Recently, I heard of a Trump supporter’s declaration that she feels “politically satisfied” for the first time in many years. How can this be? I feel politically horrified. How can it be that there is such a split in perspective? It seems clear that Trump supporters are not seeing the same thing that I’m seeing….They are not seeing the cruelty, the corruption, the lies, and the anti-knowledge stance. All of that either looks different to them, or they don’t see it at all. What is going on here?
The split in the country is so profound that various channelers have maintained that some will ascend and some will be “left behind” or taken to a different environment where the vibration is more suitable for the experiences these folks are dedicated to. That may well be true, in fact I’m not sure that it isn’t happening already, but it’s not so helpful for those of us whose dedication is to wholeness. Besides, the other half is still there; we are not by any means homogenous. How am I to make sense of this, in a way that shows a path to increasing awareness?
I already know, in an intra-personal way, that exiling the parts of myself I don’t like or can’t deal with is more of a problem than a solution. If what I am after is increasing freedom and an abundant ability to love, I can’t go around shoving stuff out of my world because it is discomforting. Somehow, acceptance is the key…but does that mean that I accept whatever is in front of me uncritically? Like cruelty and corruption? That can’t be right, it feels so wrong. It must be time for a spectrum……
I first learned about “spectrum” as an organizing tool in the late 80’s when I was working on my MA degree in Transpersonal Psychology & Counseling. I was locked into a battle with Freud, and I could see that there would be no winning for either of us. If he won, the world would be too small for me to live in, and if I won, I would have failed to understand something important about his contribution (even if it made me grind my teeth). I was saved by Ken Wilber, with his book No Boundary. In it, he was inquiring about how come there were all these different therapies, some of which worked for some people and not for others. He decided that self-identity was the determining factor, that there was in fact a range of therapies that were each ideally suited to specific levels of a spectrum. Your place on the spectrum was determined by your answer to the question “Who am I?” What you accept as you, what you reject as not you. The highest reach of the spectrum was unity consciousness, the lowest reach was persona/shadow. So then I could understand where Freud was, and where I was, and the mismatch was no longer so uncomfortable because there was more room on the spectrum. It all had the effect of introducing me to the idea of “true, but partial.” Freud…true but partial…Yay! Even me….true but partial. Just knowing that there was a spectrum, with room at the top, so to speak, made me very curious about what could come next.
In the present circumstance, I had already been reading some of Wilber’s later books, some of which were more understandable than others. Then I saw that he had written a new slim volume, Trump and a Post-Truth World. Really, it was like my intellectual White Knight had returned to save me from what I could not yet understand, in a way that would take me to the path I was looking for. The gist of his message: Yes, we must accept rather than condemn, but we don’t have to be stupid about it, and it is crucial that we don’t refuse to look….and look with compassion, rather than with condemnation.
He talks about the movement of evolution, the increase in complexity as wholes are transcended and included by larger wholes. As in the increasing complexity of sub-atomic particles to atoms, atoms to molecules, molecules to cells, cells to structures. All of these bits are whole in themselves, but each becomes part of a larger whole, which transcends and enfolds them. This is natural evolution, and it naturally goes on in all realms. When we take this to human evolution, we start with the infant who has the opportunity to evolve through 6 to 8 or more levels of awareness in the course of its human life. There is also the opportunity to get stuck at some level. Of course, Wilber’s scheme is more complex than I’m describing, but I’m hoping that by simplifying, I can get the point across without making your eyes glaze.
The point is, whatever level of awareness you’re at, you can’t see the one above you, it doesn’t exist for you yet. You do not have the mental structures that would allow you to perceive it, much less live from it. The infant cannot perceive “Mother” as a separate being; the young child cannot see another’s perspective…that all comes later, in the normal course of growth. Later, the question becomes “who is part of my world, and who is not?” For some, their world is their family, and who is not part of that family doesn’t count. “Family” is preferred; who is “other” exists to be killed, enslaved, or dominated. At that stage there is no ability to take on the perspective that the whole world counts as family; it just plain doesn’t exist, you can’t see it, feel it or hear it. (If it helps you to see it in an inner sense, what have you done with awareness of the parts of yourself you don’t like, can’t abide?)
There’s quite a bit more in Wilber’s slim Trump volume, but let’s stick with this for the time being.
“Transcend and enfold”…. which means not rejecting the earlier stage, even though one has gone beyond….Organ structures do not, cannot reject cells. Without cells, no organ structures. Without molecules, no cells, no organ structures. But do the molecules value cells? they don’t actually need them. They can go on being molecules if cells never show up. Do the cells value organ structures? They can go on being cells if organ structures never show up. So it’s clearly the higher that can see and appreciate the contribution of the lower, not the other way around.
If you want to see this in human activity terms…a five year old child has no ability to be an adult at five years old. But (in a perfect world) no adult will make the child wrong for not being more than five. In fact, it is the adults who are capable of enjoying the five-ness of their child….if not the parents, then certainly the grandparents. And that loving grandparenting can make quite a difference to the way the child learns to see itself. Maybe it’s the grandparents who can really appreciate the joyfulness and vitality of the child, more easily than the exhausted parents. The child may respond to the loving gaze, but what it can return is not the same thing. So what? We’re not talking about equals here.
And maybe we shouldn’t be talking about equals across the board either. Maybe we’re stuck in a romantic view of equality that has led us to believe that we must treat all people as though there is no difference between them. So we think that everyone is at the same level, and are just choosing to be contrary. Next thing you know, we’re descending to the level of less development, and the country is split in half with hatred.
Maybe we could recognize difference without judgment….otherwise known as discernment…. Maybe we could understand that not all people see the world the same way, but they can only be where they are…. Maybe we could recognize the contribution that the “family as world” folks have made: the safe container that a family could be, providing a space from which to grow. And yes, there are plenty of families that have failed at that, which has affected all members, but that’s where the healing comes in.
We’re going to have to learn how to see the gifts of the levels we came from, and honor those levels, those gifts, so that no one feels left out or unheard. We’re going to have to catch ourselves despising the ones we don’t agree with, and find another way to perceive their value.
This is where the question about Hitler comes in….He was certainly tribal….feeling not only free, but obligated to eliminate who he saw as the enemy….If you were at the same level he was, you would have felt compelled to do the same thing to the enemy of your choice, because that’s what happens at that level. Once you have the ability to be critical of his actions, then you are no longer at the same level. If you can see it, you’re not in it. You can’t see up the evolutionary line, you can only see down from where you are. Then the challenge becomes how to limit the damage from the actions of the less inclusive, while offering compassion to the being who is imprisoned in that smaller awareness. The smaller spaces are more troublesome, more besieged, more limited….less free, less inclusive, with less opportunity to love more.
So the value of Hitler? the value of Trump? So far, my thinking is that both are really extreme examples of what we don’t want, up in front of the world on a huge billboard. As Abraham-Hicks would say, providing contrast, and with luck, a wake-up call. So had we best start thinking about what we do want? Oh yes, and a step beyond that: we need to start living from the bigger space that can see more clearly…not only what is wrong, but also what is right. As organ structures, we’d best learn to love the cells, and molecules, and atoms we are made of. And all the stages of awareness we’ve gone through, on the way to where we are now.
(There are some really important ideas in Wilber’s Trump book, and I’m hoping that some of you are interested in reading it. He makes it as accessible as he can, and in the Note to the Reader, encourages you to ignore what you are not interested in. I imagine that more of his ideas will show up in my thinking and writing, but don’t count on me, go get it for yourself….and then we can talk about it!