HEALING THE POLITICAL DIVIDE - A LIBERAL MEETS TRADITIONAL!
by Dr. Jon Repole, DC, NC, HHP, CPT, CFMP
The election is over!
Unfortunately, however, the aftermath will more than likely continue to breed hatred, disharmony, insecurity, and misunderstanding in the upcoming months and years to follow. These metastatic fear-based impulses have truly been hard for me to swallow! And like all shadow elements of the psyche – they need to be taken out from the attic of our unconscious, looked at, integrated, and transcended.
This article is not about “convincing” anyone to change their beliefs or paradigms. In fact, the word convince has its roots in the word conquer and means to overcome by argument. We can disagree but should all strive not to be disagreeable. This election reminds me of the old adage, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.”
I have an insatiable appetite to understand the events of our recent past. I strongly believe that the health of us as individuals, the health of our nation, the health of our global community, the health of our planet, the health of all sentient beings, and the health of the Kosmos is INTERDEPENDENT and is literally counting on us for its very survival. An awe-inspiring evolutionary drive is beckoning us to understand, to come together, to find common ground, and to practice forgiveness as we tip toe with caution through the post Trump-Clinton-Sanders battleground.
After 15 years of working with patients and a lifetime of working on myself, I have come to believe in a metaphysical universal law that simply states, “Doing good for the Kosmos is, in essence, indistinguishable from doing good for us as individuals.” I call it Kosmic Heath (Note: To learn more click HERE for previous post/video on Kosmic Health. The word Kosmos is distinguished from the word cosmos in that the former includes consciousness, spirituality, the material and non-material subjective and objective realities of the individual and collective. The latter only includes the physical dimensions of reality such as the “stuff” that the earth, stars, and other planets are made of.)
This law is so consistent that I cannot think of any time in my life where it has not served me. The armor of Truth it encapsulates has given it superhuman strength allowing it to easily deflect both inner and outer critics from trying to prove its Pollyanna-like flaws. In its simplest meaning, the golden rule becomes reinterpreted from “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” to “You and the other (all of manifestation) are one, so whatever you do to another you do unto yourself.” In essence, giving and receiving are interpreted as synonyms. And the idea that there is no real “altruistic” behavior is verified simply because the giver of love always receives in larger than life dividends. Varying disciplines from philosophy, quantum physics to metaphysics suggest that we do not only live in the universe, but the universe, in fact, lives in us. We are not islands onto ourselves and, thus, must not behave with this pathological autonomy.
It is within our nation’s very soil that the seeds of fear are sprouting. We begin to look at our fellow citizens, friends, and family – trying desperately to understand each other – especially in regards to our recent political divide and voting decisions. Before I discuss how we can come together and begin the process of healing, I think it is imperative to discuss a few critical topics that will allow us to granulate this discussion for better understanding.
Many of the issues being debated and discussed over the past 18 months fall into a very special category that has been referred to as, “wicked problems.” Wicked problems are distinguished from “tame problems” in that the former is an intractable problem that is at best difficult and at its worst impossible to solve. This term was first proposed and attributed to Professor Horst W J Rittel and formalized in 1973 at the University of California, Berkley. A modern day re-interpretation of the term holds that a problem is, in a sense, wicked if the following criteria are present:
- Multi-dimensional: The problem exists in multiple dimensions such as – political, economic, sociological, technological, legal and environmental.
- Multiple stakeholders: The problem involves lots of people with varying perspectives and values. Each stakeholder is affected in one or all of the multi-dimensions and each stakeholder views the cause and solution differently.
- Multiple causes
- Multiple symptoms
- Multiple solutions
- Constantly evolving: Stakeholders change, solutions change, etc. Trying to solve a wicked problem is like trying to hit a moving target.
World views are the unconscious glasses or lenses we use to filter our reality, interpret our lives and the lives of those around us. They inform our individual choices, dress our cultural context, shape our identities, and underlie our disagreements.
Through the pioneering work of Ken Wilber, Clare Graves, Jean Gebser, Don Beck, and others there have been postulated a dozen or so bio-psycho-social coping systems that humans have evolved to solve real and existential problems arising within a particular time or place in history. Names for such structures are referred to as: archaic, magical, mythical, rational, integral and so on. For simplicity, I will siphon out the basic tenets of their research as it applies to this particular blog post. The three “world views” we will discuss are traditional, modern and post-modern.
