Memorial Day

Memorial Day was begun by mothers of slain soldier-sons. It was a protest against war. But the war symbols are so powerful and prevalent in the US that it has degenerated into war worship under the guise of honoring veterans.
Symbols like music, uniforms, weapons and other instruments of testosterone create a narrative out of which a nation lives. The symbols of war are enormously powerful. Our Enneagram style is held in place by (usually) private symbols that enrich our narrative. To deepen our knowledge of the story we act out of, we might catalog some of the symbols we hold dearest and hold us clearest. This is an emotional exploration every bit as much as a syllogistic task. If you had your flag in your yard, what would it convey? And do you have t -shirts that double as flags?

Don’t look back

Many people try to explain their enneagram style by thinking about their early childhood. In some cases this may be helpful in shaping “how” we are our number: totally entranced or just a bit too enthusiastic about some things and averse to others.
But a philosophical problem can often underlie this: the belief that we can explain a current situation by its origin. I love the story of the mother who called her wayward daughter on her wedding day and told her “Yes, I am to blame for all your problems, but guess what –you’re in charge and the only one who can do anything about them.”
She pointed to the inherent alligator in blaming or even explaining the past: it takes away our power. The past proves quite intractable, whereas the present is potent. Science uses historical research to explain how things got this way, but that is fraught with danger, too. ¬†Science tends to explain our inner life by neurons or hormones. ¬†Your personality is not “because” of your bad digestion or genetic allergy to cats. It’s more complex than that.
I don’t like Dr. Phil, but I do borrow his theatrical phrase, “How’s that working for you?” Instead of looking back to explain what our life doesn’t work quite right, we need to look at the present and see what is working. Then we can move into the present and make some crucial decisions. Decisions are how we create futures.