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Introduction to Empowered Humanity Theory
A Framework for an Empowering and Dignified Life
INTRODUCTION TO EMPOWERED HUMANITY THEORY
A Framework for an Empowering and Dignified Life
Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Jason Littlefield’s forthcoming book titled Empowered Humanity Theory: A Framework for an Empowering and Dignified Life available November 2023.
Beneath the complexities and specificities of our biologies and personalities a profound truth resonates: all humans share an astonishing 99.9% of the same DNA. This shared genetic heritage binds us as members of the same human family. This awareness is fundamental to Empowered Humanity Theory (EHT). Building an empowered and dignified life begins with the understanding that all people are equipped with the capacities and propensities not just to harm each other but to coexist in meaningful ways. When applied to daily routines and personal habits, EHT cultivates the latter.
Picture the human story as a grand tapestry meticulously woven with two essential sets of threads each embodying fundamental capacities and inclinations inherent in our human nature—encoded intricately in our DNA. One set of threads plays a pivotal role in preserving the tapestry against the storms, trials and tribulations of our journey ensuring future generations can safeguard it and continue our shared narrative. The other thread set is designed to infuse comfort and beauty elevating our journey beyond mere survival. It's within the careful interlacing of these threads that we unveil the story of our past. By examining the threads of contemporary weavers we gain insight into our future.
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Much like human emotions, responses and motivations vary so do the threads of our grand tapestry. The thread set designed to ensure durability is a sturdy, thick strand that can be woven with ease. If weavers rely exclusively on this set the tapestry loses its beauty aesthetics and comfort to the touch. The thread set designed for comfort and beauty consists of finer threads demanding more time and deliberate effort for weaving. Over-reliance on this thread set renders the tapestry susceptible to holes and tearing. A skilled weaver not only selects the threads they use but also maintains a delicate balance between the two thread sets.
Both sets of threads are indispensable for human survival and the continuity of the narrative within the grand tapestry. They function like the yin and yang. Two polar opposites rather than a harmonious duo working in tandem. The sturdy, thick and easily woven threads represent the basic instincts of judgment, categorical thinking and in-group preference bias. Those threads also represent the capacities for prejudice, aggression and cruelty. This thread set equips us with the ability to make swift, life-saving decisions. Yet when employed in non-life-threatening situations these capacities can result in harm, limit our potential and damage relationships.
In contrast, the finer, brighter and more challenging-to-weave threads symbolize awareness, understanding and compassion. These capacities not only contribute to our survival but also enrich and enhance our human experience. These capacities surpass the benefits of prioritizing judgment, prejudice, aggression and cruelty. Together these contrasting threads create a delicate balance in our human tapestry. They provide us with both the swift responses needed for survival and the depth that makes our existence more meaningful and fulfilling.
Imagine that each quilted square represents an individual who has ever existed or is now living. Every addition to our human family is endowed with an empty square and an inexhaustible supply of both thread sets to tell their story. This contributes to the rich narrative of our shared humanity. With awareness and intentional practice we can prioritize the use of the finer threads while reserving the sturdier ones for mending immediate frays and tears. In doing so our efforts are directed toward enhancing our personal experience and fortifying the interconnectedness between us.
Empowered Humanity Theory serves as a guiding framework leading each weaver to construct an empowering and dignified life while reinforcing our grand tapestry. Applying the principles of EHT in our daily routines and lifelong habits will steer us toward ensuring our collective narrative continues to evolve harmoniously.
At its core EHT offers the proposition that humanity possesses an inherent capacity to shape a more harmonious world for present and future generations. The theory is built upon a foundation of developing and strengthening three specific attitudes by embedding 3 Pathways of Practice into daily routines and personal habits.
The Attitudes of Empowered Humanity Theory
Developing an identity rooted in self-selected values allows for growth over a lifetime. Filtering life through chosen values aligns one's thinking, feeling and behavior with their true self.
Cultivating a perspective that places human dignity at the forefront of intrapersonal and relational interactions. This decreases the innate capacity for prejudice, the propensity for categorical and dehumanizing thinking and strengthens trusting relationships.
Prioritizing Mindsets of Inquiry and Compassion:
Prioritizing attitudes of inquiry and compassion over those of fear and judgment. This allows for improved problem-solving and the easing of suffering.
The 3 Pathways of Practice Of Empowered Humanity Theory
Practices that Build Awareness and Equanimity:
These practices promote insight into ourselves, each other and the world around us. Mindfulness in particular is a practice that builds awareness and equanimity enabling us to find calm during moments of chaos.
Practices that Build Kindness and Compassion for Self and Others:
These practices encompass encouraging and positive gestures, words and acts of service extended without intentions or expectations. They also involve acknowledging and actively seeking to alleviate suffering whether it's one's own or another's.
Practices that Celebrate our Common Humanity:
These practices highlight the similarities between people. Sharing stories and identifying elements of oneself within others are examples of practices that celebrate our common humanity.
Empowered Humanity Theory is grounded in the principles of neuroscience, human psychology and evolutionary biology. It wholeheartedly embraces the concept of neuroplasticity. Empowered Humanity Theory acknowledges that our brain's architecture adapts to what we consistently practice. By deliberately adopting attitudes and practices that elevate well-being and interconnectedness we interweave the fine threads of care, beauty and compassion. Over time the intertwining of these fine threads will create a bond even stronger than the thread set purposed for durability.
In the following chapters the rich tapestry of EHT will be carefully unwound. Each thread will be meticulously examined and woven into a narrative that guides readers toward a deeper understanding of the theory's essence. As we embark on this journey together the subtleties of EHT's attitudes and practices will be unveiled. EHT offers a roadmap not only for personal growth but also for the advancement of humankind toward an empowered and dignified future.
Jason Littlefield brings two decades of experience as an educator to his role as Executive Director of EmpowerED Pathways and as designer of Empowered Humanity Theory, a humanity-centered framework for life, leadership and learning. His book Empowered Humanity Theory: A Framework for an Empowering and Dignified Life will be available on Amazon in November 2023. Jason is a founding member of Free Black Thought. He tweets here.