Wicked Problems: Gun Violence


This is an incredibly important topic and I applaud Ken and Corey’s presentation of it. I began writing a reply when I first heard its original form, live, several weeks ago, but other priorities got the better of me. So, let me scribble my response here now, before I lose my train of thought a second time…

Corey brings up the topic of American gun culture and links it to individualism. A very powerful point. But I’d suggest that an additional important aspect of American individualism, historically, is Christianity. Combine these two dimensions, and we get an interesting insight into American individualism/exceptionalism.

I’m from Australia. The individualism dimension is lacking in Australian culture. Australia is nowhere near as Christian as the USA… indeed I’d suggest it is among the most secular cultures that exist. Furthermore, Australians don’t have the same sense that Americans have traditionally had, of fighting for their freedoms. Indeed, freedom has been squelched from Australian culture, from its inception. Today the absence of freedoms continues… gun ownership is strictly regulated, free speech exists in name only (so long as it does not become “inconvenient”), voting is compulsory, Australia does not have a bill of rights, regulation piled upon regulation, and so on and so on. Superficially, from the perspective of logos, Australian culture seems very similar to American culture. But in reality the two cultures are universes apart.

Integral to understand all cultures is imitation. Imitation manifests itself along a gradient, from rabid groupthink through to unity of higher purpose. A lot of people condemn America for rabid groupthink, but most of them don’t know what they’re talking about. Sure, groupthink plays a significant role in American culture, most evident at the extremes, like the NPC progressives and fascistic “anti-fascists” (Antifa). But until one explores the deepest nuances of what groupthink really implies, most people don’t have a clue, because they are speaking from within the cocoon of their own groupthink (Buddhists talk about “seeing the world from their own level”). Or to put it another way… you cannot rely on the dysfunctional narratives of a broken culture to explain Broken Culture.

Now for the crux of the point that I want to make. Why has Christianity been so important to American culture? I’m not a Christian, and I find the anthropocentric god of the Judeo-Christian religions “problematic”. Nonetheless, Christianity has provided a vital positive force in both Renaissance Europe and the founding of America. What was Christianity’s secret?

Communism and other religions do indeed talk about a higher purpose. As do other aggregations of society. Social obligation is fairly standard in almost any culture. But it generally expresses itself in the context of groupthink and the need to belong. Christianity is different, because it synthesizes a kind of individualism with higher purpose. The notion of Christian love enters the narrative. The courage to sacrifice for what you believe in. Does Hinduism do this? Maybe. But its historical context is different. Buddhism? Buddhism is more secular, less individualistic, and constrained by filial piety, though they still are inspired by love of truth. Could Hinduism (or even Buddhism) rise up as a religion of an advanced future? Maybe. Watch this space. Islam not. The European renaissance was inspired by something different. If some Middle-Eastern cultures have shown signs of advancement, as they have on occasion, that’s because they’ve piggybacked on Christian-European influences.

Bottom line… this all revolves around the problem of groupthink. Yes, other systems talk of higher purpose and social obligation. But Christianity synthesizes its higher purpose with individualism and the love of truth. I think that this is the distinction between Christianity/Hinduism and the rest. The individualism that has within it the cure for groupthink. Groupthink is the disease you get when imitation (knowing how to be) turns pathological. Christianity’s individualistic Jesus introduced a very different template for knowing how to be. Ultimately, this relates to the distinction between the cowardice of groupthink and the courage of higher purpose.

Groupthink is a very real problem. A large part of what we are witnessing in the messy politics of today is the battle between the groupthink of gullible progressivism versus the conservatism that has only recently begun to see through progressivism’s masquerade of moral superiority. Groupthink needs an antidote, and for Renaissance Europe and New-World America, Christianity met that need.

You don’t have to believe in Christianity, as I don’t, to respect that of all the movements and religions that exist today (with arguable exceptions among Eastern religions, eg, Hinduism), it is perhaps the single religion most aligned with life for a higher purpose. Life for a higher purpose is the antithesis of cowardly, approval-seeking groupthink. Courageous individualism based on moral foundations is a treasure that is missing in groupthink cultures. Directness, freedom, being intimidated by neither mobs nor fools. Never timid or shying from responsibility. Not unlike Jesus Christ.

