[S]ay you have a book whose front cover is blue and whose back cover is orange. Show the book, front and back, to a five-year-old child. Then hold the book between you and the child. You are looking at the orange cover, and the child is looking at blue. Ask the child what color he is seeing, and he will correctly say blue. Ask the child what color you are seeing, and he will say blue. A seven-year-old will say orange.
In other words, the five-year-old cannot put himself in your shoes and take your point of view. He does not have the cognitive capacity to step out of his own skin and inhabit yours for a while. And therefore he will never really understand your perspective, will never really understand you. There will never be a mutual recognition. Nor can he therefore truly, genuinely, care for your point of view, however much he may emotionally love you. - Ken Wilber
The subject of meme-containers, echo chambers and worldviews can sound intellectually dry and sterile. I suppose I've been thinking about this topic for a long time - I feel my Never Vote Straight Party and Strong Opinions Lightly Held posts are among the most important I've ever written.
There are real casualties in idelogical warfare. The recent U.S. elections roundly demonstrated a macrocosm result of ideological gulfs - gulfs that begin in our own homes, families, friendships, neighborhoods, cities, states, businesses, churches, and anywhere where more than two people meet (or clash).
I'm sitting on the couch at my sisters' house the day after the elections. She is sullen. It was like being in a funeral home during the day throughout her university department corridors and offices, she recounts. The Republicans have won several positions in both federal and state elections. I try to console her by saying that the new governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman, sounds like a very independent-minded broad thinker albeit Republican (if truth be told if I were still a Utahn, I might have voted for him but I couldn't go quite that far). She shot a look at me as if I am suggesting inviting the murderer to the wake.
Bush comes on the TV screen for his acceptance speech and she walks out of the room. She returns a few minutes later to lower the volume because she can "still hear his voice."
Throughout the visit, I find myself consciously 'walking on eggshells' weighing in advance how to delicately say whatever it is I might say. My upcoming vacation to Thailand and India this winter seems relatively benign territory. We both share a passion for travel. "India? I could never go there as long as they have the caste system in place."
I struggle to find the spot of land - a little patch of grass swaying in the canyon gusts - across the ever-widening gulf to build a bridge. Our values aren't inherently that different. But it has come to the point where if I can perceive the other's side, I am excluded and righteously so.
She's already stopped speaking entirely to our mother two years ago.
I don't care to change my sister's mind. But I don't know where to go from here. It's ok to talk about the weather - which was fickle during my stay and provided ample conversation starters - but I'm running out of safe ground. I love my sister very much and it pains me to extent she and I are drifting away. A walled off garden - even with its utopian charm - is a lonely prison.
I used to be right there with my sister. Tears would stream down my cheeks when I saw another clearcut in the forest and my heart would sear: why did they do this? Now I am more apt to have that wrenching emotional reaction when a rancher and environmentalist despise each other, send escalating threats and taunts indirectly and only agree to "talk" in court.
By the time a child reaches the age of seven, he or she has made the shift to encompass the concept of 'other', and thus moves from an egocentric to ethnocentric worldview.
The young child steps out of his or her own limited perspective and begins to share the views and perspectives of others - so much so that the child is often trapped in the views of others... Although the individual at this stage can to some degree step aside from his own perspective, he cannot easily step aside from the group's. - Ken Wilber
There is continuum in our capacity to encompass wider and deeper perspectives into our perceptual awareness and relatedness that grows from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric or, in other words, from me to us to all of us.
"The more you grow, the more you grow beyond you," says Wilber.
When I ran my hyperlocal online women's zine (the idea was one day to spin it out to other cities) I stressed that it was for progressive women. Basically 'progressive' was the code word to attract those that shared my ideology, definitely weren't LDS, and thus belonged to the "one of us" camp. I still attracted a progressive element to the 'zine, but I was surprised that men were equally attracted. They stretched my mind and taught me to widen my own perspective from men or women to something more inclusive - a highest common denominator.