To begin our discussion of the three world views, it helps to understand the following definitions:
- Egocentric: a world view whereby everything revolves around me
- Ethnocentric: a world view whereby everything revolves around by clan, tribe, religion, nation, family
- Worldcentric: a world view whereby everything revolves around humanity with an orientation of non-discrimination regardless of race, sex, creed or color
- Kosmocentric: a word view whereby everything revolves around humanity, the cosmos, all sentient beings regardless of species – embracing the six-legged speck to our canine counterparts – and, finally, all of manifestation or that which can be seen and that which cannot
Traditional World View
This world view is ethnocentric. There is an unconscious or conscious belief in the superiority of one’s clan, tribe, family or nation – “we are the chosen one” is the underlying motto. There are, of course, both healthy and pathological versions of each of the world views. For example, all religions are “ethnocentric” in theory and literally all of them have some type of “jihad” from mild to extreme. In the healthy version – we can preach to you, try to covert you, and try to convince you of our view. In its more pathological representation – we will try and coerce you, and if we can’t convince you, then we will kick you out (i.e. Muslim ban), and finally there are attempts made (via extremists) to “kill the infidel.” All human conflicts are ethnocentric to ethnocentric confrontations.
Traditionalist’s views can be summed up in the notion of “saints or sinners” or “the good and bad.” Healthy ideas include traditional family values, law and order. Pathological versions take wicked problems and try to reduce them to simple solutions (“build a wall” in regards to immigration – a simple solution to a wicked problem), extreme punishment for wrong-doing (rather than trying to reform) and the questioning of science (not from a post-modern reductionist argument) but from an altogether flat out rejection (i.e. climate change is not real).
Traditional word views are almost exclusively fed through what psychologist, Abraham Maslow, calls deficiency needs. The two basic categories of human needs include – deficiency (physiological, safety, security, etc.) and growth needs (self-actualization, contribution, and self-transcendence). In essence, one must satisfy the deficiency needs in an effort to reach higher growth-related needs, values, and concerns.
I believe, that one of the greatest mistakes post-modernists (i.e. liberal Democrats) made was in their inability to hear the fears of the traditionalist. In fact, if safety needs feel threatened (security due to terrorism, environmental stability, freedom, law and order, etc.) then climbing to higher human needs and values (worldcentric and Kosmocentric) is, in essence, unobtainable. The hierarchy of needs states emphatically that deficiency needs must be met (whether they are real or imagined) before one can LISTEN, ENGAGE or DISCUSS worldcentric and Kosmocentric issues and values.
The Right disregarded the higher value concerns of the Left and in doing so appeared “egocentric” while the Left disregarded the safety concerns of the Right and in doing so appeared as an idealistic Pollyanna.
Although the concerns of traditionalists are real. It is important to understand the movement of evolution and the actual facts surrounding our current state of affairs. To be clear and to avoid disagreement – the term evolution as I propose and use it here is simply the notion of change over time. When I look in the mirror, for example, I can see clear, distinct differences between my 10-year old self and my 2016 version – that’s evolution.
Evolution (in every sphere of existence) has moved to increasing levels of care, compassion and concern along with integration (and not exclusion) of what has come before. For example, even the very building blocks of life go through this “evolutionary process” – atoms contain quarks, cells contain atoms, molecules contain cells, tissues contain cells, and so on. I believe the hand of evolution has demonstrated that the world is actually more loving and embracing then it has been in the past. As a society, however, there exists a paradox between opinion and fact – simply because a vast majority of people think the world is worse off – crueler, less compassionate, less safe, and more waring. It is a fact that our pre-history started out at a startling contribution of more than 90% of the relative population actively engaging in war, slavery, sexism, racism, etc. This percentage has continued to decrease each and every century.
I am not DENYING HEADLINES (such as news of terrorism and the like). I am, however, REJECTING the media’s conclusions on the inherent meaning and the unnecessary fear-mongering it creates. My conclusions from the news is that a very small group of people with pathological jihadist conventional views have access to modern technological advances (bombs and the like). The media (with its negativity bias) and the various Trump-like organizations are fueling our fears by correlating the attributes of the few with entire groups of people. In doing so, a dangerous path is initiated aligning with potent forces that are trying to move us backward into some romantic notion of the past. And as we will soon see, it is both through the hands of modernity and post-modernity that we have achieved our greatness as a species and not through the romanticism of the traditional or conventional world views.