Higher purpose? Some people might use the god-word, and we can respect them for that, given that all that anyone ever has are assumptions (guesses). But I’m happy, for the time-being, just sticking with my best guess of a living, interconnected universe… it’s all the higher purpose that I need.


Some interesting points you make, steljarkos, and interesting questions you ask, such as “why has Christianity been so important to American culture?” I was reminded of one of Ken’s comments in Part 1 of the Gun Violence discussion, that what is presently needed to address the pervasive lack of meaning and purpose for individuals and the culture as a whole is a “culturally-accepted meaning system that can be embraced,like it was at the amber-mythic stage of development.” Christianity was a part of that amber-mythic stage in the western world, and while I would not deny that it was a vital force in the founding of America, I think you do have to consider other elements of that amber stage to have a fuller picture of all the forces at work in the founding.

Ethnocentrism, for instance, has to be considered, both its “positive” side (aiding in people bonding/uniting as an “us” and cooperating and empathizing with one another) and its “negative” side (wherever there’s a well-defined tightly-bonded “us,” there’s a “them”). Many people would argue that the love of the Christian colonists and settlers found its limit when faced with the Indian “them.” And that the Christian love of truth was a love for, well, the Christian idea of truth (talk about groupthink!), not the idea of (spiritual) truth of any other “them.”

Are you familiar with the doctrine of “manifest destiny,” a belief in 19th century America (U.S.) that the settlers were “destined” to expand across North America? This was a Christian-political concept that crystallized and had its heyday between 1812 and 1860, in which it said, based on the virtue of the American (white) people, their mission was to expand American territory through conquest and that it was their destiny under God to do this work. This resulted in not only the war with a comparatively feeble Mexico and other battles/conflicts, but the relatively wholesale occupation and annexation of Native American land and the removal of Indians from their homelands to reservations (not to mention the genocide, that small thing). Forgive me if I question the notion of Christian love in the early colonists and settlers–yes, love for their idea of God and for the in-group, but it had its limits. (The Manifest Destiny doctrine, I should point out, was not subscribed to by all; Democrats advanced it but the Whigs contested it, seeing the moral mission as not one of conquest, but of setting an example. In the end, it met with failure because further territorial expansion would require more black slaves, and the case for abolition was starting to take hold.)

But you are right in that Christianity has been a force to be reckoned with, has been a powerful influence in many ways. So many reasons for that that I can’t begin to address here. But, along with the beginnings of Christianity, there was also during this amber-mythic period the arising of the Eastern traditions, Hinduism and Buddhism for example, and that is my sense of how Wilber meant his statement that what is needed now is a meaning system that would be embraced so fully and by so many as the new religions were during that time.

And just one other thing. I do find much that is beautiful in Christianity and in the figure Jesus Christ, who I agree with you, certainly seemed highly individualistic. But much of Christianity in the world today is still pre-rational, mythic, ethnocentric (as are components of other traditions as well), and ethnocentrism, in my opinion, is almost synonymous with groupthink.


Yes, along with the Christian crusades, and the criticisms that you raise about Christianity. These criticisms relate to the anthropocentrism of the Judeo-Christian religions. Christianity’s (anthropocentric) human exceptionalism is, I believe, the source of the problems that you describe. The message in anthropocentrism… if humans are so special (man made in God’s image and all that), it thus follows that some human stereotypes (ethnicities) must be more special (god-like) than others. “My Christian truth is the one and only truth” is indeed a form of groupthink.

However, I strongly object to the readiness with which people default to the “natives good, Christianity bad” narrative. Native people were often violent, cruel and destructive, and often extremely so… indeed, peaceful, harmonious tribes & societies were the exception, not the rule. It is only by virtue of their low numbers that they’ve never been as destructive as western cultures have. It is misleading to play into the natives-good-westerners-bad narrative. It’s not just false, but because it is a lie, it is harmful. Douglas Murray (The Madness of Crowds) describes the weaponisation of interests. Black lives matter? Sure they do. But so do Asiatic lives, blue lives, middle-eastern lives, native lives… and, of course, white lives. Victim Olympics don’t help anyone. Frauds masquerading their fake moral superiority only serve serve to divide our communities into ever-smaller tribes.

Can we undo the evil wrought by Christianity in the past? What purpose does it serve to ask this question, other than moral posturing? And how might one “balance the books”, given the evil that is routine in other societies? Who has the moral authority to declare who is more evil and who needs fixing? And to what extent are people required to take seriously the hypocritical shaming narratives of anti-white racists who do not, in fact, hold the moral high ground?

