I started watching the old series Battlestar Galactica. After creating a population of robotic workers, those same machines rose up and attacked their makers. A brutal war ensued, but eventually the robots left the planet, only to return in a surprise attack 40 years later. The last bastion of human kind is left to fight with an ancient starship that was about to become a historic museum. The mission now is to avoid danger and try to find a new home, jumping from place to place in the vast abyss of outer space. They are looking for Earth.
Talk about stress! The fate of human kind rests on the savvy war skills of a handful of warriors, balanced by the savvy social adeptness of a woman thrust into the position of President and unexpected leadership. The warrior commander and the new President must find a way to balance the survival needs of the few remaining humans while maintaining their humanity.
Isn’t this what happens every day in little ways in our own lives? While we may not be facing extinction, in a sense we are facing our daily mortality. Some of us face big stress every day, but all of us face little ones. We struggle to live in a moral and ethical way, balancing our individual survival needs with the needs of the many around us who also struggle for survival. Sometimes it is being like a squirrel trying to protect your nest. Or perhaps cutting in line at a four way stop sign. All this stress can get in the way of success, both yours and other peoples. And the more someone else struggles for success, the more they may compete with you, making your stress more as well.
But what if we changed the view, and came together like those folks in the make-shift fleet of Battlestar Galactic? Their survival struggle is still hard, but a little more bearable as they come together and share the stress and worry. In fact, what they illustrate, between the balance of warriors and citizens is the slow emergence of our thinking, rational mammalian brain beginning to lead our more ancient limbic lizard brain. We form groups, and alliances, and when we do so very often our deep and ancient survival scuffle becomes a wonderful and rewarding array of friendships, relationships, triumphs, and shared pleasures.
Together we build homes, plant and harvest fields, come up with ideas at the office, dig wells. When stress occurs in the form of natural disasters, group difference can melt away and humanity as one help each other in Haiti, Japan, or New Orleans. We know how each of us can help relieve the stress of another.
Some readers of the last blog spoke about the stress in their lives, familiar I am sure to all of us: money, jobs, relationships. They are very real and very scary. Yet the resolution of each intimately depends on both yourself and the interaction with others. Once we recognize that no stress is in a vacuum, we have an opportunity to help each other navigate what seems a hostile universe. In fact, when we all recognize we are in the same battlestar, and the enemy is stress itself, who knows what welcoming hospitable planet we can find in each other. My guess is there are some remarkable potentials out there, all within our brains.