Today, we wind around through faces on the bathroom floor, the invisible forces of evolution, the natural crises created in a “post-truth” world and our consciously facing the scary “elephant in the room”.

Sounds like once again we will be discussing Donald Trump. Sorry.

This morning as I contemplated the world from the safe confines of my inner sanctum bathroom, I stared down at the floor from my place upon the throne. Although I had been in this position many times before, I had never noted that one of the truly random patterns in the floor tile could be construed as a human face.

I was surprised that I had never noticed this before. After all, it has long been shown that we humans are hardwired to see faces within random patterns. Whether it’s the face of Jesus in a piece of burnt toast or the profile of an old man on my bathroom floor, something within us organizes disorganized external patterns into faces.

Why do we do this? Most psychologists believe that our human evolution favored an inclination towards seeing faces so that after our birth we would direct our attention towards our mother, the source of our food. Makes sense. There is probably other evolutionary advantages to our identifying faces in our environment – some faces might be potential threats to avoid while other faces might represent potential mates with whom we might want to reproduce more little humans and keep things going.

No matter what the reason, the reality is that this silent force is always at play in the background, directing our attention, quietly altering our behavior – all in the cause of furthering our evolution. The larger reality is that we dance our lives within many evolutionary forces. Some may be hardwired within our physical structure. Others may be directing us from a more external and grander vantage point, impacting humans collectively. Hold that thought.

Recently, one of my favorite philosophers, Ken Wilber, wrote a short e-book looking at the natural evolutionary forces at play in America’s election of Donald Trump. The book is entitled Trump and a Post-Truth World – an Evolutionary Self Correction. The title tells where he’s going. You can download a free copy yourself at this website.

However, let me take a moment and oversimplify and summarize the key points from his article that are relevant here (adding a few descriptors of my own and a bit of background to hopefully provide clarity to some of the concepts):

As I have written about many times here on Conscious Bridge, humans have a mostly silent and invisible worldview that sits in the background of our consciousness and quietly both directs our attention towards what we see and our interpretation of that world. (Just like seeing faces in the floor only more encompassing.)

These worldviews serve an evolutionary purpose, assisting us in navigating through our current life conditions, making us a “better fit” for what we may be facing. As we master our current world, evolution calls forth within us a new worldview to assist us along with new and emerging outer conditions.

Certain social scientists such as Clare Graves, Don Beck (Spiral Dynamics) and others have shown that humans generally evolve through a common sequence of these worldviews. However in modern life, many people live side-by-side in countries and cultures holding different viewpoints – looking at the world through a totally different lens — we may live close to each other, but we are living in different worlds with different perceived conditions and not even recognizing it. (For ease in discussion, Spiral Dynamics and Wilber have given color descriptors as a shorthand for the various worldviews….red, blue/amber, orange, green, etc.)

Human evolutionary history has continuously shown the emergence of new worldviews and that there is generally one that is always at our “leading edge” furthering our growth into even higher viewpoints and still further world situations.

Although many Americans live with a traditional (blue/amber) viewpoint and a modern (orange) viewpoint, since the 1960s our leading-edge worldview has been an egalitarian cultural creative (green) one. Green has been our leading-edge.  Green should be allowing us to master the world it finds and leading us into the emergence of even higher levels.

However, each worldview has both its healthy expression as well as an unhealthy expression. Even though this green worldview has given humanity many gifts, Wilber sees that the unhealthy expression of this worldview has created a sort of blockage in our evolution towards the even higher worldviews that would better serve humanity at this point in our unfoldment.

The next stages of human development (according to these models and the evidence from individuals who have transcended to a degree the “green” level) include a worldview that recognizes and integrates the gifts of all of the previous worldviews.  These “integral” levels recognize the arc of evolution, the different worldviews and the tools that allow them to be used to their fullest advantage for our collective growth.

Unfortunately (but naturally), the combination of the competition of desires of individuals at the currently predominant different worldviews (seeing the world and what is needed all differently) along with evolution’s desire to continue our advancement and overcome this unhealthy blockage have worked together to create a crisis – a breakdown so as to create an evolutionary breakthrough.

Ultimately, our outward experiences of the election of Trump and our current wrestling with the issue of agreeing upon “what is true” are all indicative of this breakdown. The bottom line is that this crisis is a sort of evolutionary course correction which will ultimately serve us in time.

