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How the heck did we get here?

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

Sometimes things just have to get worse before they get better.

Most of what can be said about last weeks events has already been said by politicians, pundits and journalists, and it's easy to get swept up in the emotions and glued to the screen. I read a paper the weekend prior to the Capitol attack, that really helped put these events into perspective as it provides a meta-perspective on what is happening, why it's happening, and it draws two possible outcomes. I wanted you to have access to that too.

Trump and the Post-Truth World: An Evolutionary Self-Correction

by Ken Wilber

For years, I've had this image in my mind: Trump with a slingshot in this hands trying to pull progress back, back, back. The rubber is about to break, the more he pulls, the more tension until the tension has to release. And when it does - progress will be catapulted faaaaaaar.

Wonder if we are at the point where the rubber is about to break?

Ken Wilber wrote this piece right after the election in 2016 and sent it unedited to his community. It's based on Dr. Clare Graves Spiral Dynamics model, which maps the evolutionary path every individual human being and societies at large go through. Some people and societies have a higher consciousness or awareness, some are at lower levels. To me this was THE explanation why some see lies and deceptions and others see truth teller and freedom fighter.

Before going into the stages or memes of the Spiral Dynamics, two more ideas to round out the picture and help understand the document above based on the Integral Theory:

  1. Ken Wilber created the Integral Theory that suggests the synthesis of all human knowledge and experience. At it's core it states : "Everybody is right about something"

  2. Holons. Everything in the universe is a part in itself and part of the larger whole. (Like atoms are part of cells, are part of tissue, ..... are part of a human, is part of society... you get the idea)

Spiral Dynamics:

None of us is born 'enlightened' or highly conscious. Achieving higher levels of consciousness is a process we all go through from the day we are born until we die. If we get 'stuck' at lower levels, we literally do not have the perspective and access to knowledge and wisdom. It doesn't mean that we are dumb, or ill intentioned - it means we actually can't see and are caught in believing that we are right and are doing the righteous thing.

Let's look at these levels individually from the bottom up:

The beige meme: 0-18 months With the core idea of Survival. It’s infantile, instinctive, and the ‘Self’ is barely awakened.

The purple meme: 1-3 years

The magical and animistic meme where we integrate into a family or tribal unit for our survival.

The red meme: 3-6 years

The world is a jungle full of threats. Breaking free from constraints to do whatever one desires. Conquers and dominates other aggressive characters.

The amber theme (blue in spiral dynamics): 7-8 years

Laws, regulations, discipline build character. Order enforces a code of conduct. Impulsivity is controlled through guilt.

The orange theme: 9-14 years

Plays the game to win. Manipulates resources to achieve a good life. Wants to get ahead, seeks success and financial gain.

The green theme: 15-21 years

Reaches decisions through reconciliation and consensus processes. Seeks to preserve earths resources and spread opportunities equally among all.

Now this green phase is what Wilber explains is the 'green leading edge' which collapsed on itself in part due to leading through consensus. It's gifts include the civil rights movement, sustainability movement, personal and professional feminism, but where it started to get stuck or collapse was when - well intended - all perspectives were valued equally driven by arcane arguments in academia which started to become self contradictory and collapsed into nihilism and narcissism. That gave way to the post-truth world where 'what I want to be true is true'. And Trump is decidedly most skilled at that. Alternative facts. Remember?

Trump managed to align and unite the purple, red, amber and orange memes against the leading edge green meme. All his decisions were anti-green and embraced by all lower levels. Thus trying to turn back time, turn back progress.

Wilber argues that there are two possible ways forward and we can see that battle play out right now:

The leading green edge self corrects by asserting it's leadership role. This includes for individuals to embrace an understanding that consciousness in lower stages don't have the viewpoint or perspective and instead of vilifying and fighting, ask how can we help the evolutionary process?

Or, alternatively, the Second tier of Transpersonal being into the next higher state has started emerging. Wilber and other luminaries argue that 10% of the population at a higher evolved stage will change the entire culture. Looks like we are on track here.

The integral meme: no specific age

And that, in my opinion, is actually very exciting!