone, have no experiential component. You can be “saved” and have no bodily component. You can say “Allah is One” and it doesn’t have any experiential uniformity – that is, you can’t predict or describe anything physical that goes with it.
Al Qaida and Pat Robertson think alike – that is, they think in the same flat, literal, materialistic way.
An Enneagram style usually has some kind of polarized literal position holding the person in place. A Nine will say, “It’s not going to make any difference,” and get angry if that flat conviction is challenged. Each style “knows” certain things that are not true. The reason they “know” them is that they have a word or literal concept that they will not and cannot let go of.
Candace Pert is one of the pioneers in the field of – take a deep breath – psychoneuroimmunology. It’s the study of the relationship between our neural wiring and our feelings, our health, our thoughts and performance.
Here is one of her findings that explains why our Enneagram style is so durable and difficult to change. We have to interfere with established neural patterns.
There is a plethora of elegant neurophysiological data suggesting that the nervous system is not capable of taking in everything, but can only scan the outer world for material that it is prepared to find by virtue of its wiring hookups, its own internal patterns, and its past experience.
Molecules of Emotion, Candace Pert
Our Enneagram style is a narrow focus because we simply can’t focus on everything. We make selections out of habit. We originally select for survival, approval, pleasure and lesser vales. But select we do.