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Beyond reaction, Beyond response a more human alternative



When we move from “reacting” to “responding”, we become less mechanical and more human. But, there is a step beyond “responding” that is even more human. It’s a possibility we often overlook.


From Reaction to Response


A reaction is mechanical. Someone cuts me off and I yell at them. That’s a reaction. I didn’t think about it, I just reacted.


A response is not mechanical. Someone cuts me off and I pause to consider what to do. In that pause, I make a choice. I may or may not yell at them, but having made a choice, I am less mechanical and more human.


It’s good (and more human) to react less and to respond more. But, there is another alternative that is even more human than “response.”


Beyond Reaction and Response


Sometimes on a spring day, walking through the grass, I just start to skip or sing. A joy within me, a creative spark of some kind, moves me. This isn’t a reaction or a response. It’s not like the grass and spring day suddenly pounce on me and I react mechanically. The grass and the spring day don’t prompt it. Nothing outside me prompts it. And, there is no deliberation. There is no choice. 


The absence of choice makes it sound like a reaction, but it’s not. It’s not reacting. It’s not parrying the experience that’s come to me. It doesn’t feel anything like a reaction. It’s not predictable. It’s allowing something new to emerge. 


And, it’s definitely not a response. The only choice I seem to have when initiating something this way is to get out of the way and let it happen. Pausing to think about it tends to make it disappear.


This way of behaving is the most human.

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