Is There A Common Future?

Here is the BIG QUESTION: What is the destination? 


Do not answer just yet. 

George Floyd’s gruesome death has led us to ask. Covid-19 has caused us to ask. 

Those marching in protest, those looting, those salivating for violence, have all come together to lead us down the road, once again, so we have a forum to discuss our common future. 

The hopeful say, “This time things will change.” 

The doubters say, “Not much will change.” 

And the in-be–tweeners say “Whatever!” 

However, here is a part of what we are missing. 


Most of the time we grab onto anything we think looks and sounds like change.  Anything that will calm down the tensions.  

The reason we want to solve so fast is to keep our anxiety levels under control. 

I will repeat.  

The reason we go to a solution so fast is to limit our stress and anxiety. 

Then we say, “Whew, that’s handled” we take a deep breath and get on to what is next. 

If that works, great. Then you can go on to solve a new problem. 

HOWEVER, if the same problem keeps repeating, that’s another story. 

Then you are dealing with a pattern. 

Patterns are harder to resolve.  

We ask, why is the same thing happening again and again? 

It’s because we need to get to the root of the issue and mostly, we don’t take the time to go there.   

Sadly, we miss golden opportunities for real, lasting, and positive change. 

Look, I can’t/won’t apologize for your discomfort. 

Stay uncomfortable. 

Just wait to hear me out before you run to solve the stormy issues of diversity and economic disadvantages that are plaguing us once again. (Have they ever really gone away?) 

I will address these two issues in a minute. 

Please read on and I promise to keep it brief. 

THE UNDERLYING ISSUE: Living and working in an addicted society 


Before you shrug and think you’ve heard it all before, you haven’t. 

This is not about the common addictions everyone knows. 

I’m not talking about the need to reach out for alcohol, cocaine, pharmaceutical drugs, comfort food, cars, boats, houses, clothes, sex, pornography, guns, violence, celebrity status. 

Those are still only symptoms of the real addictions. 

I’m talking about our cultural addiction to power. 

That’s it. 

That’s at the core of so much of the crap going on today. 


We grow up and work, that’s just what we do. 

 Sadly, many find this annoying way to pay our bills filled with too much stress, joyless, and lacking in meaning.  

Of course, there are the lucky few, maybe you are one of them, who loves your work. 

Keep reading anyway. 

You see, the work world reinforces the deeper addictions that keep us all stuck, so we keep running incessantly on a very outdated treadmill. 

List of modern workplace addictions: 

  1. Confused or indirect communications 
  2. Emails and texts to avoid face to face confrontations 
  3. Gossip 
  4. A cover-up of underlying problems 
  5. Avoidance of talking about real feelings 
  6. Taking NO as an insult demanding revenge 
  7. Success at any cost, mostly to family 
  8. Creating divisive teams forcing us to choose sides  
  9. Complicit agreement to look the other way 
  10. An excessive need to defend, explain, justify, or blame others 
  11. Limited ability to listen or ask open-ended questions 
  12. Worship of bottom line 
  13. Ignore or deny the pain of others in society 
  14. Co-dependency to keep from changing 
  15. Striving to be the best (which is an impossible place to stay) 
  16. Avoid or deny an impact on the environment 

 That’s enough. 

You can add it to the list. 

Do you see how work stress and dis-ease leads to the rest of the more common addictions? 

What, I know you’re saying as you get annoyed, that this is not answering your questions about discrimination and economic inequality.  

Yes, it is. 

Read over the list again.  

What does the list above have in common? 

I’ll give you a pass on this one. 

Here’s the answer. 

Faulty relationship patterns. 

They start in the family and show up in the workplace. 


Faulty relationships keep us in psychological prisons. This includes our internal relationship with ourselves. 

They breed the desire for addictive substances.  

The relationships I’m talking about here suck the lifeblood from us.  

I’m talking about power: domination of rich over poor, powerful over weak, men over women, light skin over dark skin. 

We protest, we march, we chant. 


We want to be free.  

My contention is, that we can only loosen the chains by looking at how we communicate in relationships and choose to transform to a more effective way. 


It’s time to “put our money where our mouth is” and create a learning society. 

This is not a revolution carried out by armies, not a knowledge revolution left in the hands of experts. 

It is a call to put corporate, community, and school resources into teaching effective communication, conflict resolution, diversity, and business skills.  

Then continue to teach these skills in the workplace. 

This change is not a quick fix and it’s not sexy.  

I suggest this start with family sessions in all communities offering models of partnership over power. 

This is a preventive addiction model and a pattern disrupter to move from power to partnership. 

I have done this in cities and rural areas that I thought would laugh me out of town. 

I saw that people will show up if they are getting something for themselves. 

They showed up. 

That is the essence of my book UNIQUE: How Story Sparks Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement. 

This is not to force people to behave in a certain way. It’s to give them the choice to change outdated ways of talking and being together. 

Our common future will still have conflict, disagreements, and disappointments.  

The difference is we can learn together to honor each other, listen, and respond with dignity and appreciation for each other. 

Posted in , ,

Sylvia Lafair