One of reasons my books have reached so many people and helped them transform the way they look at the world and think about everything is precisely because it’s not about matriarchy or patriarchy. We are talking about the partnership model. - Riane Esler
Her first book "rocked the male-based academic world and helped add fuel to the fire of the feminist movement." Exactly. And that's why her second book, The Power of Partnership, has never received the acclaim of the first: it's a bridge-building book. The quote above was garnered from The Psychic News Reader. Something I would have been hard-pressed to reference in the wide open public not that long ago. Still, I feel I should somehow add that I found it via Google, lest you think I am a regular reader. Hmmm, curious, why is that so? Whether I believe or don't believe in psychic ability (in this case I found it via Google, but I wouldn't avoid it either) I still get a lot of value from Riane Esler's interview.
Creativity and innovation are among the biggest casualties in ideological warfare. I say things in person and in this blog to purposefully cross over the closed meme-container boundaries and thus as a side-effect possibly ruffle feathers. It's entirely intentional as creativity and innovation is intertwined with remaining open-ended: riding the crest of open-ended waves in fact and exploring the unknown. I know how the buzz game is played yet I refrain from fueling closed-meme-attractor-system flames. Does it cost me clients? Readers? Perhaps, but that's ok because the larger goal isn't about popularity.
An acquaintance shares with me that he recently lost an existing Midwest client when they stumbled across a handful of photos of Burning Man amidst the thousands of photos in his personal online album. What's an innocuous photo and whom is the judge, evaluator and inquisitioner of moral integrity? Who really lost what here: It's the client that lost my friend's multi-dimensional, global, worldcentric perspective and talent on innovation in this case (something they didn't have in-house).
The recent elections demonstrate that the split in the microcosm is writ large onto the world. The whole blue-red states thing just won't go away. I was touched by this blue-staters' story about family via CultureKitchen (worthwhile in its entirety):
My brother and sis-in-law are some of the most giving people you'll ever meet. And they take personally the poverty that's around them. They're always talking about lifting up the community. They are the kind of people that will give you a plate of hot food, will open their houses to anyone in times of need and will find a way for those who have no hope. And they are rabid, anti-liberal, anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, christian fundamentalists. But such is their compassion that at least they pray for my abortionist and atheist soul.
I honestly do not know if they voted for BushCo, but let's say it would not shock me.
David Brin, author of The Transparent Society, speaking at the Accelerating Change conference - a predominately scientific-rationalist-left-brained community I'm fairly active in - wins their approval by obliquely linking Jesus to "someone's acid trip 2000 years ago." But then his voice drops several decibels and he shifts away from the fire-fueling.
We need to talk to people - not stymize them. We only fire up their ire if we don't have a dialogue. If you look at distribution of votes within Ohio, within Florida - rural American is pitted against urban American. Seventy-plus Republican papers changed their stance for the first time in history. But we're showing our bigotry by only looking at urban America. But we're not all there is, are we?
Romantics don't have to be grateful, but they do have to be dragged into this century.
And the way to do that is not aggressively.
It's with love. Every citizen in Manhattan should adopt a small town in Ohio and invite them to their homes for a week. - David Brin
I attended a new-to-me church's entertainment program (not a regular church service) last Sunday and I find it interesting to observe how much people go out of their way to emphasize that they are "spiritual" not "religious", and "you know there is a difference." It's just another code word. I'm not a red-stater would do just as well to get their point across: I'm not one of them. I've recently stopped using the "spiritual" code word altogether. If someone brings the atheist subject up in scientific-business-technical circles, I don't shy away from throwing out that I am deeply religious. I don't go any farther than that unless asked. But saying I'm religious opens up much more richer conversation with those that are shocked at the juxtaposition of my even being in attendance (as if they were mutually-exclusive).
There is much suffering in the world - physical, material, mental. The suffering of some can be blamed on the greed of others. The material and physical suffering is suffering from hunger, from homelessness, from all kinds of diseases. But the greatest suffering is being lonely, feeling unloved, having no one. I have come more and more to realize that it is being unwanted that is the worst disease that any human being can ever experience. - Mother Theresa
Being unheard, unappreciated and unlistened to is intimately linked with unwantedness. The isolation is overpowering. We can move away from the separation by remaining open-ended rather than closed meme-attractors ourselves.
The spiral of development is a spiral of compassion, expanding from me, to us, to all of us: there standing open to an integral embrace and the genuine possibility of a world at peace. - Ken Wilber