Given that I do not disagree, for the most part, with the criticisms that you raise, MY point is to ask the question, what are the most salient aspects of Christianity worth preserving, towards the development of an alternative religion that is consistent with a credible, rational life-science?


Hi steljarkos, I think if you read carefully what I wrote, you will see that I never stated or even implied “natives good, Christianity bad.” I am well aware of the historic violence of indigenous Americans, north and south; I was not arguing for the moral superiority of native people over Christians. What I was doing was bringing the other side of the story you presented to the fore, by pointing out that in their ethnocentrism, the love, higher purpose, and truth of the Christian colonists/settlers was limited; it did not embrace “all of us,” but rather a specific and limited “us.” And that that kind of love, in addition to its in-group worthy acts, can also do some pretty awful damage to those excluded.

I’m also aware of the culture wars and the tribalization of race/gender etc. and ideologies, and it is part and parcel of integralism to analyze and critique all sides in order to present a more-whole story. Of course, all lives matter, and yet, I think we have to be cognizant and respectful of certain facts, one fact being the long-term systemic racism that blacks have experienced.

There is a phrase, “spiritual bypassing,” that you may be familiar with. It refers to the tendency to use spiritual ideas/practices in order to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues or psychological wounds or unfinished developmental tasks. I sometimes think there is also a “humanist bypassing” that occurs in some people, the tendency to use humanism to sidestep or avoid unresolved cultural issues and wounds around race, for instance. So instead of deeply hearing and taking in at deep levels the actual experience of actual humans who have been, indeed, victimized by individual occurrences or systemic racism, “all lives matter” becomes the rallying cry, to the detriment to some extent of any healing or resolution in the culture. As I said, of course all lives matter, and unity-in-diversity is at the top of the list of my values, but I don’t think a true or more whole or fuller and freer humanism can take shape if the real and legitimate concerns of people subjected to racism are devalued or dismissed. In all the radical tribalization and “weaponization of interests” movements, there is still at the core of most of them, I believe, at least a few legitimate concerns.

No, we can’t undo the past “evil.” The purpose that acknowledgment of those “evils” serves is to give us a more-whole story/picture of things.

This is a great question. From my perspective, the fact that the human Jesus not only had a “direct line” to “God” (or whatever term one wants to use), but knew himself as God (“I and the Father are One”) is the most important aspect of Christianity that I would want to see preserved. And that through this direct line and identification, his message of love was shaped.

Ironically, most Christians think it blasphemous for we other humans to believe or identify ourselves as Spirit, God/Goddess, whatever. Yet in both Hinduism and Buddhism, this identification or realization of one’s Self as the “Divine” is mostly what it’s all about. That, to me, is an individualism of paramount importance, and certainly Jesus exemplified this realization. (And yet, it is an ‘individualism’ that in essence includes everyone and everything.)

Finally, just want to say I appreciated hearing your views about Australia, given that you live there.
I learned a few things, for sure.


Six weeks ago I noted that the conversation so far was more integral than most I read on other sites hosting so-called integral discussions.

But listening to the latest dialogue on so-called “integral solutions” I found myself squirming and yelling at the screen at the myriad of instances of assertions and opinions that fell far short of integral awareness. It occurred to me that one of the reasons for this is that Ken and Corey are in an environment that can admit no “but what about’s” that might help tease out a more integral discussion.

I noticed for instance our boys waxing Boomeritis green on the topic of climate change, essentially saying that disagreement with the prevailing corporate/“progressive” orthodoxy has no place in an integral discussion. How partial is that?

Well, I certainly disagree with the orthodoxy and think integralists cannot be in integral awareness without accounting for differing perspectives on the matter. Unless I have failed my integral studies 1.0, I understand integral awareness to be marked by an embrace of all perspectives.

This cavalier dismissal of other perspectives on climate matters is quite disturbing, as is the casual assertion that because a gun control proposal is popular it is valid. Totally absent from the 8 hours of discussion is acknowledgement of the value of constitutional government as understood by the founders and Lincoln. They made the constitution difficult to amend for a reason, one integralists should find easy to appreciate. Touting a national gun registry run by the federal government without acknowledging the constitutional difficulties such a proposal brings–much less examining the dangers of the idea not only to our liberties as understood in a classically liberal sense, but to the defense of maintaining healthy orange institutions to help bring a majority of us into mature orange–is utterly partial and therefore plays into the aperspectival madness Ken in other venues so accurately skewers.

