Smells Like Team Spirit

Every man is an island onto himself.

Phooey.

By the inch it’s a cinch. By the yard it’s hard.

There’s a lot of arena-filled, grandstand speechifying these days about unity, unifying, and bringing our nation together, and which man or woman is best qualified, best prepared to wrangle a fractured populace closer into a single file line in these crucial times of disappointment and dare say bitterness.

Not every one works well in a team. Some of the world’s greatest art and literature, and inventions come from the biggest loners ever to pick up a paint brush or pen or slide rule. Michaelangelo, Leonardo, Pollock, Ford, and Eli Whitney were said to need a lot of alone time. Lots. We also hear the same for that guy who invented the Chia Pet. Required lots of alone time.

But most of us are social animals — in one way or another, to varying degrees we need the energy of the pack to keep us moving forward. Deep inside, life amongst a pack give us assurance of evolution. For basic survival, our first pack instincts are obviously honed within our family. Here, our values about right and wrong are shaped, as well as our sense of our place in social hierarchies. For the remainder of our social lives, we fall into our pack of friends, cultural and ethnic identities, workmates, places of worship, cafes, fraternities and sororities, sports teams, civic associations, infantries, political parties, nations, corner bars, and now online social networks.

Whatever our pack, we are expected to conform to its majority values: that’s what makes a pack. Its declared values are what defines a pack’s purpose, its goals and objectives.

Our need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves is an ancient yearning. Scratching along with others to grab hold of that next inch of turf is an old, familiar yearning. Teamwork fulfills this yearning.

Balancing this primal urge to be a part of and fulfill the values of a group with your primal need to be an independent minded, free willed individual is the never-ending quest of civilized humankind. It’s the struggle mused by philosophers, scholars, politicians, coaches, and working single moms sorely in need of just one precious quiet waking hour a week to herself to be herself for self and sanity’s sake.

Knowing the difference between satisfying teamwork among the pack, and going along to get along is key to this balancing act between protecting your sovereignty and free will as an individual with the unyielding demands of a collective. Through true teamwork, everyone ultimately wins, even if the scoreboard says differently at the final buzzer.

Teamwork is about inclusion. Inclusion includes valuing diverse opinions, viewpoints, experiences and backgrounds as the sum total and merger of an reinforced, durable whole.

The aim of peer pressure is to force an exclusionary standard onto subjects not falling into line or accordance with the prescribed values of the pack for the sake of the pack. Free will can be life threatening to some packs.

On the other hand, without respect and value accorded to the supreme notion, pursuit, and realization of free will, some packs would never survive. Such is the highest ideal state of Union.

Stomp on that, mate.

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