Competence Downshift

“Be careful about the government, as they approach a man only when they need him. They seem like good friends in good times, but they don’t stay for him in time of his trouble.” Ethics of the Fathers 2:3.

Competence downshift describes the change in language that white liberals use when talking to minorities. White liberals “presented less competence to Black interaction partners than to White ones.” (Dupree, 2018) Reading the whole article is enlightening. I am not questioning their motives, I am more concerned with this phenomenon and what it means for health and the information presented to you.

I have frequently seen this downshift occur based on race, education, and socio-economic status in the medical profession.

Dr. Robert “Rhondell” Gibson taught that there are 4 games being played in the man-made world and this downshift happens in all 4. They are :

  1. The organized religion game – this one tells you who is “good “and who is “bad.”
  2. The power policies game – this one tells you who is “in” and who is “out.”
  3. The healing arts game – this one tells you what is “normal” or “abnormal”
  4. The big business game – this one tells you what is “ugly” or “pretty.”

Competence downshift is not just an isolated peculiar phenomenon of white liberal politicians speaking to minorities, it is rampant throughout society and appears to be more common in liberal minded people. The reasons don’t matter. Be aware of which game is being played and how you are being spoken to / lectured to based on what might be perceived to be your identity regardless of the reality of it. It matters because to become our own authorities in making decisions health or otherwise, we seek to not be caught in these games and not held to abnormally low expectations based on the high priests of these 4 games.

What we seek and sometimes need to demand is what has been taught in all traditions, the presence of a real world interaction and connection where each person is unique and each acknowledges the spark of the Divine in the other and makes them neither higher or lower in terms of their ability to make decisions on their own. Yes, there are experts and mentors that we should seek for help, but the great teacher is one that doesn’t downshift and doesn’t hold expectations. They are the patient teachers our great traditions have spoken of for thousands of years. We sure need more of those! With the above in mind, it certainly isn’t a wonder, is it, that these teachers were held in contempt by those playing the 4 games.

The “Man-Made” World of Medicine

Drawing above by Jason and Mary Hunt of Orlando.

Dr. Robert “Rhondell” Gibson explains that the “real world” is a world where no two people are alike and no standards can be held against anyone. It is the free association of people without expectation, standards, fully accepting that each of us is unique.

The “Man-Made” world is the world of institutions and games with rules (even traffic is a game in this definition and I would say the rules are valuable here). I will go further in depth into this in another post but suffice it to say, that when I see someone in my office as a patient, they come in through the man-made world, but the second the exam door closes and we are interacting, it is my aim to make sure the real-world holds sway.

I don’t recall if I mentioned on this new blog but as of now, I still do free phone consultations for people. The conversations range from guidance on nutrition, fasting strategies, weight loss, psoriasis, lupus, and of late, conversations on the use of mental imagery for healing trauma of the past that was taught to me from my teacher of blessed memory, Gerald Epstein, MD.

Yesterday, I spoke to a woman who contacted me on my FB page and set up a call with me. She was suffering from pain related to ovarian cysts. In the small town she lived in, she had very few consultations with specialists but she saw who was available.

In these situations, knowledge of the “man-made world” of modern medicine can help. After taking a full medical history, I explained to her a referral to the closest university hospital, about 80 miles from her, would be the next logical step. I explained to her why a university hospital setting could help her and gave her the exact wording to use to ask her doctor in such a way to elicit a referral. These words would tell him or her that she means business and understands fully her need for more opinions.

How often do we get caught up in the man-made world and forget the real world? There are so many things to remember to stay awake in our hypnotic society and here is another question to ask yourself as the day goes by : To what extent have I identified the man-made world I am working in and am I allowing it to dictate my behavior and thoughts? Am I capable of recognizing that the person in front of me is a real person of which no two are alike, completely unique?

It’s a cliche but nowhere is the following paraphrased quote more apropos that your aim might be “To be in the man-made world, but not of it” In other words, you might physically be in the man-made world most of the time, but your substance, your true essence is not of that world.

The path of Western spirituality is that we engage the man-made world fully but constantly remind ourselves to be awake and cognizant of who we really are. In this case, your knowledge of the man-made world can be of assistance to the people you associate with in the real world 🙂 Avoiding the man-made world for spiritual bliss and non-disturbance prevents you from making significant contributions to the lives of those around you and it is in those contributions that lies the greatest happiness.

Rights, Privileges, and Health

A lot of people want to lose weight or get healthier because they want to reduce the amount of resistance or limitations in their lives.  They imagine some future imaginary end point where a certain weight and a certain health goal will fix some major issues in their life.   Resistance in general, which I have spoken about before, is a necessary component of growth.   It is also how we interact with the world around us.   It is the resistance of the clay against the potters hands, it is the tossing and turning of the ocean, that creates the beauty of the driftwood and the examples go on and on.  In our lives when we focus on a direction and are not staking everything on a specific outcome then we can maneuver and adapt as natural resistance comes and it always comes in some fashion.  Here’s the good news, the resultant creation or endpoint is often unexpected and often more beautiful.  

Many of us, however, mistake our health as a right and not a privilege.   One definition that appeals to me personally is the definition by Dr. Robert Rhondell Gibson.  He states that a right is something that you earned a right to and can’t be taken away from you.  So, since health, even life, can be taken away from you with right poison or a weapon, it is distinctly a privilege.  So as he says “Maybe the greatest way to lose your privileges is to mistake them for rights.”  

So, coming back to health, we have certain things about our lives that are privileges.  And in this is tied up the notion of gratitude.   For example, there is no question that the ability to walk is a privilege.   What I am saying really is that when you realize it is a privilege, then you would naturally expend every effort to maintain, enhance, and maybe gain more.   This is really the difference between greed and gratitude.  Greed wants more, better, and different from something that one has taken for granted.   Gratitude says that I see what I have as a wonderful privilege and I want to protect, enhance, and grow.  

Let’s take an example.  Walking : what a privilege.  How do you maintain, enhance, and gain more of that privilege?  You walk!  You stretch! You practice your balance, flexibility, and endurance! You condition your body and in so doing you are expressing gratitude for the gift that is walking.   Cooking!  What a privilege!  How do you maintain, enhance, and gain more?  You use it for your health so that you can continue doing it!   So what I am suggesting is that we start realizing that most of the good things in our life are not rights, they are privileges.  When it comes to health, we can start with where we are – if its walking or our ability to learn to cook better, or its our ability to choose healthier options in our food so that as I have said, we can expand, enhance, and gain more of that privilege if we wish to.  Take a look at your health and your health goals, you are already a very privileged human being I would venture to guess, all I am saying is perhaps we start spending time thinking about that and making an effort to secure your privileges.

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