The attempt at integral discussions without the acknowledgement of one’s own biases and assumptions dooms the dialogue to partiality. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but one should approach labeling these things “integral” with some humility. Corey, at least, admits his political biases.

I’ve examined in greater detail elsewhere the shortcomings I’ve noticed whenever Ken tries to get political. The flaws started long ago with the glib assertion that the left sees problem causation in externalities and the right in internalities. A surface look might support such an statement but it doesn’t withstand any serious scrutiny.

And in these final two segments we get lovely (maybe) ideas that could only actually work if they were born and sustained by people coming from teal. Why would any thinking citizen support a national service proposal, for instance, that would be run by the current political class? That would be, to use a classic Ken word, a nightmare.

In Trump and the Post-Truth World Ken posits as one approach to redressing the collapse of green as the leading edge of evolution some kind of magic leap into teal. But even then he has to note that unlikelihood of this ever happening. No, the collapse of green returns us to orange. That is where the work needs to be done. Ken even notes at one point in this series that paucity of individuals in the Advanced Sector living with a center of gravity in mature orange. This is the challenge. If we love the spiral we turn our considerable creative talents to reforming our social and cultural institutions to support maturing of orange. With the hollowing out of those that we used to depend on by the nihilist narcissism of the postmodernists, I am not sure this will happen without going through significant collapse and starting over.

Hope I’m wrong but when even Ken Wilber doesn’t see it . . .


Once again, one of the most comprehensive and enlightening discussions available on the web on the topics of the day.


I’ve only fired a rifle once, am fairly ambivalent about guns yet I also agree this discussion is spot on.


In light of the unimaginably tragic events in Texas today, I thought it appropriate to resurrect this thread, and point people to the incredible talk Ken and I had about Gun Violence just a couple years ago. Check out the page, both the main discussion and the critical factors (each of which can be expanded for more details and discussion with Ken).

What are we missing in our analysis? What other possible solutions to America’s gun violence problem should we be considering, that was not already covered in my discussion with Ken?


So glad you posted this; I almost did earlier today. Great stuff.

I have a friend in Canada (B.C.) who recently bought a firearm, a process which took 28+ days. He had to take an 8-hour course in order to obtain a gun permit ( applying for the gun permit took about a year, but part of that delay was due to Covid). The course involved both passing a written test and demonstrating safe weapon handling skills to the instructor. Once given a permit, there was a 28-day wait in which background checks were done, including interviews with his family members, friends, neighbors about his overall mental state as they perceived it. He could not just walk into a store and walk out with a gun.

He said that if the course instructor senses a person is not competent enough to have a gun, they can flunk them, refund the $200 fee, and they write and submit a report to the federal firearms center.

He said that known firing of a gun even near a person, not specifically at, or waving a pistol at a neighbor, results in a visit from the RCMP and loss of weapons and one year in jail.

While this might sound like extreme gun regulation to some, most of it sounds pretty sensible to me. I know nothing like this is going to happen in the US, and I also know that with each mass shooting, we risk normalizing that behavior, sort of like “par for the course.” Really derelict.

Mass shootings are rare in Canada, although there was a shooting that killed 22 people in Nova Scotia, which resulted in an assault weapons ban in 2020.


I agree that many of those are sensible policies, and some even have strong majority support among citizens.

I continue to think that when it comes to guns in America, the only way out is through, and we have to find a way to embrace our martial heritage, and work to get our gun-archetype out of the shadow. We have to move beyond fear on one end, and fetishization on the other.

It’s a perfect example of the sort of nation-wide problem that requires federal solutions, in addition to whatever local/state interventions we might need. This problem is not exclusive to any state, it is a dysfunction of our national social holon. But I cannot imagine how we can find the political will to actually do something about it — especially when we do absolutely nothing after watching school children get massacred. If that doesn’t get the political gears moving, nothing will.

I also know that with each mass shooting, we risk normalizing that behavior, sort of like “par for the course.”

