Support, Protect, Respond?

by Christopher Lovejoy on February 28, 2021

Who stands to benefit from the success of a reconciliation between instinct, intellect, intuition? And who stands to benefit from a supportive, protective, responsive world in the wake of such a reconciliation?

The easy answer is simply this: “we all do.”

The hard answer is “only those most fit to survive, strive, and thrive.” Unless the instinct to cooperate is repressed by the intellect with a cynical attitude, the easy answer is obvious; the hard answer only makes sense if the cause and care of humanity is made to be less than what it is.

Support, protect, respond: these fundamental imperatives apply across many expanding spheres of concern, from two to more than two, from more than two to many, from many to everyone on the planet, and from everyone on the planet to everyone who has ever lived up to now.

With a sound reconciliation of instinct, intellect, and intuition on a global scale, human beings would also have it within themselves to support, protect, and respond to one another meaningfully ~ materially and spiritually, physically and emotionally, financially and reputationally.

Interestingly, though not incidentally, these same three basic imperatives ~ “support, protect, respond” ~ dovetail, respectively, with the three penultimate pairs of hedonia and eudaimonia, entheos and hērōs, euthymia and arêté, as these three pairs continue to mature, such that . . .

  1. a secure reconciliation of pleasure and purpose nurtures a supportive orientation,
  2. a steady reconciliation of inspiration and aspiration ensures a protective orientation; and
  3. a stable reconciliation of confidence and excellence fosters a responsive orientation

A secure foundation of pleasure and purpose allows for a steady flow of inspiration in view of aspiration, even as a steady flow of inspiration in view of aspiration allows for a stable platform by which to respond with confidence in view of excellence, as well as be responsive to same.

Intuitively, we already know and feel that seeking to gain a robust hedonia without adequate attention given to eudaimonia is at risk of ethical dissolution, even as seeking to gain a robust eudaimonia without adequate attention given to hedonia is at risk of emotional desiccation.

We also know and feel that a reasonable, sensible balance of pleasure and purpose paves the way for inspiration to flow in view of aspiration, whatever the aspiration happens to be; entheos (inspiration and enthusiasm flowing from “the god within”) goes hand-in-glove with hērōs.

The heroic impulse to do the right thing is typically depicted as an answer to a very specific call in view of a very specific course of events that takes the hero(ine) from reluctance to return, but what if we blew the heroic archetype wide open to include life itself, from birth to death?

Let me share a brief example of what I mean by this.

I’ll begin with a rather profound question: what happened to us as a species when the instinct to cooperate in harmony with nature, and with our nature, began to falter the moment we became conscious of a capacity to reason ~ and therefore to recall, to question, to resist, to refrain?

The quick answer?

We became objects of advocacy and inquiry, even as we became subjects of advocacy and inquiry.

In becoming objects and subjects of advocacy and inquiry, we became subject to disagreement, dissension, and discord, which did a serious number on our beautiful, harmonious bonobo-like instincts to live and love freely, and to cooperate without any thought of consequence.

Through disagreements, dissension, and discord, it was only a matter of time before abuse and neglect became inevitable, as we simply did not know what to do with the emergent fears and doubts, the thwarted expectations and suspicions, and the ensuing anger and mistrust.

Arguably, we still don’t what to do with it all on a scale any larger than, say, a family.

At the dawn of self-consciousness, a cascade failure ensued: frustration begat suspicion; suspicion begat dissension; dissension begat separation; separation begat division; division begat exclusion; exclusion begat isolation; isolation begat alienation; alienation begat exhaustion; and exhaustion begat resignation. For two million years, humanity has suffered what Shakespeare called “the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune,” to the point where we have become numb to our own condition.

And now, here we are, plagued, more or less, by a ceaseless parade of attempts to counter the effects of anger and mistrust, egocentricity and alienation. For whatever reason, we absolutely refuse to address and resolve the root cause; truly, we are a species in profound denial of our own cause and care.

So what is the root cause of this invisible plague? And which remedies are best?

Let’s start with what we can’t do.

We can’t go back to being bonobo-like; we can’t erase what has already happened, in terms of pain and suffering; we can’t erase the instinct to cooperate and collaborate; and we can’t erase the conscious mind ~ the intellect ~ no matter how much we dare drug and distract ourselves into a stupor.

What we can do is (a) lend more appreciation to our bonobo-like instincts; (b) come to terms with our pain and suffering; (c) affirm the instinct to cooperate and collaborate; and (d) treat the capacity to reason as a blessing, not a burden, and without the drugs and the distractions.

All without complicating our lives and livelihoods to the point of no return.


there is nothing so certain in our fears
that is not yet more certain than the fact that
most of what we dread comes to nothing

~ Seneca

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