The big news this past week has been the extended shutdown of the US Federal government. Like most Americans, I’ve been disappointed in the actions of our elected officials. And, like most Americans (based on recent survey data), I don’t believe that the funding of our government should be linked to the funding of the Affordable Care Act.

There’s a church near my home that put up a billboard that says “pray for our government”. Not a bad idea. In fact, at our Centers for Spiritual Living office that’s just what staff did the other day. Of course, our prayer was not asking an external God to intervene in the affairs of our government. Instead, we were affirming in our own consciousness that the greatest and highest good would come out of these events. I know that to be the truth even if it may be hard to see in the moment.

Although I don’t agree with the Tea Party’s actions in forcing the creation of this artificial crisis, I’m not writing this to bash them. I respect them for their passion, but disagree with them on their position regarding the Affordable Care Act and their tactics around the budget. I recognize that the dysfunction we are experiencing in this event has deeper roots. Fundamentally, the root cause relates to our consciousness and our thoughts about life.

Each of us walks around with a mental construct about how life and the world work. This worldview we carry within us invisibly causes us to make assumptions about underlying truths. Life is too busy for us to stop and question our assumptions – but we would be well served if we did it a bit more than we typically do.

I’ve written frequently about worldviews and the evolution of our consciousness through a distinct sequence of outlooks (both in our individual lives as well as historically for all of humanity). The Spiral Dynamics model is one I frequently cite (search that term on the Conscious Bridge website and you will find numerous articles about it). No doubt that we might easily consider here that this “crisis” is tied to two competing worldviews – the Tea Party representing a more traditional viewpoint (blue meme) at odds with the cultural creative progressives (green meme). One viewpoint seeks to keep the status quo and believes that everyone should be individually responsible for themselves while the other viewpoint stresses our commonality and that each human should be offered equal access to basic human rights. It’s easy to see how these two viewpoints might disagree on the need to make available universal healthcare coverage.

A recent book by Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer entitled Leading from the Emerging Future – from Ego-System to Eco-System Economies paints a similar picture regarding human evolution. Although their book is not about worldviews but rather about our economic systems, their description of our path from being egocentric to world centric parallels the levels described in Spiral Dynamics as well as the levels of consciousness described by philosopher Ken Wilber. They all describe a path where we move from seeing the world as a collection of independent objects to one where we realize that everything is interconnected and interdependent.

Scharmer and Kaufer see the various crises out on planet earth as a symptom of a deeper issue. They equate it to the tip of an iceberg. We sense and debate the visible tip (the symptoms) without considering the massive invisible level (the real causes) below the surface. They encourage us to go deeper – and when we do, we push beyond the external symptoms and find that the root cause of our issues lies within our consciousness. They call us (and offer practical guidance on ways) to open our minds, our hearts and our will – to see life fresh – and to question assumptions.

As I read their book, I couldn’t help but think about similar messages that I wrote about in my book (Be Yourself Evolving the World through Personal Empowerment). The basic points of my volume were that these various external crises were evidence of our being at a choice point – and that we could move towards a better future if we focused on how we were alike, focused on a common vision for that future and brought our passion into our work by living our calling (thus being more in service and “other oriented”).

A common relevant point from both books is that we need to shift our consciousness to solve the problems facing humanity. I feel almost obligated to insert here the well-known Einstein quote, “you cannot solve a problem from the same consciousness that created it. You must learn to see the world a new.”

So what new thought should we introduce into the equation of our political polarization and the current government shutdown? How must we see the world new in this situation?

I have a few “new thoughts” in response to that question:

First, we need to let go of any blame of the “other”, let go of trying to make them “wrong” and us “right”. This ego-based “winning” and “losing” is old thinking that comes from our “animalistic” past where our primarily concern was “survival”. All of our political leaders need to put aside their differences and the past. We need to collectively “turn the other cheek” towards any disagreements we may have had…..and as our heads turn in the process, we can look in a different direction….towards our future.

Secondly, as we gaze towards the future of our country, another “new thought” would be to focus upon what kind of country do we want to live in as a collective people? Yes, we can honor our past and the ideas of our founding fathers….but we should not be bound by the past….rather, we should see our role to take that vision and to expand it to higher levels of possibilities for our country. We should discuss that future with one another so as to paint a vivid picture of that possible future. Our description should be one that serves to provide opportunities for all —no exceptions. America should once again be the shining example to the world of what is possible when people come together in the “land of opportunity”.

Thirdly, we should work together to create that world. Our “eyes should remain on the prize” of creating a country where no one has to “survive” but rather has the equal opportunity to “thrive”. Competition has served our past, but the new thought of the future is one where we cooperate for the greatest good for all. In doing so, we must realize that everything and all of us are connected. As such, we need to create solutions and that future what meets the needs of everyone.

I know that when we’re mired in our polarized debates that to consider us to shift our thoughts in such a manner sounds very “Pollyanna -ish” – totally unrealistic. Maybe, maybe not. If enough of us seek change – voice our desire for our political system and our country to walk a higher road – then maybe our politicians will follow. To offer another famous quote….this time from Margaret Mead….” Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

So what is your new thought? And, what are you going to do with it?

Mark Gilbert

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Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!