Consider the Following FACTS
- Global life expectancy has gone from 47 (1950s) to 70 (2011)
- Every country in the world has lower rates of infant and child mortality as compared to 1950s
- Percentage of people in extreme poverty (less than $1.25/day) went from 40% (1981) to 14% (2010)
- World-wide rate of death from civil and interstate war was 300 per 100,000 world population in WWII, then to almost 30 during the Korean War, to low teens in the Vietnam era, to single digits in 70’s and 80’s to less than 1% in 21t century
- Slavery is now illegal in everywhere on earth
- Murder rates continue to fall: 557,000 deaths in 2001 to 289,000 in 2008
Modern World View
The modern world view can be summed up with the motto, “winners and losers.” It is also a movement from ethnocentric to worldcentric. And although Trump predominately ran his campaign and exhibits pathological forms of conventional values he does hold, albeit a few, some healthier versions of the modern world view. Modernity brings with it ideals of business success, wealth, achievement, freedom, power and individual responsibility. Modernity began with the Renaissance and is responsible for science, the movement from monarchy to democracy, and the elimination of slavery from every modern industrial culture on the planet.
Post-modernism started only about 100 years ago and came to full prominence with the revolutions of the 1960s. It is the bridge between worldcentric to Kosmocentric. It is critical of materialism, reductionist science (i.e. that which does not include the whole), environmental impacts of modern technology, and the injustices of global capitalism. It is what brought about the environmental movement, civil rights movement, protection for the disabled/handicapped, animal rights, and more. It stresses the values of pluralism, material to post-material values and has a critique on virtually every “ism” from sexism, ageism, speciesism, etc.
In its unhealthy version, it hates and blames modernity for all the ills of society. And although it claims that there is no superior view – it clearly believes its views are true and everyone who disagrees is wrong. The biggest problem here, of course, is that 70% of the world’s population has an ethnocentric center of gravity and by not embracing both healthy traditional and modern word views is says NO to compromise or discussion. It fails to recognize that literally everything - individuals, families, nations, educational systems, our collective humanity, socioeconomic structures, religions, and even nature herself have all evolved through stages of increased complexity, increased differentiation, increased inclusion and increased integration. Even Gandhi and the Buddha started out at an individual stage of egocentric (healthy version) level of development when they were children.
Thus, at any given time on planet earth there will always be a mix of pre-modern, modern, and post-modern ideals simply because individuals move from infancy, childhood, adolescence to adulthood and go through various perspectives in a sequential evolution from egocentric, ethnocentric, worldcentric to Kosmocentric. Humanity (as a collective force) has also moved in the exact same progression from egocentric to Kosmocentric. People, groups, nations, however, can get “stuck” at certain levels of development – especially if their deficiency needs are not met. For example, one could argue that Trump’s moral lines of development are stuck at egocentric while some of his ideas on the economy are more ethnocentric to worldcentric.
4 Aspects of ALL Phenomenon
According to integral theory there are 4 aspects to every phenomenon – the subjective (the “I” domain – such as feelings, and emotions), intersubjective (“we” domain – such as culture), the objective (“it” domain – such as the physical body) and the interobjective (“its” domain – “systems” such as political, economic, infrastructure, governance, etc.). Integral theory is complex, so I will attempt to explain this idea through two examples: health care and poverty.
Dis-ease” is multi-dimensional and therefore requires a multi-dimensional treatment plan. Thus, it would be naïve to think we can find one magic bullet to heal all our ills. Using Integral Theory we would try to take into account the subjective realities of the patient (beliefs, feelings, emotions, etc.), their intersubjective realities (culture, family relations, etc.), their objective realities (the physical body and all its correlates such as exercise, nutrition, sleep ergonomics, etc.), as well as all of the interobjective structures (socioeconomic status, insurance, and so on) that are in place and influencing the patient – albeit consciously or unconsciously. In this example, the Right, of course, would focus on the subjective (individual responsibility) while the Left on the interobjective (government responsibility).
Poverty is most certainly a type of “wicked problem” – as discussed previously. The Right believes that the solutions to poverty lie within the individual (don’t work hard enough, not a strong enough work ethic, expects government to do everything for them). Their concentration is in the subjective domain as it was in the health care example.
