In my early days of school, I never was the biggest fan of the so-called long-division. I don’t even know if they still teach long-division with those gridded layouts built as you work your way down through the problem. A calculator gets you there much faster. Yet, either way, you end-up with less than you started with. I was a much bigger fan of multiplication.
I’m still not a fan of division, yet we sure see a lot of it. Not in a math class, but in this class of life. It must have an irresistible tug. Like gossip, it can initially feel good and paradoxically has its own way of multiplying.
And like long-division, the end result is less.
While there is likely a poetic angle to the cost of division, I’m certain a mathematical formula could prove a staggering sum representing the cost we pay for a conscious or unconscious addiction to division.
This cost of division can show-up in every arena of our life: politics, business, religion, education and intellectual discussions — along with relationships in most any context. While this cost of division can present itself in terms of wasted resources, it can also show up in far more destructive ways in the lack of progress, the suffering we cause others and the damage we invoke on our own state of being.
There are exceptions to most everything. For instance, division of cells are critical to life. Yet, even there, the run-away division of cells leads to cancer. Often, we search for such exceptions to justify rather than understand the divisions we create.
I have certainly been drawn into division along my own journey. Other times I have created it. I would guess we all have. But rarely, if ever, do we stop and count the cost of division.
If we did stop, we might divide less.
On this beautiful planet, it is mind-numbing to think of the senseless cost we have created by division. It’s hard to deny the cost on the macro scale of war, race, religion and gender. Seeing the cost alone, likely isn’t enough to deter further division. Painful loss in plain view hasn’t seemed to stop us in the past. And it continues in the present. Perhaps understanding the cause would be more insightful and more productive. Yet, it’s much tougher to understand the cause of division on the macro scale. It’s complex and likely the systemic outflow of many unrelated inputs.
Understanding our individual draw to division is difficult enough. I’m sure this seduction is a complex psychological dynamic that few of us are capable of fully understanding. At the same time, two aspects may give us plenty to consider – fear and ego. How much division is created by a lack of understanding? Often, what we don’t understand, we tend to fear at some level. And our ego wants to rationalize, categorize and control what we don’t understand.
The seeds of division always germinate at the individual level, subsequently multiplying one individual at a time – eventually at an exponential rate. Division can only end in the same way it begins – individually. Ironically, when we individually respond, we ignite the possibility of collective multiplication.
Recently, one specific definition of “division” caught my attention – separating a whole into parts. As I furthered my work on integrity, the most comprehensive definition of integrity I could find was held together in one word: whole. This might lead one to believe that division is the enemy of integrity. Yet, by definition, integrity has no enemy.
Integrity is a pathway to restore what is divided.
Individually, integrity depends on a connection to our core. Not our opinions and beliefs that fuel division, but rather our core that makes us individually and collectively whole. Core values don’t divide. That alone may be the most universally defining characteristic of a core value (see the April 2017 issue of The Front Porch). Behaviors, wants, needs, opinions and beliefs — especially those not grounded in an understanding of our own core values – have a high potential of creating division.
Recently, I saw an insightful meme posted on social media. Above the picture of the most beautiful innocent newborn, it simply said: This is a baby. He doesn’t judge. He doesn’t hate anyone. He is not a racist or prejudice. Please don’t teach him to be. It was a refreshing insight on a medium that can so easily do just the opposite.
Division has its place in a math class. Yet, beyond the math, maybe the greatest lesson we should have taken away is this: it always results in less than the whole. That, in itself, lacks integrity.
What division do you currently struggle with? What might be a good first step in crossing over the divide?
As always, I’d love for you to share your thoughts below!