Neural-Cultivating – Personal Freedom vs. Social Responsibility
In our series on Bio-Cultivating, we study ways to improve Healthspan. Neural-Cultivating is part of the science of brain neuroplasticity. The brain learns. By design, it is changed by experiences. In essence, what we pay attention to, is the primary shaper of our brain.
“Bullies see themselves as brave and heroic. Those with even a small sense of courage see bullies for who they are: frightened, insecure, lonely and in need of compassion and kindness.”
-Fred A. Robinson, Founder Body Helix – Veteran Owned USA company
Recently, in response to a Facebook post sponsoring the Ultra-Light 2 face mask, Body Helix received senseless criticism. We believe our product offerings fill customer needs for safety, comfort, and quality – whether it’s our face masks or our compression gear. The blatant condemnation of our mask seemed unreasonably malevolent. The pejorative comments were, unfortunately, similar to remarks circulated from the likes of those who believe the COVID-19 pandemic is a hoax, and worse, those who believe actions taken for the safety of all citizens are fair game for hate speech.
Of course, in the USA, everyone is entitled to form and voice their own opinions. That is an essential personal freedom every American enjoys. However, the vitriol to which our products and our company were subjected cannot be considered just someone’s opinion. This kind of irresponsible bombast is detrimental to the very fabric of our society.
But first, let me help clarify the difference between Personal Freedom and Social Responsibility. I think this intrinsic debate is causing a great deal of stress in our country today.
Personal Freedom vs. Social Responsibility
Personal Freedom is something I get – a withdrawal of our ‘cultural currency.’ Social Responsibility is something I give – an investment into ‘cultural currency.’ Personal Freedom is something I take out of the societal savings account, and Social Responsibility is that which I put into the societal savings account.
The essential elements of freedom must command our attention, awareness, discipline, and compassion. As a thriving society, we must be willing to sacrifice in small ways so that the whole of our society benefits. In other words, the essence of freedom exemplifies Social Responsibility. I believe this quote from John F. Kennedy sums this up nicely.
“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”
-John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the United States
I understand the source of criticism levied at us. The remarks were spat out with little to no thought given to the impact of those words on American citizens working within our company and those business partners supporting us. Our small Body Helix team is made up of single moms, parents supporting families, boot-strap entrepreneurs, hard-working and conscientious people, men and women who believe in our company and have kept us going through challenging times.
Our business partners provide talented staff to help us market and promote our products. All of these devoted individuals give of themselves to maintain the viability of our company. Each person is essential, and yet all are diverse: varied skills, contrasting political views, various religious beliefs, and an assortment of ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders.
The Body Helix team and its business partners make up a complex industrial microcosm. Our company consists of dissimilar people working together to bring good products to the customers who need them. Like many Americans, Body Helix has lived through a brutal year, and we’ve had to face very stressful situations head-on. Body Helix will continue to move through this pandemic.
“To be different is not necessarily to be ugly; to have a different idea is not necessarily to be wrong. The worst possible thing is for all of us to begin to look and talk and act and think alike.”
-Gene Roddenberry, creator of Star Trek
The act of bullying or shaming those who may think differently demonstrates the trampling of another’s personal freedoms. Intimidation has become commonplace among these bullies. When threatened with anything that differs from their narrow mentality, these people find it totally acceptable to be vulgar and aggressive toward blameless American companies. The type of language directed toward our company is not unlike looting and vandalism of innocent businesses.
These kinds of unwarranted disrespectful and ugly behaviors are not acceptable. As Americans, we all expect better. We do our best and strive to become more. I will be the first to raise my hand to admit I work at self-improvement every day. I am indebted to the people who inspire me to become more open-minded by allowing me to experience their diversity and wisdom. I am learning ways to live free of two negative self- and culture-destroying characteristics: Fear and Greed.
I am not so naive to think that my words would sway the people who make slanderous remarks against our company. I doubt they would reconsider their actions. For bullies and tormentors, this is who they are and how they innately behave. They live in a world of tunnel-visioned personal freedoms — a one-way path of fear and greed. To be clear, I am not suggesting that embracing one’s Personal Freedom is a bad thing. Not at all. However, when Personal Freedom continues to overdraw on the social responsibility account, it bankrupts the very culture in which we thrive. When Personal Freedom is balanced with a clear acknowledgment of the fundamental and obligatory requirement of Social Responsibility, it can be a thing of beauty.
I was 18 years old when I enlisted in the US Army. I saw this as a high honor. Additionally, the military benefits led the way for this low-income kid to envision a better future for himself – and his country. When I joined the Army, our country was at war. Our government had implemented the draft, which meant that Americans were compelled into military service – even those who didn’t want to do so. Serving in the military means that one forgoes most all Personal Freedoms while he or she makes solemn Social Responsibility investments into our cultural account.
I believe there are two key drivers of most of our global conflicts: Fear and Greed. It is puzzling to me when considering the speed with which humans have advanced their species, that we are not yet living on a peaceful planet. I was one of the youngest weapons instructors at West Point Military Academy. Maybe wise beyond my years, I intuitively understood the ‘why’ behind wars and conflicts. And, I saw what it takes to fuel them. In spite of all my expert training for conflict, I yearned for the day when humanity would render war obsolete. Now, 49 years later, I still yearn desperately for peace. I know humanity has the capacity to cross this chasm.
