Thoughts on BONDINGBonding is what we have sorely missed in our raising, that loss embedded in the distancing of father and son, and son again down through the generations. Instead, most of us were raised and lived our lives inside the world of separation, as in — “Let’s hear it for The American Dream. Let’s hear it for the patriarchy, separating man from woman and smiling man from smiling man, fearful but smiling ever.”Bonding … so important that it deserves a capital B. Bonding – that closeness, that trust, that allows us to call each other brother … and live it.Yet, can it be a goal, searched for directly? And, by powerful intention, have as a result?Or is Bonding a paradox?Bonding is our natural state. Upon birth, we bond with mother first and, in the absence of barriers, bond with daddy, relatives and playmates. But barriers are never absent, not in this culture of separation, competition and perceived shortages. We were young and the barriers were effective. Most of us grew up non-bonded with our peers, careful, watchful, competitive … and untrustingAnd, in this culture, perhaps Bonding is a Result, not a thing in itself. Might it be what occurs naturally… the result … when men speak their truths, trusting each other? We know Bonding results from our inner work at our Elders Lodge. It results from our sharing our deepest inner experiences. That sharing re-habilitates our natural inherent bonding.Yet there is something else that results in bonding. Ask any Marine. The outer shared experience of basic training, the comradery of battle. The set of shared inner experiences that begin by facing a threatening outer experience.Each of these common shared experiences, whether of the outer kind or only of the inner sort, requires a willingness to see things as they truly are and not as we wish or hope they were. And each requires a sharing of our deepest views and emotions with another.We have, in our Elders Lodge, been working on ourselves powerfully and vulnerably, speaking our inner truths to each other.We three leaders believe it is time for us to take the strength, trust and confidence we have gained doing that inner work and set it within a larger arena.We live in the world of others. We live in the world of outer circumstances. We live in a world that is profoundly threatened. We face a threat…and we believe that deeply inquiring into the situation as it is and sharing our views, attitudes, assumptions and emotions about it… will result in a bonding in our individual psyches. And this will serve the world of others.We are Elders and Elders are in Service. We are not merely a group of adults who are in competitive service to our own egos and our shadow. We are in Service with a capital S. We believe it is appropriate to ask ourselves, as Wise Elders — What and whom do we serve?We believe that we must observe the signs that point to our world as it threatens to be. And soon might be.
The book, written by Dr. Harvey Austin, an Internationally known surgeon, has become an International Best Seller in five countries, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and the UK.
The purpose of his powerful book is to restore humanity’s natural Third Stage of Life ― Elder. . To be an Elder means to live life in full-bloom.
We have lost Elder, our best stage. The wisdom and compassion of our older and wiser members has been ignored as Elder itself has been sidelined and disempowered. Now we tell disparaging jokes about our old people, ignoring their value. This is called Ageism.
For 99.9% of human life-on-earth, we cherished Elders. They were our cherished stage of wisdom, compassion and honor. When we lived in tribes, our families had three generations, usually living in the same household. Then, our Elders had been taught by five generations; by grandparents, parents, peers, children and grandchildren. Now, with the loss of family as their training ground, adults arrive at the stage of possible Elderhood ― untrained and unready.
Now it requires work to develop the wisdom and compassion of Elderhood. Today, we must train ourselves
“Elders Rock!” presents a blueprint for both men and women to train themselves to become Elders, to become wise and compassionate and to become a great service to their family, to their community and to the world. The book points out the tragic danger of ageism.
Dr. Austin asks, “How much longer can our world exist when run by mere adults without Elder supervision?”
Elder is not an age of life, it is a stage of Life. You are never too old….or too young….to declare yourself to be an Elder.
Dr. Austin has pioneered surgical procedures and has authored medical articles and chapters in medical texts. A charismatic speaker, he has lectured to surgeons in Belgium, Brazil, Mexico and Sweden. He is the founder of The Austin-Weston Center for Cosmetic Surgery in Washington, D.C. He is a philosopher-surgeon who has spent adult life as a student of both personal and cultural transformation. His work has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey and Phil Donahue shows.
“My greatest intention is that our global worldview shifts from its present competitive You OR Me worldview to a co-operative worldview of You AND Me.” Says, Dr. Austin.
You may purchase the book by going to: Book.EldersRock.com.
You may reach him for speaking engagements at: HarveyWAustin@Yahoo.com.
Our Elders Rock! Group in Fort Lauderdale has two great notions: Our world needs the Wisdom of Elders. And we need Elders to teach Elders to teach Elders to teach … and so on. Three months ago two of us initiated such a Group at the Center for Spiritual Living in Fort Lauderdale.
There are no models, so we are making it up as we go along. We are excited to be pioneers in the restoration of Elder as our natural Third Stage of Life.
