Would you die for your company? Would you die for your workmates?
What would it be like to know that you could and would and that so would your peers?
"That's silly", you reply. "No one would want that?" Really. Here are two articles that I wrote about the kind of relationship that I am finding amongst new workmates as we find each other on the Road of the Great Work. This new and deeply loving relationship is nurturing me and them. I wonder if it can release in us the courage and the power to make a difference.
1.0 The transformation from Team to Mates and then to Fellowship - Snip:-
What did we mean by the term "Mate"? Diana and I are "Mates" not just siblings. She knows all my failings and still loves me. She loves me because of some of my failings. So I am completely myself when I am with her. We do not have a goal or a plan. Our final knowledge is that one day one of us will be alone again but we will have still the other within us. This is the reason why living with dogs can teach us so much about being Mates. Their inevitable loss prepares us to lose all and everyone else who is close and to help us know that in our hearts we are still together.
The gaol of Mates is Mateship! The result of Mateship is connection with another and to yourself.
How does Mateship happen? In the recent past, Mateship was I think a product of a crucible. War is such a crucible. In war, men are often put into situations where they willingly would die for another. Many veterans never wish for another war but their eyes glisten as they recall how it felt to be so connected with their mates. Before modern medicine every mother offered her life in exchange for the new life. In this context, every mother could look another mother in the eye and share a moment of common accomplishment and of destiny.
Is war, or sharing the risk of death, the key for Mateship? Yes I think that it is but also I think that it is not essential. I suspect that it is also the product of a Trusted Space.
A Trusted Space is a "Place" where it is safe for people to take off their masks and so show their full selves. When we sat every evening for hundreds of thousands of years in a circle around the fire and told our stories - we were in a trusted space. When we lived our lives in public, there could be no masks. In a world that was based on reputation, your name was your most important asset. We showed our full selves to another and we were accepted for being whom we were.
Do we have to return to tribal life to find mateship? No more than the people of the Renaissance had to put on togas. We only have to understand the circumstances of the camp fire and of tribal life and find modern equivalents.
2.0 Here is how it feels in war - In the past it seemed that only war could offer men this feeling but now I think that Trusted Space and committing to the Great Work unlocks it. The Great Work will be hard. When you take on the system as Luther or Galileo did, you need support for your life and reputation will be put to the test. It is like war. You can really die doing this work. Here is how William Manchester described his feelings at Iwo Jima
"And then, in one of those great thundering jolts in which a man's real motives are revealed to him in an electrifying vision, I understood at last, why I had jumped hospital 35 years ago and, in violation of orders, returned to the front line and almost certain death.
It was an act of love.
Those men on the line were my family and my home. They were closer to me than I can say, closer than my friends had been or ever would be. They had never let me down and I couldn't do it to them. I had to be with them, rather than let them die and me live with the knowledge that I might have survived them.
Men, I now knew, do not fight for flag or country, the the Marine Corps or glory or any other abstraction. They fight for each other. Any man in combat who lacks comrades who will die for him, or whom he is willing to die for, is not a man at all. He is truly dammed."
I have found a joy in finding fellowship that makes my work relationships back when I was in the system seem pallid and false. This joy enriches me more than any pay check.