From the time I was introduced to Ken Wilbur and “The Spectrum of Consciousness” in his book No Boundary back in ’92 – his ideas fascinated me. His philosophy has evolved into what he identifies as an Integral worldview. He connects ideas and perspectives across multiple disciplines rationally and persuasively. What seems incompatible or contrary, is not – it’s just a different piece of the puzzle.
When he published his eBook Trump and a Post-Truth World after the election, of course I downloaded it. Took me 9-months before I would sit still and look at it. When I did, I found an interesting take on what got us to today’s cultural conflicts, and what we might do if we’re not happy about it.
Wilbur’s a bit of a rebel; his theories are bold, original; visionary – and complex. While they aren’t necessarily written for the masses, they woke me long ago – and continue to bump me out of my mind ruts.
He reminds me that we all travel every phase of growth. We’re born narcissistic infants … who sooner or later discover how family and community can suffer from our behavior. As we mature we learn about science and humanity. We become rational; we discover diversity. We even begin to see how differences create strength. We learn there are universal truths.
We move through stages that Wilbur calls “pre-personal,” (magic / mythic) “personal,” (rational) and “trans-personal” (integral).
Depending on the cards we’re dealt, our strength of character – our willingness to examine life; we move through these stages. But some don’t. Some get stuck.
Sadly we can’t see beyond our level of development. Just like parents can’t reason with a toddler – we can’t make people see. Many remain judgmental and disapproving of things they don’t understand.
Wilbur estimates that ~60% of the U.S. population are in ego or ethno-centric phases of development. These citizens see little value in a global community, in science; diversity. What compassion and empathy they have, is generally reserved for their tribe.
Then there are the folks who claim a liberal, progressive outlook. Wilbur submits that a portion of these progressives took this position to a nihilistic / narcissistic extreme. Using logic and rational critical thinking, these postmodernists – haughtily and arrogantly disregarded those they felt beneath them. They forgot that they too once walked related paths. No wonder the self-proclaimed patriots pushed back.
“Every now and then,” Wilbur says, “evolution itself has to adjust course.” So we regress to a place where we were once stable – before we can self-correct and move forward again. That place for us was part of a domination hierarchy. A hierarchy that existed before we began to believe that hierarchies don’t exist – that all beliefs and opinions are valid; no matter how ridiculous (“flat-earthers” claim the earth is flat – for real).
Hierarchies do exist. Truth exists.
We embody a wondrous example of a holistic hierarchy. In No Boundary Wilbur says:
“.. just as, in evolution, a whole quark becomes part of an atom, a whole atom becomes part of a molecule, a whole molecule becomes part of a cell, a whole cell becomes part of an organism, and so on.”
Either we live in a society with a dominating hierarchy, or one with a holistic hierarchy . . . with natural, intrinsic truths. When we deny any hierarchy at all – that egalatarianism of viewpoints; we get “alternative facts” and conspiracy theories. When we deny universal truth . . . we deny that there IS a better way.
My preference is to live in a holistic hierarchy.
As I continued to read about the post-truth world, a message sunk in – again; how some of my relationships need a willingness – on both sides, to work toward a middle ground. Ground that allows authenticity and loving acceptance for the one who holds a contradictory belief. This can be a hard pill to swallow.
Ken Wilbur says “step one” is for the off-the-rails postmodernists (the “greens”) to reduce their “pervasive hostility and vindictiveness toward all previous stages of development…” – they really can’t see that dimension.
His “step two”— is for “the realization that growth holarchies provide the actual basis of the value judgments that green is already making, and that these growth holarchies also are the only truly eﬀective means to displace the dominator hierarchies…” – we must pursue growth, educate for growth; resist dominance.
Yes; I want a holistic hierarchy – not a dominating one. The sneering must stop – on both sides. If truth be known . . . inherent truth, not made up alternative facts – we must bring it to light. Again and again and again.
“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.” ― Mahatma Gandhi