Charlottesville: Supremacy vs. Diversity

Dear Readers: Disagreement is an important reality of life for humans. Since developing the ability for advanced cognitive processing, we’ve rarely completely agreed on anything. Possibly the directions of up and down, and maybe that gravity exists, but beyond that, a difference of opinion is the norm. And that’s fine, good, and necessary as long as disagreement doesn’t degenerate into violence. The ability to think abstractly sets humans apart from other animals, but sadly, so does our tendency for violence in the name of an idea, desire, or belief.

The deadly events in Charlottesville last weekend highlighted this unfortunate aspect of human behavior. What happened there was an attempted to defy the most American of premises: That all people are created equal and are entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Class and economic distinctions may come and go, but the supremacy of one race over another flies in the face of our country’s founding documents. It also ignores the value of diversity. As humans, we can be equal, but different, and it’s those differences that give us strength as a people. While the concept of diversity clearly hasn’t yet found universal acceptance, to those who say it’s impossible to embrace diversity, I would like to offer the perfect example of why diversity is not only possible, but is absolutely necessary.

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An Interesting Twist: Earth Controlling Wood?

Dear Vicki: This may seem like a petty issue, but my sister is driving me crazy. We run a successful restaurant together – I’m the business manager and she’s the chef – but she just can’t get things done quickly. She’s a fantastic cook, and very creative in how she has decorated the place, but she takes forever planning menus, deciding on new china or wallpaper, or even leaving at night when we close the restaurant. We live near each other so travel together, and at night she must run back into the building at least three times to check if she started soaking this or turned off that. I love the restaurant and my sister, but she’s driving me nuts. It’s clear she’s an Earth, and I’m a Wood, which means that I’m on her Controlling Cycle, right? So why is she the one controlling me, and what can I do about it? Signed Not Really in Charge:

Dear Not Really: This is an interesting challenge for you. Yes, you and your sister do relate on the Controlling Cycle where it is your Wood that controls her Earth. But while you’re the manager of the restaurant, which is very important, people usually come to a restaurant to enjoy the food and ambiance, which is your sister’s bailiwick. Your normal Wood desire to charge forward on everything will, by necessity, be restrained by the fact that she is the guiding light for the important parts of the restaurant, at least the parts that matter to your patrons. In this way, she can, and probably does, control your behavior. And it’s no surprise you don’t like it. Woods really don’t like to be controlled.

The good news for you is that this joint venture with your sister is successful – clearly you’re doing a lot right. Even more good news is that you and your sister have found professions that suit each of you well. Earths usually love cooking and Woods are usually excellent managers. The bad news is that you are unhappy and frustrated. So let’s look at that in a way that will make sense to you.

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Fire and Water: Are They Doomed?

Dear Vicki: I feel silly writing, but I’m having trouble with my boyfriend Wilson. We met at college last fall and in spite of the fact that he’s a quiet, serious guy, we hit it off. Even though I usually hate the cold, we had a lot of fun last winter ice skating, throwing snowballs, and drinking hot cocoa while we talked late into the night. But he started getting moody in the spring and no matter what I tried, he wouldn’t cheer up. Now, in the middle of this glorious summer, he’s grumpy and doesn’t want to do any fun things outside anymore. The beach is too hot. The tennis courts are too hot. Everything is too hot! And he doesn’t like my friends. I love summer, love the fun of outdoor parties and connecting with people, and can’t imagine why he’s complaining. From what little I’ve read about the Five Elements, I think I’m an Earth because connecting with people matters to me. Is this relationship doomed? Please let me know so I can find someone else to have fun with the rest of the summer. Signed: Loves the Sun

Dear Loves the Sun: No relationship is ever doomed as long as you understand each other and are willing to put a little effort into meeting each other’s needs. It’s also important to understand yourself, so let’s start there.

You could be an Earth; connections certainly matter to Earths. But they want deep, lasting connections and will work hard to keep them, no matter what. You don’t sound like you’re in a space to do that. However, there is another element that values connections, and that’s Fire. Fires tend toward quick and fun connections rather than looking for something that will stand the test of time. Fires also enjoy being busy, usually appreciate summer activities, and often don’t do well with cold weather. Honestly, this sounds a lot like you, so I suspect you’re a primary Fire, not Earth.

