Thursday, December 23, 2010

Transforming our psychological ground

Our work:
Transforming the psychology of accumulation
To the psychology of sensitivity;
The psychology of control and conquest
To the psychology of empathy and compassion.

These are goals that cannot be framed in 12-step programs or 5 year plans. This is not a generation’s issue or a systemic flaw to be fixed with new laws or higher average wages. These are changes that work in evolutionary time, not human time, and our human engagement, if it is to be sustained, must be embedded in, and central to ideologies that have trans-generational endurance. I think specifically here of religious ideologies.

These ideals will come into direct conflict with political and economic desires, where accumulation of power and wealth is the guiding animus, and in which individuals are driven by nothing more than the dictates of self, which require an enemy, a competitor, or lower economic or social classes to motivate action and measure success. Respect and empathy, on the other hand, are values that require, in large measure, effacement of self, or more accurately, a higher sense of self. This is counter to our biological condition. Therefore, many will argue against the very viability of such an ideal, and those that argue for it will be working against a daunting gradient in biology.

However, I would argue that there is a counter-gradient in nature, a spiritual or divine gradient, more subtle than biology, and working on a longer wavelength, such that biology will appear dominant and more efficacious in generational time, but spirit will prevail in evolutionary time.

This is not mere fantasy or romanticism. It is now 2500 years since the Hebrew Prophets first articulated the basis for these ideals, and since then we see that for every cresting of political oppression and predatory economics, consistently and irresistibly there have arisen social, religious, political, and economic forces to counter and overthrow these regimes.

Witness: the re-emergence of Catholic faith in religiously eviscerated Poland, a re-emergence and resurgence strong enough to cast off the yoke of a superpower.

Witness: Marxist ideology, founded on deeply flawed sociological and psychological principles, which was yet able to swell in a single generation to effectively counter unrestrained predatory capitalism. Core principles of Marxism are now integral components of all high-functioning capitalistic systems, including unions and coops, workman’s comp and unemployment compensation, social security and universal health care. (Ironically, we do not yet see a similar, but opposite integration into most communist/Marxist systems, which remain predatory on the individual. However, Kerala state in India may be one of a few emerging counter-examples. Some might also argue that the Scandinavian countries are Marxist states that have successfully integrated capitalism.)

Witness: the emergence of a culturally, economically, and politically vibrant (and militarily powerful) Jewish state in the face of the most profound disaster to the Jewish people since the Roman destruction. Is there another example of such a reversal of fortune in all of history? Note also the rapid migration of anti-Jewish animus from Christian lands to Muslim lands, exposing the temporally local biological cross-currents and backwashes that are trying to counter the aeonic, spiritual tides of a Jewish national identity.

Indeed, I would argue that today the teaching of the Prophets is more well-known and more motivational than at any time in history, and that the force of their words, within and outside of religions, will increasingly shape political and economic systems.

Witness: the success of the American experiment based on prophetic ideals of freedom, justice, and equality, and of the value of the individual. America was founded to counter “divine right” and social and economic entitlement and ossification. The US continues to be a powerful magnet, drawing the best, brightest, and most idealistic from nations around the world, thus enhancing the likelihood of its continuing success. I would argue that America is the first example of a nation constituted on the prophetic ideals derived from the divine wavelengths valuing sensitivity and empathy over accumulation and power. The critical reader, of course, will immediately note how the biological cross-currents and backwashes of accumulation and power have swept across, and are disrupting these spiritual forces.

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