There are many ways to describe life circumstance. At one end of the spectrum is a welcoming oasis where most of the inhabitants are thriving and in the bloom of vitality and life satisfaction. At the other end of the spectrum is a malignant swamp.
These divergent circumstances can sometimes be found in communities, organizations, schools, the workplace and families. While the oasis is characterized by openness, transparency, frequent and comprehensive communication and safety, the swamp is replete with dangerous secrets, sudden unforeseen crises and unprovoked attack.
The oasis has achieved its good fortune through a shared, mutually beneficial purpose; shared hard work, cooperative efforts and an equitable sharing in the proceeds of the work. Conversely, the swamp spends most of its energy in maintaining the status quo.
The swamp is inhabited by many life forms; however, the alligator is the alpha predator in the swamp. The swamp is rich in toxic, self defeating competition, back biting, hostility and silence. The swamp relies heavily on silence to keep the other inhabitants at a state of hyper vigilance and insecurity.
The alligators withhold information so as to keep everyone in the dark; others in the swamp never really know where they stand or what tomorrow might bring which is exactly where the alligators want them to be.
Alligators know that if they can keep information below the surface where only a few other alligators know what is going on, they can totally control what happens in the swamp.
Alligators present with three responses to anyone else that they encounter in the swamp and these behaviors never change. Initially, they may run away from anyone they encounter, if possible. They often refuse to interact with anyone other than those from which they personally benefit or use to their selfish purposes.
Secondly, alligators can decide to attack the other immediately, especially if the alligator determines that their prospective prey can offer little defense or struggle. And once blood is in the water, other alligators may come in to take their bite.
The third alligator response is to mate with another or with another's idea. Alligators are especially good at mating with other people's ideas and then taking credit for them as their own. In doing so they make the ideas of others disappear and with the disappearance of the ideas of others comes the disappearance of the originators of the ideas.
Alligators rely on a well founded propaganda principal which is, if you tell a lie long enough it will become truth.
Given what we know about alligators, we understand their behavior. Explaining alligator behavior among humans is much more difficult to understand.
Children who find themselves in the swamp are in an especially disastrous situation as they don't have the option of leaving their circumstance.
Adults can leave a toxic job, marriage or family, most children cannot. Alligator behavior in humans is as common as the rain. The good news is that humans have the intellect to overcome selfish and cruel behavior.
If you find yourself in a swamp and you can get out, leave. Once you are out, remember what it was like to live in that unhappy selfish place. If you find yourself discrediting other people's ideas by isolating or ignoring them, if you find yourself trying to attack or kill others ideas or if you find yourself trying to mate with and to therefore steal the ideas of others remind yourself that these are all gator behaviors.
Take a deep breath and remind yourself, "Don't be a gator." Remember all kids count.
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