Now, I encourage you to read the full Wilber article as I obviously left out a great deal. I did want you to hopefully sense that behind-the-scenes, evolutionary forces – just like the ones that led me to seeing the face on my bathroom floor – may be potentially at play here…and playing in a way that will truly serve us and where we are collectively going even if it doesn’t look like it now.

Stepping back and seeing our current worldly conditions from a larger vantage point and a longer timeframe – one that incorporates evolutionary forces and the patterns of human history – can give one both hope, perspective and wisdom.

Yet I must stop and stress this point: None of this means that we should not take appropriate action to push back on those political actions that we see are not in our best interest for a positive future. There are plenty of things going on out there politically that many of us feel called to stand up and both voice our concerns and point us towards a better path. I encourage you to stay informed and to get involved were you so feel called.

Yes, we may be called to political action but we may want to look at one more issue here.  This is the generally unspoken “elephant in the room” about this moment in our country.  This point is best described in this recent article by political commentator Andrew Sullivan.  Here is an extended (but important) quote from his article from New York Magazine’s website:

“Then there is the obvious question of the president’s mental and psychological health. I know we’re not supposed to bring this up — but it is staring us brutally in the face. I keep asking myself this simple question: If you came across someone in your everyday life who repeatedly said fantastically and demonstrably untrue things, what would you think of him? If you showed up at a neighbor’s, say, and your host showed you his newly painted living room, which was a deep blue, and then insisted repeatedly — manically — that it was a lovely shade of scarlet, what would your reaction be? If he then dragged out a member of his family and insisted she repeat this obvious untruth in front of you, how would you respond? If the next time you dropped by, he was still raving about his gorgeous new red walls, what would you think? Here’s what I’d think: This man is off his rocker. He’s deranged; he’s bizarrely living in an alternative universe; he’s delusional. If he kept this up, at some point you’d excuse yourself and edge slowly out of the room and the house and never return. You’d warn your other neighbors. You’d keep your distance. If you saw him, you’d be polite but keep your distance.”

Although I don’t want to believe that “our President” has mental issues, when I read these words of Sullivan’s, I cannot help but nod in agreement.  If the actions of Trump were the actions of someone else in my life, would I not be concerned over their mental health?

So why do I bring this up?  To bring it into the light of our awareness.   If we don’t look at our underlying concerns, we may not appropriately deal with our real issues.

Sullivan goes on to say, ” I think this is a fundamental reason why so many of us have been so unsettled, anxious, and near panic these past few months. It is not so much this president’s agenda. That always changes from administration to administration.”

Yes, if you are a progressive, the new administration’s agenda is of obvious concern.  Yet, we have gone through previous administration changes to conservative agendas without the degree of “near panic” that is currently being expressed.  There is obviously something different this time.

So what are we to do with all of this?

First, I would call us to higher and greater levels of awareness around our individual lives and our greater world.  Things that we experience and our judgments of those things may involve factors that are not obvious initially.  We must continuously be open to seeing things freshly, from different directions and not becoming stuck in our basic assumptions about life.

Secondly, I would call us to remember that there is great evidence that we are living in an evolving universe and that the ultimate arc of evolution is to greater levels of complexity, higher consciousness and a recognition of humanity’s role in the process of our unfoldment.  Yes, life may continue to include the evolutionary forces of competition and “survival of the fittest”, but life also includes a pull to transcend our old ways of being and to bring forth the emergence of something greater.

Third, I would call us to recognize that the pull towards the emerging of something greater for humanity includes both a call for personal action, to be force for good….yet to act with concern for the direction of humanity with appropriate boundaries and protections but also with greater levels of care and concern, with love, for others even if they are different from us.

Finally, is Andrew Sullivan correct in his assessment?  I don’t know. But if he is, then should I not be called to work towards appropriate boundaries and protections for the good of our country and the world?  Should my heart not open to protect the weak and the vulnerable who may be harmed by selfish and “crazy” actions that only serve the needs of the few?  Should I not set appropriate walls and borders to protect myself from someone who might cause me and my country harm while also ensuring that my country does not erect inappropriate walls and borders designed to “protect” us from the imaginary dangers created within a mind immersed within an “alternate universe”?

The arc of evolution may ever be upward but that never lessens our individual role as someone awake and aware to do all that we can to assist us in moving in that direction.

Mark Gilbert

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Photo credit: Jonathan Michael Peel via Foter.com / CC BY-SA