I think we’re past the point of “risking” normalization. It’s already happened. I can feel it in my heart, and how hard it is to remain tender in the face of every new tragedy. And we can see it in the numbers — that “strong majority support” I mentioned earlier? It’s still there, but has gone down over the last few years.

All of this seems to be so much more than a “gun issue” to me, which is why so few proposed gun laws or restrictions would actually prevent (in the short run) random acts of insanity/evil such as we saw in Texas today, and in Sandy Hook 10 years ago. It is a society-wide, four-quadrant sickness, in my opinion. And until we find a new way to enfold our governance and allow new ways for our society to self-organize, I’m not sure we know how to treat the patient without making her even more sick.


I know you think that, and while I’ve come a long ways in the last couple of years, particularly since this Gun Violence marathon conversation, and maybe I’ll get there yet, but I still disagree with the “embrace of our martial heritage.” Throwing stones and spears and tomahawks are also a part of this country’s martial heritage; shall we go back to that too? I’m being sarcastic, but you know, while I see the fetishization of guns, I really don’t see all the fear. Even some of the staunchest gun control advocates own guns. Who do you see having so much fear of guns? To me, the other end of the pole is not fear but a realistic regard for guns. (Edit: not the other end of the pole, I suppose that would be indifference; realistic regard being the goal.)

I actually agree. And I also agree it is more than a “gun issue.” But I haven’t given up on some potential solutions or movement in a useful direction. It may come through another kind of “parental rights” action. Like the parents suing the school where the boy shooter was known to be potentially a threat. Or parents suing a gun manufacturer. While the latter example is focused on guns, the first one is not: they’re making the case that the youth’s mental health problems were known to school officials, who did not act appropriately to address those issues or remove the boy in the name of prevention/safety. That kind of focus will maybe get people paying closer attention to mental status, but of course, our mh system is not all that competent, in my opinion, to address such issues, other than through meds. So you’re right–not a lot of answers right now. Such a bummer.


Awesome, we can dig into it a bit more!

Throwing stones and spears and tomahawks are also a part of this country’s martial heritage; shall we go back to that too?

Made me laugh. I mean, yeah, in a way we should! That is, not “go back” to it, but recontact it, re-embrace it, re-integrate it, to whatever extent those things are sitting in our shadow.

And by our “martial heritage”, I don’t mean to say we should replicate some previous militarized identity we once had. What I mean is that the idea of the gun as a symbol of individualism, and even equality, is encoded into the fabric of the American mythology itself. All the triumphs and tragedies of America’s founding were found at the end of a gun. It’s our origin story. We freed the slaves with guns. We saved the world from Hitler with guns. There’s a kind of warriorship in the American Tantra that I think we’ve allowed to sink into the shadows — and that same warriorship can get us back out of the shadows.

while I see the fetishization of guns, I really don’t see all the fear. Even some of the staunchest gun control advocates own guns. Who do you see having so much fear of guns?

Oh I think there is a definitely a reactionary segment among us (and probably also within us) that simply want to ban guns entirely, to push them out of society. We see it, for example, in calls to ban scary-looking long guns, while the majority of gun deaths are with handguns. Not to mention the overall background radiation of fear that we feel every time we hear about today’s massacre du jour. And I think there are many on the left who have a general aversion or even contempt for guns, and for people who own guns — it was interesting living in Boulder, because I often saw this sort of clash of cultures. I still remember an article from many years ago in the Boulder Weekly, where the author was talking about going to a firing range to use a gun for the first time, and how absolutely disgusted and terrified and anxious she was. And when she did it, she was overwhelmed by the feeling of power it gave her to pull the trigger, and the fear of power that came after. It was a pretty awesome article, actually, like she was doing shadow work in public :slight_smile:

To me, the other end of the pole is not fear but a realistic regard for guns.

To me, that’s the middle :slight_smile: Right now I think we have pathological eros (fetishization) and pathological phobos (fear, aversion, avoidance). A “realistic regard” for guns, I think, requires both healthy eros (appreciation for symbolic, historic, and practical value) and healthy phobos (respect for dangers and possible consequences of the weapon).

And the thing is — I think all this is kinda unique to America! We have a particular history, with a particular mythology, with a particular attitude and philosophy. IOW, YMMV.

