Bill Cottringer

The most serious problem we have today is the growing divide/gap between this and that group of people and the ineffective gap-closing activities we waste valuable time engaging in. The gaps and divide just keeps getting wider and wider, creating more problematic differences between people than assuring commonalities. This process fits what Paul Tillich identified earlier as the two main drive and movement in life—back and forth between separating into uniqueness vs. rejoining into union. Or put another way, taking things apart and then putting them back together again.

The problem here is when we focus too much on one side of this equation at the expense of neglecting the other. In our country that seems to be the perennial battle between political parties who both have legitimate and valuable agendas to pursue, but when done too long in the extreme just stall real progress. In this sense balance is essential with the truth that there is a time for all seasons.

As the best framework in which to present this mega problem, I am proposing that there are really only three different categories of conflicts, which confront us in life, work and relationships and which create the gaps that desperately need closing: Different variations of these conflicts are what make up our personal life stories.

1. Us vs. life:

• The gap between our free will and will power vs. the destiny and determination life has waiting for us.
• The gap between what we know about being happy, successful and productive vs. all that is knowable as to how to best do this, usually readily available for the asking..
• The gap between how we increase success and decrease failure vs. the principles in life that condition our choices.
• The inherent neutrality we are born with vs. the good and bad behavior we are conditioned to engage in.
• The purpose in life we invest in and want to pursue vs. the purpose we were born to accomplish.
• Recognizing moments of danger vs. opportunity.
• Being aware of the point of no return before it comes vs. letting it get past us.
• Our safety and security vs. forces against these values.
• Resisting change vs. embracing it.
• Creating vs. destroying.

2. Us vs. them:
• The gap between those who have vs. those who don’t have (whether it be money, power, influence, fame, health, freedom, superiority, well-being, happiness, peace of mind, meaning, purpose or whatever else people pursue).
• The gap between what employers, teachers, parents, coaches, writers and leaders know and can do vs. what employees, students, children, players, readers, and followers know and can do.
• This groups’ ideologies, characteristics, values and traditions vs. that group’s take on these things.
• The trusting optimists vs. the untrusting pessimists.
• Those who work hard at creating gaps vs. those who work hard to close them.
• The people who act vs. the people who react.
• Likeable people and unlikeable people.
• Good guys who are convinced they are good vs. bad guys who don’t think so.
• The Republican’s agenda vs. the Democrat’s one.
• Honest and trustworthy people vs. dishonest and untrustworthy people.

3. Us vs. ourselves:
• Where we are vs. where we want to be.
• What we want vs. what we need.
• Our current self vs. our best self.
• Our efforts vs. the results we get.
• What our thinking tells us vs. what our heart is saying.
• The Karma we accept vs. the Karma we should try to change.
• Our moral conscience vs. our psychological one.
• Our foolish pride and ego vs. the value of humility and selflessness.
• Avoiding the pain of conflicts vs. approaching them for growth.
• Being positive vs. being negative.

I believe these three conflicts make up all variations of our life stories. The only thing I don’t know is…Is life proceeding in the right direction and at the right pace in closing these gaps, or do we all need to take more responsibility and make more effort to help ourselves and others close these gaps? What we know is that the truth usually resides between extremes, again emphasizing the importance of a balanced problem-solving approach, or using the assets of both perspectives and avoiding their liabilities. The key will always be knowing which time it is for which season, without going past the point of no return.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA, along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living on the scenic Snoqualmie River and mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, Re-Braining for 2000 (MJR Publishing); The Prosperity Zone (Authorlink Press); You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too (Executive Excellence); The Bow-Wow Secrets (Wisdom Tree); Do What Matters Most and “P” Point Management (Atlantic Book Publishers); Reality Repair, (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Publish America); Thoughts on Happiness; Pearls of Wisdom: A Dog’s Tale (Covenant Books, Inc.) Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 652-8067 or