The Late David R. Hawkins wrote “Power vs. Force – The Hidden Determinants of Human Behavior” in 1995 and it has been reprinted a number of times since then. In it, Hawkins helps us understand our progression toward Enlightenment through his “Map of Consciousness,” assigning values to emotions, feelings and behavior that either affirm or deny life.
At the end opposite from “Enlightenment” is “Shame;” we make our choices toward either characteristic at the dividing line of “Courage.”
Courage is what we call on when we witness injustice or mistreatment by one human being to another and are compelled to act. Courage reminds us that many of us – at one time or another – were objects of bullying, ridicule or diminishment. That feeling of smallness and isolation stays with us for a long time – a lifetime for some of us. The gift in those experiences – if we accept it – was the creation of empathy: identifying with the person we now witness being treated the same way.
That suffering – felt or perpetrated – is the shame Hawkins values at the lowest frequency of human behavior. Shame, he tells us, is “used as a tool of cruelty” and it is the weaponized favorite of bullies.
The slope to shame is slippery, and Hawkins helps us see the digression in what he calls the imperceptible “Power Patterns in Human Attitudes.” These patterns show up in our own behavior and those in power around us if we’re not watchful. They can begin with a snide comment, name calling, gossiping, labeling. We go from “opinion” to “verdict” and from “verdict” to punishment…the subtle and effective separation, segregating “us” from “them.”
Brené Brown tells us in “Braving the Wilderness” – “Challenging ourselves to live by higher standards requires constant diligence and awareness.”
“Higher” is Enlightenment; Courage gets us there. And with Courage, more we use it, the more we have.