Absolutely agree. Our mental health system is an absolute disaster, both in terms of our institutions, as well as our overall public mental health. Worse, it’s a disaster that many/most of us cannot see, in ourselves or in others, until it’s too late. And if we actually want to solve our gun violence problem, we need to solve a lot of other problems simultaneously. At the very least:

  • mental health systems (which will help with random mass shootings, as well as suicides, which continue to represent the majority of gun deaths)
  • economic systems (poverty being the primary cause of gang-related gun deaths)
  • education systems
  • justice systems

And of course, we can’t do any of that unless we first fix our political systems. All while climate change is right over our shoulders. Yikes.

But you know what? I’m still optimistic. I wouldn’t be able to do this work if I wasn’t! This nation — hell, this species — is a sleeping giant. It takes a lot to wake us up, usually some serious pain. But when we do, we take some very large steps. :slight_smile:

The asteroid couldn’t stop us either. It just gave us wings!


You took so long, I got a lot of chores done. But the wait was worth it.

Re-contact, re-embrace, re-integrate the “thing” or the energy/state that might motivate or is channeled through use of the thing? I can be a warrior without a tomahawk.

See, I think we have a different idea of America, and its origins. You seem to place it in time and date it from the Revolution; I place it in time too and can date it from there, but more so, I place it in earlier time, and even more so than that, I place it in space and note what was originally filling the land, the “American” part of the earth. And those original people placed more emphasis on the collective than individualism.

Yes, I get that. I’ve fired guns, bang bang.

I have a great respect for warriorship, but I do draw from other cultures to define it, and some of those cultures, such as the Samurai and some American Indian, disclose that a warrior’s power is in or made available from his peace, or stillness, and some mastery with the subtle energy body. I know this is not the American Way, but I do think an exchange of values East-West, Ancient-Now, is useful for greater integrity and wholeness, whether of an individual or a nation.

Yes, agree with you. I edited that statement in my post before you posted this one. Where I think fear comes in strongly is that it is a factor in and for the people who do fetishize guns. I’ve actually known a few of them, one who had his own home armory, so to speak.

I agree that we need to solve numerous problems simultaneously; that’s a good list you made. I’m optimistic too these days, hopeful of “large steps,” but more than that, just a sense that even if it isn’t okay, it will be okay. We are all more than these bodies.

I took a long time too. A thought-provoking subject.


I have a great respect for warriorship, but I do draw from other cultures to define it, and some of those cultures, such as the Samurai and some American Indian, disclose that a warrior’s power is in or made available from his peace, or stillness, and some mastery with the subtle energy body. I know this is not the American Way, but I do think an exchange of values East-West, Ancient-Now, is useful for greater integrity and wholeness, whether of an individual or a nation.

This is an interesting podcast on the subtle body of war


Greatly enjoying this conversation LaWanna :slight_smile:

It’s interesting — I have a heuristic I often use, particularly when talking about many Americans’ spiritual paths. Basically, I see a general flow that takes us from:

exoteric spirituality (the myths and dogmas we learn from the predominant religion of our childhood)

which leads us to…

exotic spirituality (finding paths from other lineages that we resonate with)

which leads us to…

esoteric spirituality (the hidden Tootsie-Roll-Center of the Tootsie Pop within all religions, the spiritual states of consciousness upon which all spiritual paths were originally founded)

which then leads us to…

coming home (recognizing the esoteric in our own childhood traditions, allowing us to recontact and re-embrace many of the myths and archetypes we’ve been enculturated to from an early age)

This general path — from exoteric to exotic to esoteric to “coming home” — in many ways describes my own relationship with Christianity. But I think it also describes my own path of warriorship.

Like you, I’ve typically been turned on by the warrior codes from “exotic” cultures, which led me to a sense of renewed esoteric warriorship, which then allowed me to re-embrace my own American warrior heritage and pull at least some of it out of the shadow (and for me, there has been so, so much shadow there). And I notice that the things that I absolutely love about, say, the Bushido tradition, are often things that have not yet had a chance to fully take root here. I very much want American warriorship to mature enough to produce a new ethical code, something like a samurai code for the American Tantra.

All of which is to say, the view I currently inhabit did not come easily, and it wasn’t always a comfortable position for me to take. It required a fair amount of introspection, shadow work, social conscience, etc., alongside what I hope is a fairly realistic assessment of the American psyche. It feels like a toothpaste problem — there is already way too much of it outside the tube, and I think it’ll be next to impossible to push it back in. So, my gut and heart and head tell me, the only way out is through.

