Wicked Problems: Gun Violence


Sure, except for those damn internment camps on the border, which feels pretty “Nazi-lite” to many folks!

But I have an idea, let’s throw out the word socialism, and use “socialized programs” instead, like we do for fire departments, police, and the post office. It means the same thing in my head — universally accessible services that are publicly owned and paid for via taxes — but if it makes enfoldment easier, then I am all for it!

Well sure, Nazism was a phenomenon that was specific to Germany, a particular type of fascism. “Socialism” is much more broadly defined. But I agree — both socialism and nationalism took us to some dark places in the 20th century.

Curious — would you consider something like people dying of preventable illnesses due to lack of access to healthcare to be an example of capitalism killing people? There are many who say that global neoliberal capitalism has killed and displaced more people than any other ideology. Not sure I buy it, but I haven’t done the math. I wonder if someone has.

And yeah, I love you too, and I greatly enjoy conversations like these! Not only does it allow me to display my own clearly superior political views (ha!) it also allows me to get to know members like you that much better :slight_smile: Any time you want to chat, I’m game!


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 . . .