Everyone benefits from PAXIS Work

When we are working with schools, families, communities, governments, businesses, or leaders, we often start out with the “Suitcase Exercise” asking folks present to list all the good things they want for the people they care about at home, at work, or in the community - to carry in their “suitcases of life” as well as what heavy burdens they don’t want those same people to carry in their suitcases of life. 

These lists are amazing and nearly the same all over the world – seemingly part of the genetic coding of what it is to be human. Then, we ask how they want the friends’ suitcases of the people they care about to be packed. The answer after a momentary stumble is: “The same things.” And we pose , “What about the friends’ friends’ suitcases?” Immediately, folks say, “The same.”

Then we pose the deep question, “Why do you wish all of those other people to have similarly well-packed suitcases for life?” The audience typically responds, “Because if they don’t have well-packed suitcase for life, the people we love will be harmed. Both good and bad are contagious.” 

This is the nature of our work – to leverage the unique quality of humans to be prosocial with others we have no kinship with and to leverage and maximize prosocial relationships everywhere for everyone’s benefit. This is what scientific papers call, “The Nurturing Environment”:

-    to richly reinforce prosocial behavior

-    to reduce toxic influences

-    to limit problematic behaviors, and

-    to increase psychological flexibility.

This is not a rosy, posy approach. It is grounded in the evolutionary paradox that human groups are a common pool resource where we can all benefit. Conversely, the tragedy of the common pool resource can occur with greed and avarice taking all and leading to the collapse of the good… with violence, poverty, poor health, and insecure futures as the consequence. 

If you survey all the good that is in your life or the lives of the other people you care about and fully acknowledge your deepest fears, it is clear that our futures depend on good futures of others from the moment we are born until the day we die.

This is why we at PAXIS don’t focus on just a few when applying prevention science. We focus on everyone so that all live and excel- at home, at school, at work, at play, everyday, everywhere, for everyone. Our futures require it.