The second Amendment is deeply encoded into our governing constitution, and I believe within our overall cultural constitution as well. So deeply encoded, in fact, that it is was included as Amendment #2, right after the whole “free speech” thing. Knowing how central it has been to our founding documents, and therefore to our social self-organization since the nation was founded, means (to me) that we very much need to accept the role guns have played and continue to play in our cultural sense-making, and work to achieve the sort “realistic regard” we were talking about earlier.

Which is one of the reasons I support crazy big ideas like a mandatory Peace-Corp like service for young people, which can teach all citizens how to both use and respect firearms, while also putting them in service of something much greater than themselves (the national social holon, in this case).

Re-contact, re-embrace, re-integrate the “thing” or the energy/state that might motivate or is channeled through use of the thing? I can be a warrior without a tomahawk.

I say, both! The artifact is also a tremendously powerful archetype, and I think that things like Wilderness Training can be incredibly liberating and healing for many people – particularly young people who are dealing with difficult life conditions that is causing them to behave in problematic ways.

One of my overall theories as to why kids these days are more anxious, more depressed, and more suicidal than ever, is because we are launching them into Orange self-authoring stages within a Green deconstructed environment, without first providing a solid Amber foundation for them. I remain convinced that this sort of ungrounded and unmoored “self-authoring” is responsible for the majority of ailments and insecurities of our time, and perhaps a new kind of American Warriorship can help provide that foundation for the rest of our growth.

Plus, it’s the only realistic path forward I can see, in terms of finding solutions that can ultimately be selected for by the political left and the political right.

Just my own .02!


Yes, I’m enjoying it too, and can trace within myself the same general path from exoteric to home that you mention, certainly regarding spirituality. Mostly, and dare I say this, it all feels pretty integrated in me now; and of course, I could be fooling myself. The Christianity I grew up with in childhood was of the fundamentalist kind, Pentecostal, very ecstatic. Both the tantric and shamanic paths of my adulthood are also ecstatic traditions. Witnessing people speaking in tongues in church as a child is not that very different from some shamanic activities I’ve witnessed, or experienced myself. Jesus Christ answers my prayers (or not) as well as any Shaivite or Shakta deity, and has shown me “miracles and wonders” like any of the shamanic helpers I might engage with. I’m as comfortable holding a cross in my hands as I am a crystal, as comfortable singing a gospel as I am an old native song in its language. As comfortable, but I do have my unique preferences.

Thanks for sharing everything you have about how you came to your views around warriorship, and I appreciate the basic axiom that the only way out is through. I also appreciate pragmatics, and respect this very particular moment we as a society find ourselves in.

I find myself at this particular moment of conversing about these things with a heavy and sad heart; it does sometimes slip up on me, the depth of feeling I’ve had and do have about certain things. I cannot accept the American story that excludes the history of this land, this continent, this country, prior to its becoming the constitutional republic of the US of A. Nor do I rest easy with the idea of embracing our martial heritage, although as I say, maybe I’ll get there. I am not against the 2nd Amendment, and yet, it is 2nd, not the 1st, the first being the one which gets closer to the core of things, I think–the desire for freedom, from religious persecution and from bondage to the ruling class of royalty and wealth and all that implies. (Are guns helping with those desires today? Will they in some near dystopian future?)

And yet in actualizing that desire for freedom, there was not much attention paid to how the freedom of others, including religious and speech freedom, was being usurped, nor to how other people were placed in bondage to a new ruling class in the New Land. This is not applying today’s moral standards to that time period; it is simply recognizing the double standards and hypocrisy (and violence) that have been a part of life since the dawning probably, and are still a part of life today.

The gun was one mechanism that helped with this achievement, certainly, for good and ill, triumph and tragedy as you say. My lack of enthusiasm for embracing this heritage is partly due to a sense that the “ill and tragedy” piece of it is still somewhat in the shadows, that the gun as archetype with “symbolic, historical, and practical value” as applied to its use against native people is underrealized, lacks adequate acknowledgement.

