Divided Minds, Divided Societies: How ILP Can Help Heal Social Division

Originally published at: https://integrallife.com/divided-minds-divided-societies-how-ilp-can-help-heal-social-division/

In this compilation of highlights from Divided Minds, Divided Societies: How ILP Can Help Heal Social Division, Integral Life CEO Robb Smith’s session at our recent exhale online retreat, Robb argues that it is partly our responsibility to help others reduce their fears in a world that’s getting more complex and feels more threatening to tens of millions of people — particularly those at earlier stages of development, education and openness.

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A caveat: I did not participate in the Exhale retreat and therefore did not hear the Q&A and perhaps other statements from Robb, so perhaps what I am addressing here was covered, discussed.

I so appreciate Robb’s work around the Transformation Age and the Great Release, which I have followed, and I overall found this Divided Minds piece to have an inspirational quality, as well as a “call to (loving) arms”. I totally agree that ILP can and should help heal social divisions; I also agree that “deep compassion and love” are needed and are potent instruments of any “awake” person or community in bringing about healing and change. I agree that we need to “up our game,” heal our own inner divisions/conflicts, and lead the way. I did however find myself with a few questions and wonderings after listening to this short compilation of highlights from the Divided Minds webcast

What I wonder about is whether defining the “opponent” as fearful, threatened, with values and behaviors in contrast to our own, who are in a mindset of constant threat-avoidance, a mindset of fear, not wanting to “grow up” through an educational-experiential process, who have a fundamental terror/fear at being in a world too complex for them–while I don’t dispute or disagree with any of this, I’m not sure it adequately defines the “red-and-amber group using orange mechanisms” we’re talking about. (Again, I did not hear anything more than this short compilation piece, so maybe there was more said.)

There are definite differences between rational fear/feelings of threat, anxiety, suspicion, and paranoia, and the group we are talking about probably has representation from all four of these mental states (and the Integral community probably does as well).

But let’s talk about the elephant in the room, now that mainstream media and online podcasters have been for quite awhile–paranoia. Paranoia is marked by symptoms of distrust and false accusations. One’s instincts or thought processes can be influenced by anxiety or fear to the point of delusion and irrationality, including persecutory beliefs or beliefs in conspiracies. While many or most people may experience an occasion of paranoia–paranoia or paranoid episodes can be caused by isolation or past traumatic experiences or severe anxiety–clinically it is also associated with psychotic, delusional, bipolar, and personality (paranoid) disorders. Some drugs, including some prescription drugs, can cause paranoia; some people experience paranoia using marijuana.

Further, according to social psychology theory (see Wikipedia), “paranoid social cognition” is a milder form of paranoia that may be quite common among “normal” individuals. Rather than stemming from intrapsychic conflict, it is seen as “an adaptive response to cope with or make sense of a disturbing or threatening social environment.” Some of the red-amber group might fit here, but…

…considering (according to David Brooks on PBS quoting a recent poll) 77% of Republicans distrust the election results, believing the election was “rigged/fraudulent” despite massive refutation of this by federal, state, and local agencies (both Republican- and Democrat-led) and considering (according to CdV citing a Forbes article) 57% of Republicans believe in QAnon, this is what I wonder: Given that depression and suicides have been on a somewhat dramatic upswing in the U.S, along with the opioid addictions, and given there does seem to be some paranoia of one kind or another out there, just how prevalent are conditions of mental illness in the U.S? Can the “distrust and false accusations” be attributed simply to pre-rational stages of development, or, along with the Covid-19 on the physical/gross level, are we experiencing a pandemic illness or epidemic on the subtle body/mind level as well? And is there any relation between the two, not in a gross-to-subtle cause-and-effect way, but some other way, perhaps the other way around? Maybe a subtle-to-gross cause-and-effect in the world-body/mind? (And lest we get too serious here, I mean it’s sort of weird to think about coronavirus originating in a bat and the kind of “battiness” we’re seeing in some public figures…:face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Further, I’m not sure that feelings of threat and fear, even paranoia, are all that is motivating the red-amber group. There is a tremendous sense of belonging these people feel, and there is also a great deal of libidinous/id pleasure associated with it. The Trump rallies in some ways have been like rock concerts–a big party, lots of fun, with lots of ritual through chants and cosplay, and a star attraction on stage energizing them. I don’t think this sense of belonging or the sense of fun and pleasure can be trivialized. People are riding a wave of the joys of power and tribe and energy/libido and ritual–and perhaps are adrenal-ized through any fear or threat they feel–that’s potent stuff. So along with our compassion and love, maybe we also need to help them ride these waves in other ways. And appreciate that they aren’t driven entirely by fear and threat. They laugh, they have fun.

While the ILP teachers are offering great stuff, I would offer the following in terms of concretizing our compassion and love: I think we need to be very grounded, deeply grounded on the earth and in our bodies, and in unity-consciousness if that’s available to us. I think we need to have extraordinary patience, like the patience of a seed that is capable of waiting 10,000 years before it germinates. I think we need to be trustworthy–our words and actions congruent. I agree with Robb’s findings and statements that emotion is the driver for many of this group, not facts or cognition, so arguing or trying to convince are not useful. Asking questions and showing interest and empathy are useful, in their rural/small town experience for instance, or in their sense of the eroding social position of Christianity where many of them may have deep and sad feelings; these things help build relationship and trust. Conversations don’t have to focus exclusively on politics.

I think we also need to learn more about the mind and various psychological states and conditions (although the average one of us is ill-equipped and not expected to “cure” someone else’s paranoia). I think we need to refrain from hyperbole and superlatives, i.e. model humility. And along with addressing belongingness in whatever ways we can, on up the Maslow scale, I think we need to look for ways to build their self-esteem where we can, without compromising our personal integrity.

I think we need to integrate our own power and love, and model that for others. Accountability still matters while we’re trying to win the moral high-ground. Love without power is weak, as power without love is corrupt.

For those of us so inclined, subtle and other spiritual practices are in order, and most of all, I think we have to have a healthy non-attachment to outcomes. It seems to me that, save for a black swan or miracle, the current political-cultural situation, as Robb says, will likely worsen.

Although some people would disagree–my astrologer friends tell me things will start taking a turn for the better around Winter Solstice. Some say that’s the beginning of the Aquarian Age, but then, Aquarian Age predictions are so “rinse-and-repeat,” they’re starting to rival the “end of the world” prophecies of religious fundamentalists. But maybe…

Thanks Robb Smith for your quality work.

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