On the other hand, Wilson sounds like he could be a Water. They enjoy winter more than most and are usually much less enthralled with hot weather activities. And while Waters usually tend to be loners, when love strikes, they will connect on a one-to-one basis. Noisy gatherings aren’t their thing, but quiet time alone with someone special works. No one is better at talking late into the night than Waters, especially if the topic involves philosophy or esoteric ideas. Because winter is Water’s season, the approach of spring sometimes makes them uncomfortable as they are moved away from their comfort zone. And summer? It’s way outside that comfort zone! Remember how much you normally hate winter? As a Water, Wilson will feel pretty much the same way about summer.

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Husband’s Earth: Parched, Depleted, or Present?

(Dear Readers: This is the final “oldie but goodie” post from the first year of our blog. It addresses several key relationship dynamics between the elements and makes a good final summation in our review. Enjoy!)

Dear Vicki: I’m a Wood married to a wonderful guy, but I’m having a hard time nailing down his element. A well-known Five Elements lecturer told me that my husband was “parched Earth, all dried up and just not there.” That made sense to me because I don’t see him as overly nurturing; in fact, at times he seems rather sharp. He is thin and strong (even at 62), he’s been an engineer and is now a doctor, and often calls himself the machine (he keeps working on whatever has to get done). His weak system is his gut in a way that affects his ability to eat most foods, and he was raised in a military family. In general, he’s usually intense, but I do sometimes see a softness to him that is such a contradiction, especially when he makes me treats like my favorite tea and snacks or does the dishes. He helps the neighbors a lot and will not harm a living creature. Can he be a parched Earth, and what does that mean? Signed, Very Confused

Dear Very Confused: Calling your husband a parched Earth that is “dried up” and “just not there” implies that your husband doesn’t have enough Earth available to him to access on a regular basis. There are many reasons someone won’t manifest much of a particular element, but the most basic options are:

  1. The missing element could be their fifth element; the one they have the least of in their makeup.
  2. The element could be lacking for them, meaning they were born with it and something about their life made it impossible for them to express it safely.
  3. The element could be depleted, meaning that their overall energy system is deficient in that specific element. This could be because that element is: a) over-controlled by an element on the Controlling Cycle (for Earth, it would be Wood), b) underfed by the element in front of it on the Nurturing Cycle (in this case, Fire), c) used up by the element that follows it on the Nurturing Cycle (in this case, Metal), or d) overworked from trying to control an abundance of the element it controls on the Controlling Cycle (for Earth that would be Water).

The concept of “parched Earth” implies that the Earth is there but has been impacted in a way that makes it unable to manifest. This rules out Option 1 (that it’s his fifth element) and leaves us with Option 2 (Earth lacking) or Option 3 (Earth depleted).

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Metal Sister Blocks Hawaiian Holiday

(Dear Readers: This is another popular post from three years ago. With so much hot weather lately, I suspect thoughts of December are welcome!) 

Dear Vicki: The holidays are approaching and I recently had a very frustrating conversation with my sister, who I am pretty sure is a Metal. We are both married with children and have always had Christmas dinner together since we were children. This year, my family has the opportunity to go to Hawaii for Christmas to stay in a friend’s timeshare for free. We live in a cold climate and this would be fantastic for my family. However, my sister is very upset at me for even considering doing something different for Christmas than we have done for years, which I think is quite unreasonable on her part and is making me angry. What should I do? Signed, Hoping for Hawaii

Dear Hoping for Hawaii, First let me say I think it’s amazing that you’ve managed to spend every Christmas dinner with your sister since you were children. What about your  respective spouses’ families? Have they never had Christmas dinner with you? My Wood fairness hopes that it’s just a matter of everyone living in the same town so that holiday time is equally shared with both sets of relatives. But that’s not the problem you wrote in about, so let’s talk about your dilemma.

I do believe you are correct in your assessment – your sister definitely sounds like a Metal. Traditions are very important to Metals, and for good reason. They have the ability to look back across the cycles and see what has worked and what hasn’t. And to a Metal, if something is working, why would anyone in their right mind want to change it? You don’t mention what your element is, but the fact that you think she is “quite unreasonable” and is “making you angry” suggests that you are probably a Wood. Since Metal and Wood relate via the Controlling Cycle (metal chops wood), her insistence on following traditions likely feels stifling to your sense of excitement in planning something different.

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