Term: Spontaneous Collaborative Unanimity
Definition: a group of strangers suddenly acting from unanimous emotional intelligence to help another person.
Usage: I saw a beautiful act of spontaneous collaborative unanimity today when 3 people rushed to the side of a man having a seizure.
This morning, I read a post about such an act. A pregnant woman sobbing at a gate at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was traveling alone with her toddler, who was having a complete meltdown. Seven women from various spots around the gate approached, surrounded them, and offered what they had to calm the pair.
No one hesitated. No one spoke. No one coordinated. One woman had a toy, one a bottle of water for mom, and one an orange she peeled and offered the wailing toddler. The mom and child calmed down, collected themselves, and boarded the plane as the women dispersed.
The simple beauty of this moment moved me to tears. Questions raced through my mind, then quieted themselves. What matters in this story is the women observing the situation each was compelled to act, quickly found a way to be present, and went on their way. They didn’t need to be thanked, but I feel a need to thank them for exhibiting simple, beautiful intelligence and empathy.
It’s easy to avoid people in crisis, with good reason – we don’t know who they are, what their mental state is, or how they’ll react if we offer help.
Consider if it were you. You find yourself in crisis at the end of a terrible day. You’re in a public place, you’re alone, and are unable to do even the simplest task, like picking up your phone and dialing 9-1-1. If you experienced a visceral reaction by putting yourself in this spot, pay attention to that response.
We experience the world with our body, mind, and spirit.
You may prefer to say we experience it as our physical, mental, and emotional selves; in response to thoughts, beliefs, and actions; or because we are sensing, thinking, and feeling creatures. Regardless, each of these is a center of human intelligence to explore.
The women at LAX who acted in spontaneous collaborative unanimity used all three of their centers of intelligence, all of which were orchestrated by their brains. Their limbic system understood the situation and triggered a rescue response. Their cerebral cortex engaged and orchestrated a host of reactions, causing them to put their bodies on the level of the people in crisis and offer their physical presence and a reward. The mom’s and toddler’s mirror neurons picked up on the actions of the women and responded by moving from distress to calm.
We learn to suppress our limbic system responses, primarily because they’re emotional. But as we age, we often experience emotions more deeply than we did when we were younger. We’re often more free to express emotions rather than hiding or ignoring them as we did when we were younger.
Next time you see someone in need, give yourself the gift of dwelling on the choices that come into your mind so you are conscious of the range of ways to respond. We can allow ourselves to be empathetic or we can allow ourselves to be annoyed. When you practice the simple act of seeing your choices, you live mindfully and can respond thoughtfully.
In mindful responses, we have the power to change the world for the better. I’ll do it, will you?