“The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.”
My desire would be for the United States of America to lead this evolution to peaceful humanity. United States’ governmental leaders hold power to set examples. To be a leader, you must have followers. With all the stress of the pandemic and cultural unrest, it’s no wonder so many followers are confused. I suppose misled and misinformed citizens may not understand foundationally who, what, and why they are adopting divisiveness.
In America, the Land of the Free, numerous political, educational, and corporate leaders appear frightened of leading. Or, they believe ‘leading’ implies the circumvention of accountability and responsibility. There are those, in some of the most influential roles today, who seem to evade long-term beneficial strategies and support short-term gains. Instant gratification now outpaces thoughtful planning. In any walk of life, insouciant or heedless leaders neglect the long-term needs of the group.
By definition, this kind of leader is not only ineffective, but detrimental to the greater good of the group. Effective leaders have a long-term vision that encompasses thoughtful planning and the dogged determination to stay the course, especially in the face of adversity. Authentic leadership is creating solutions that advance Personal Freedoms of those they lead through engaging in enduring socially responsible endeavors.
My first-hand experience of relinquishing my freedoms reinforces my supposition a relatively small percentage of our population bears the high cost of freedom. Here’s a thought: What if our country implemented a policy whereby those wishing to embark on a life-long political career are required to serve in the military without rank and privilege? I wonder if Congress would think and act differently with this foundational prerequisite. I ponder how the decision to enter global conflicts would be affected if our political leaders experienced first-hand the price of freedom. Military duty is a lens through which humanity could see a way to evolve.
Today, too many political “leaders” are simply not leading, not envisioning a future. If governmental and corporate America were comprised of more skilled servant leaders, imagine the plethora of long-term benefits for all citizens.
Level up. Learn it. Own it.
For leaders as well as individuals, it’s a matter of leveling up! If we take complete ownership, we can build a working functioning government that can be a beacon to which the entire world aspires. We are situated in the best time and place to demonstrate what freedom and responsibility can accomplish.
We are genetically wired to be seekers of knowledge, to be explorers with open minds always learning. Children are our most significant reminders of the beautiful human quality of non-judgmental discovery. Adults acting in response to Fear or Greed avoid or censure ideas of people that differ. Fear and Greed squelch our open-mindedness. As Fear and Greed tighten their grip on an individual or a society, closed minds seek new ‘truths’ to ensure their relevance. Inflexible thoughts and actions originate and perpetuate the instinct to punish diversity.
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”
The human mind is capable of untold achievements. Think of those who have created incredible wealth and funded incredibly philanthropic enterprises – devoting their good fortune to advancing the struggling human race (i.e., The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation). Most of us may not reach the financial level like that of the Gates, but we can focus our life force to act in a socially responsible way.
It’s easy to stay comfy in our small world, but because something may be challenging doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Small efforts still reap the rewards. I salute and thank the Gates for shining a light and paying it forward – in a big way. And, I salute all Americans who have stayed the course of Social Responsibility during this tragic pandemic!
I think most Americans believe in working together toward solutions to challenges facing our country. I am sure all parents want a better future for their children. It’s human to want to leave behind a great legacy. Let’s decide to leave future generations a beautiful, peaceful, and thriving world. Collaboration, patience, kindness, and open-mindedness are substantial investments in Social Responsibility.
As a country, we must achieve equilibrium and steadiness. The checks and balances created by our forefathers in the formation of our government still hold true. The growing infection of divisiveness widens the chasm in our country – making it harder to come together. Balanced cooperation is essential to Social Responsibility. Think of it like riding a bicycle. The rider must continuously make small adjustments from a center point. Leaning too far one way or the other will affect balance and could lead to a fall. Only with good balance can the forward motion continue. And, eventually, the rider easily compensates for any unbalance, and stability becomes instinctive.
Part of becoming balanced is seeking wisdom. Two aspects of wisdom – perspective and discernment – are not innate. And, wisdom has little to do with formal education or training. Wisdom is being aware of others: of their struggles, accomplishments, differences, similarities. In addition to awareness, wisdom requires a life-long goal of trying new things and reflecting on those things. We gain wisdom – and courage – when we explore things we do not understand. Be fascinated.
“We will find it impossible to fear diversity and to enter the future at the same time.”
-Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek
Reflection and Appreciation
As I watch Body Helix continue to mature as a company, I can’t help but reflect on the wrenching struggles and the gratifying accomplishments that have shaped our mission to help keep people active. I am reminded of the ongoing improvements and collaborations our team and our customers have experienced together. Many of you appreciate Body Helix products. Your positive referrals are helping us grow. The heartfelt appreciation of our team goes to those of you who support us. You are the reason we are here – and the reason we will stay the course.
I also want to shout out to the Body Helix team. Your efforts are herculean. Your work ethic, your devotion, and your belief in our company continue to amaze me. Our company may not (yet) be a billion-dollar enterprise, but our team members have billion-dollar hearts! Thank you for all you do every day. You are Body Helix. Naysayers beware!
Readers, thank you for allowing my ruminations. Please continue your kindness and respectfulness toward others. I believe one day that messages like this will dominate our mainstream media, and with your help, they will do just that!
Fred A Robinson
Body Helix, LLC