The Left believes poverty is “society’s fault” and that the individual is not to blame (it must have been the way they were raised, inequality, oppression, sexism, racism, etc.). Since they focus less on the subjective domain, their main focus becomes the its-domain (systems, government, etc.).
The problem, of course is that all aspects (the I, We, It, and Its domains) are integral and contain partial truths. All of the pieces must be brought to the table rather than pivoting one against the other. Unfortunately, it is the nature of democracy that as the power of balance shifts (from Right to Left and vice versa) so do the solutions – in a never ending spiral.
OK, So Where Do We Go From Here?
I have to admit – I did not take into account how strong the fears of the far Right and traditionalists were.
I now see, however, that we all have elements of each world view (traditional, modern, and post-modern) somewhere deep within the subconscious structures of our psyche. I now understand that we must begin to look AT rather than through our current world view so that we can all join together in a kind of “awakening.” This awakening would take place through the process of shining the light of awareness in an attempt so that we can “see” both the pathological and healthy versions of each world view. In doing so, we can then embrace the healthier aspects and transcend the pathological versions. We need to stop the war that pivots traditionalists against the Lefty globalists.
A Note to the Right
It is important to continue to embrace the values of family, work ethic, security, safety, etc. But I propose it is time to reflect on pathological ethnocentric views that are made with an “all or nothing” air of egocentrism. I truly believe they are made out of fear in an attempt to move the discussion towards the Right. In doing so, however, it creates years and decades of unneeded animosity.
For example, the Left cannot and will not compromise in the months and years to follow with any attack on general human DECENCY – or the values of protecting the rights of all people (regardless of race, color, creed or sex) as well as all sentient beings (regardless of species).
In regards, to the environment – we need to throw away the idea of CLIMATE CHANGE! It serves absolutely no purpose, in my opinion. Arguing the correlations or causations of man and woman’s destructive behaviors and choices on whether the climate is changing is absurd. Let’s call it what it is – ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCITON – and allow it to stand on its own without making correlations and causations as to what it is doing to the climate. From this perspective, the Right and Left can all agree that polluting the rivers, oceans, tributaries, factory farming and the need for recycling and a movement away from fossil fuel dependency – is just simple COMMON SENSE! We can all agree that we want to eat healthy foods, drink clean water and breathe fresh air, for example.
A Note to the Left
As the traditional values go unheard and their deficiency needs unmet – they will continue to feel that the very fabric of the nation is being torn away from right under their feet. They will, in turn, continue to see the globalists values as idealistic and naïve. Traditionalists fear loss of nativism and believe there is no longer a safe place to raise their kids, national borders that mean nothing, and so on. Globalists (the far Left) need to acknowledge these deficiency needs and help our fellow citizens to feel both secure and safe. In doing so, the opportunity to discuss and tackle higher order concerns (worldcentric and Kosmocentric) will become more tangible and obtainable.
Lastly, the arrow of evolution needs to continue in its embrace of increasing levels of care, compassion, and concern. This is not a Pollyanna plea – we must not throw the “baby out with the bathwater” just because both sides have not gotten their way. We must try to embrace the non-pathological aspects of the world views. We must take into account all four aspects of each phenomenon as discussed previously. In regards to terrorism, for example, that means looking at the I-space or interiors of our own hearts and taking responsibility for the part we play while at the same time continuing to address the so-called traditional areas. It is not an “either or” solution but rather a “both and” integration of all the partial truths. Thus, the solution evolves to add an attack on terrorism (rather than just terrorists), racism (not racists), etc. Malala Yousafzai, Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, tells us, “With guns you kill terrorists. With education you kill terrorism.”
I will leave this post with a quote from Marianne Williamson. On the surface, many will embrace its core teaching while others will dismiss it as naïve. Remember, the goal is for us to come together and quotes or ideas such as the one to follow CAN BE put alongside healthy versions of traditional, and conventional approaches. I will never let go of my idealism – but I do promise to embrace – with an open heart – those individuals whose ideas, beliefs are different than my own.
“Our biggest problem is not that a few people hate with conviction but that not enough people love with conviction. Love is the answer. Yet, look at how terrifying that is to the ego. We find the notion that love is our salvation more frightening than war.”