Here’s our thinking:
Our world has been run by mere adults without Elder Supervision for too long. Our world with its immature You OR Me worldview leaves many of us out. That worldview has led to our present world of sexism, of racism and ageism. As Einstein told us, “The world we have now is a function of the thinking we have done to date.” And that thinking, at its most basic, rests on an immature worldview, a You OR Me paradigm, with its underlying assumptions of separation and perceived shortages.
A world that includes the Wise Elder would have a different worldview ―a You AND Me worldview, a paradigm of inclusion, compassion and sufficiency. A world that works for everyone with no one and nothing left out.
I woke up one morning with a message. From that space between asleep and awake, the hypnagogic space, I awoke with this, “Bring back Elder. Write a book.”
“Sure. What’s an Elder?”
The first book I could find on Amazon with ‘Elder’ in the title was In the Arms of Elders by one William H. Thomas, M.D. I loved it. I was inspired. Encouraged, I wrote my book and sent an early draft to Bill. He liked my ideas but said “. . . it just isn’t a book yet.” It wasn’t. Now it is. Due for release, it is titled, Elders Rock! Don’t Just Get Older: Become an Elder.
But it takes more than one person, more than one book, to restore Elder as our natural Third Stage of life. Dr. Arleen Bump, Senior Pastor of the Center for Spiritual Living read it. “Dr. Thomas is right. And you also are right. Let’s form an Elder Group at the Center.”
Our growing Elder group of eighteen has met four times and each of us has declared, “I am an Elder!” Our ages range from 52 to 85. We have varied backgrounds but our commonality is what matters. Each of us has long known we were committed to making a difference. The group works with the wisdom attributes of Elder – Compassion, Listening and Acceptance. We are inspired by the Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
We have two events scheduled – a Reception and Book Signing for Elders Rock! On December 4.
The second event is our strong support of Dr. Bill’s Age of Disruption evening here in Fort Lauderdale on November 6. Go Bill! 507 words.
The Death of Elder
The role of Elder may be more important than either our famous opposable thumb or our sparkling neocortex in defining humanity as a species. Our blindness to that possibility may have destroyed our future.
Einstein said that the world we have now is a perfect correlate with the thinking humanity has done so far. The present state of the world, with its You OR Me paradigm, has been sourced by a pair of false assumptions ― that there are shortages and that we are not connected. These are the false assumptions of a worldwide culture run by Adult, a culture dominated by a cult of adulthood, as geriatrician and author William H. Thomas proposes.
Adult-think is based upon doing and asks, “Can we?” Elder-think, grounded in being, asks, “Should we?” Elder-think is wise, has a long view and is inclusive, based upon love and compassion for all. Elder has a view of a world that works for everyone with no one and nothing left out. It lives within a You AND Me paradigm.
The third stage of life, Elder, is the stage for which our first two stages, Youth and Adult, were intended to prepare us. Adult-think has become so prevalent, so cancerous, that we no longer have an Elder stage. Our precious and species-unique Elder stage has been lost, co-opted by Adult.
Without the instant restoration of our natural Elder stage, with its inherent wisdom, we may have no stages at all: we will no longer exist as a species. The Adult’s destruction of our very nest will be looked back upon by some rare and wise cave-dweller with terrible sadness.
Consider a tree in spring. The new leaves are the green of Youth. The trunk and branches are the Adult. The stabilizing and nourishing roots are the Elder. Humanity is a tree without roots. It will topple in the next high wind.
That storm is rapidly upon us, boiling on the near horizon, visible to all who will look. The loss of Elder as our cherished stage of wisdom has placed our species in great peril. The price for our immaturity will be high indeed. We will be gone.
We must have Elder restored as our natural third stage of life – Wise, Compassionate and Cherished.
Reproduce at Will with Attribution.
Disappearing Elder: A Devolutionary Downstep
We have lost Elder, our third stage of life, in a single blink of the evolutionary eye.
This loss began with the discovery of fossil fuels only eight generations ago, a very short period when contrasted to the more than a thousand generations modern humans have existed. The loss of our Elder stage, that stage of human wisdom, has gone mostly unnoticed. When the loss shows up at all, it shows up as vague, slow and incremental.
Yet if we stand back and contrast the eons-long influence and privilege of Elder with the present disreputable state of our elders, we become present to the possibility that we live within an evolutionary detour, a human devolution. We can then notice that our uniquely human Three Stage Life that had long given us our evolutionary advantage has devolved into a mere Two Stage Life, only slightly distinguishable from any other species. For them, Youth and Adult is sufficient. For humans it is not. Our unique species-advantage is that humans have a third stage of life.