And at this point, I find myself needing to say, yes, there has been TREMENDOUS progress in this area, as there has been with racism in general. And NO, I am not romanticizing Indians; I know the history of violence within and between tribes, and I also have known many “rotten” Indians, people I did not like. And YES, I understand this is where we’ve been, where we’re at in evolution. And NO, many native people today do not want to carry the baggage of tragedy and historic victimness. And YES, many people today do make everything about race, and that’s not good. But just as with the history of slavery, I don’t think this country has yet embraced enough of history’s truths, and maybe I am placed here in this world and at this site purposely to keep ringing that bell a little. Just a little; I certainly don’t want to be chiming in on it all the time, or making it “my issue.”

But the other reason for the heavy heart I was experiencing some minutes ago: humanity has a heritage of being killers, period (and also birthers and creators and goodness, etc.). And yes, things have certainly improved since the beginning, and yes, there is sometimes a need to kill for defense whether self or national defense or defense of democracy against autocracy, etc. I get all that. I get that violence and killing are a part of life, still. I get that we’re doing less of it.

What I don’t particularly like is how we shrink from conversing about this subject and using the stark language except in the most heinous situations. I thought when Obama used the kill-word about Osama bin Laden that that was a startling moment, and one that could have been a good cultural opportunity to open a conversation about humans as killers. (And yes, of course we’re more than killers, but you get my point, I hope.) It just seems we sometimes are on automatic pilot with “the way things are” and don’t take time to reflect on our own species’ habits and tendencies or samskaras and such, and to do so might be a worthy experiment for humans.

Enough of all of that, yes, I’m okay, “hurts more, bothers me less,” all that jazz. Truth.

Just for fun, I did wonder about other heritages we might embrace. How about our sea-faring heritage? That’s how everyone came here from the Old Country, before there were planes, trains, and automobiles. Or how about horse heritage, so important in the founding, helped people travel longer distances more quickly, helped with farming, helped armies. And how about the Iron Horse, the trains that definitely were a part of spreading everything from the good word to the good (and bad) people across this nation. The technologies of transport do evolve, making travel easier. Weapons evolve too, including guns, making killing easier. Rat-a-tat-tat, my machine gun. Just having some fun :slightly_smiling_face:

I think your creativity and insightful ideas about most things are spot-on; you know that I admire your work, you, overall. What would Integral do without you and your “just two cents”? And I think we could keep thinking of other European-American heritages that might see us through this gun violence problem–maybe Cornish hen and plum pudding? A chicken in every pot? Things along that line :slightly_smiling_face:


Just saw this piece; scanned but haven’t read closely. But getting to my point a bit about 1st and 2nd Amendments.


Indeed, the 2nd amendment says “well regulated”, yet some conservatives want to elevate their favorite passage of the US constitution to the highest, most inviolable right to own and carry any weapons, anywhere, anytime. This does get into legal exegesis and jurisprudence. I definitely don’t subscribe to originalism, since that theory of legal hermeneutics can be employed as narrowly or as broadly as a judge might choose in order to arrive at their preferred (politically and ideologically driven) outcome. Neither do I subscribe to the so-called “living constitution” concept, since that seems to be a mere justification for judicial elitism. That used to be quite common several decades ago, but the world has changed since then. I think that the constitution can be interpreted quite broadly and the most reasonable constitutional jurisprudence would be one where the justices have much less say over how it is interpreted and the voters and elected officials of the states and municipalities, and also the federal government to some extent, have power to enact laws and regulations that have popular support. The 2nd amendment could be seen as merely a backstop against excessive regulations, such as laws in some states that could attempt to completely outlaw all forms of firearms. For the most part, I don’t have a problem with voters and elected officials governing themselves. I see judicial backstops as more of a harm than good these days. I know this gets into RvW as well, but the response to that is to vote out the state politicians who want to completely outlaw abortions.


I think the line that stood out for me in that article I linked to is that for the most part, the 1st Amendment is “reflective,” while the 2nd Amendment has become “directive, unyieldingly authoritarian in its governance.” And yet, that “well-regulated” phrase stands out a bit like a sore thumb. As some have pointed out, the 2nd Amendment has indeed been regulated to some extent; people cannot legally and personally/privately arm themselves with canons or bombs, for instance. So it seems there is room there to regulate a few other things.


I’ve actually conversations with people who think that the “well regulated” clause of the 2nd amendment isn’t in reference to arms at all and there should be absolutely no restrictions on arms for private citizens. I even asked one of those Tea Party types one time “do you think the 2nd amendment give you the right to own and carry a shoulder fired anti-aircraft missile launcher?” and they responded “yes”.