In the wake of the Paris attacks, there’s been a whole lot of unhealthy Six-ness in public discourse.
Type Six is the Loyalist, the Defender, the Devil’s Advocate. The ruling passion of Six is fear, or anxiety. A stressed-out Six’s ego keeps them fearful and suspicious. Danger lurks around every corner! Look out!!
American political discourse is rife with unhealthy Six-ness. There’s an us and them mentality. Those other guys are evil, and worse yet, they’re unified! They’re taking action to destroy everything good! My side needs to circle the wagons, now!!!
Turfed out Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to leverage this fear of outsiders in the recent Canadian election, referencing “old stock Canadians” (us) and making an issue out of Muslim women wearing a niqab during their citizenship ceremony (them).
Now fear has gotten back into the driver’s seat for many of us. Some are fearful of allowing Syrian refugees into Canada or the US, denouncing politicians who’ve promised to do so. Implicit in this fear is the belief that these refugees, and muslims in general, are terrorists. Or at least ten per cent of them are, anyway. Keep them out!!
Enneagram author Russ Hudson said that American culture needs a strong dose of healthy Six. And this doesn’t just refer to those of us who identify with Six as our Enneagram type. We all have that energy. We can all find the Six in us.
While an unhealthy Six is cynical, mean-spirited, prejudiced, and highly positional, a healthy Six knows that everyone counts and has equal weight. A unhealthy Six will view an entire pack of “others” as uniform and threatening, but a healthy Six can see the difference between individuals and know that blanket statements that fan the flames of fear don’t give an accurate picture at all. The healthy Six sees the actual people struggling under the heel of oppression, and rushes in to defend and protect them.
Classifications separating people are manufactured. George Carlin (a famous Six) pointed this out in his book Brain Droppings, when he said “Everyone is from somewhere else. All people are refugees, immigrants, or aliens. If there were natives anywhere, they would be people who still live in the Great Rift Valley in Africa where the human species arose. Everyone else is just visiting.”
Extremism – in both religion and politics – is born from fear. It’s an unflattering truth to face that reactionary Canadians and Americans are operating from the same mentality as the terrorists they’re afraid of.
Our instinct to fear and distrust others developed to help us survive in a different time. It’s regressive to adopt it now.
We can rise above this way of being. We can thank the fearful vigilance in us for its concern, and act with clarity and humanitarian compassion that extends to all people fleeing harm and oppression.