Humans had long utilized the wisdom of that 20-40 year long Elder stage to live lightly and lovingly upon our planet, to pass on the various human cultures with an appreciation that actions impact ‘unto the seventh generation’ and to give children the benefit of two generations of child-raisers ― mothers and that uniquely human institution, grandparents.
Our critical Elder stage is rapidly disappearing worldwide. In some places, particularly the West, it is practically gone. Our old people continue to default into mere aging adults, or, in some cases, aging children, instead of assuming the wise mantle of Elder.
Further examination of this trend reveals that this evolutionary slide has not been straight like the slide of a playground. Rather the loss shows up as a series of mini-transformations, not upward as in ‘evolutionary leaps’, but downward in a series of devolutionary downsteps. Buckminster Fuller, world visionary and architect of the geodesic dome, described one of these downsteps, without distinguishing it as such, during a seven hour interview on stage with Werner Erhard in 1977.
As he explained,
“…early Mom and Dad were, for their children, the authority regarding their lives. Dad ranged wide during his search for food, staying aware of any possible dangers arriving from a distance. He brought home the meat. Mom consolidated these gains and developed the means to preserve the food, drying it, heating it with fire and the like … Both Mom and Dad were the repository of the knowledge that allowed continued existence. This knowledge was confined to them and they were the exclusive conduit by which it passed down to their children.
Fuller was born in 1895. When he was three, the electron was discovered. Then the first airplane when he was eight. When he was twelve, the SOS of Morse Code was invented. And when he was 23, the first human voice came over this new thing called a radio. When he was 27, the first radio station was licensed.
“One day, as Dad came home, his children ran out to greet him and they told him that the radio said that someone had flown across the Atlantic. What!? Dad exclaimed.”
Bucky said, “Dad never again brought home some news.”
This abrupt shift from Dad as news-bringer was one in the irregular series of devolutionary downsteps. This downstep instantly disempowered Elder as the source of ongoing tribal knowledge.
It might be tempting to conclude that this shift represents a disempowerment of the Adult Stage, Dad being an adult. Not so, because Adult is the source of the discoveries of electricity, airplanes and radio. Dad-as-Elder became disempowered at the same moment that Dad-as-Adult journeyed toward over-empowerment.
Of such small devolutionary downsteps, unappreciated at the time and only noticed in retrospect, does a devolutionary process consist. We might wonder what else we are not noticing. Is it possible that what we label as progress, the technological discoveries that clearly represent an advantageous shift, might similarly contain the seeds of devolutionary downsteps?
What other downsteps might we be missing as our cultural worldview shifts at this time of enormous change?
I have put the introduction of my soon-to-be-published book, now in its ninth draft ― in the form of a question.
What Makes Us Humans Unique?
Most would give the pair of answers we learned in school ― the opposable thumb that lets us make tools and our huge neocortex that enables us to think about thinking.
However we have been blind to something else of huge importance that has been right in front of our noses ― Elders.
All species of animals have two stages of life ―youth and adult. Homo sapiens is unique as the only species that has a third stage ― Elder. Elder exists as the result of a biologic fact that is so commonplace, so ordinary, that we don’t notice it as extraordinary.
In all species there is a bizarre event that occurs to the female when she can no long bear young. She dies.
Every species that is, except for the female human. Following the end of childbearing, woman not only does not die, she lives an additional half a lifetime. That extra half lifetime has given us humans two advantages ― the stage of Elder as the source of wisdom and it has given us the institution of grandparent. This means that we are the only species that has two generations to raise our young. No other species has this extraordinary evolutionary advantage: their young are raised by mothers only.
This is amazing.
Elder has held the wisdom of our species for the 200,000 years that modern humans have lived on earth. That wisdom has allowed human beings to expand and thrive in the most hostile reaches of our earth. In those places and for all that time, our population, living in close proximity to nature, remained less than a single billion.
We began to lose the stage of Elder about 200 years ago when our planet presented us with its one-time gift of fossil fuels that has resulted in the miracles of technology, transportation and communication.
Nothing is free however: there is always a price to be paid. We are beginning to pay that price now. With loss of our precious Elder stage, we live in a world that is run by Adult without Elder input and without Elder wisdom. Adult, short-sighted by nature, has placed humanity at the most dangerous fork in the road we have ever faced. We have allowed our population to spike over 7 billion and we have dangerously polluted our nest.
To save our planet and to save our species, we must bring Elder back as our source of wisdom.
This book is about three things:
- How to train yourself as Elder,
- How to train others to become Elder,
- Returning the Third Stage of life, Elder, to its rightful place.
My background intention is that these will contribute to an expanded worldwide worldview, out of which might come a future for humanity wherein all life is celebrated and no one is left out ― a future of You AND Me.