Have you ever noticed that when you make a statement about something you believe is true, instead of “Wow, that’s really interesting! Say more”, it’s not uncommon for someone to come back with something that directly contradicts the statement you just made?
For example, you say, “I believe global warming is a serious problem.”
They come back with “I read the other day that scientists are just over reacting. Nobody really knows that global warming hasn’t been happening naturally for millions of years.”
You say, “I believe traditional religions like Christianity have great wisdom embedded in them.”
They come back with “I think the Native American way of being “one” with nature makes a lot more sense than Christianity.”
What you are experiencing is dualistic, either/or thinking. It’s an unconscious thinking process left over from early childhood that is part of our human psyche. It’s called our primitive ego. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for this dualistic, black-and-white way of communicating to escalate into an argument where both parties begin to defend their opinions and beliefs more emotionally. This is especially true in discussions about religion and politics.
We are witnessing this behavior very clearly in Washington these days. We see it in discussions about raising taxes, cutting entitlements; we see it in conversations about gay rights, immigration reform, and how to deal with North Korea and Iran. The list is virtually endless! Each of these examples reflects a primitive ego thinking process that makes compromise all but impossible.
It’s hard to watch the evening news or read the morning paper without the increased blood pressure feeling that our representatives in Washington are too ideologically rigid—–that our country is clearly going down hill and falling apart. For many, it’s hard not to feel discouraged about the future—-not just for our country, but the whole world!
And the discouragement is contagious. Five minutes with the evening news and we want to move to an island in the Caribbean.
It Helps To Understand How Human Cultures Evolve
Evolution isn’t a theory. The universe isn’t evolving. The universe “is” evolution. Change is reality. And “everything” in our universe is in a process of unending change.
Unless we live in a cave without television or internet connection, we know that changes are coming in the way we are polluting our atmosphere, we know that virtually every nation on the planet has been overspending and creating enormous debt, we know that science is challenging many of the fundamental beliefs of our traditional religions, we know that global hunger and human rights are moral issues that need to be addressed, and we know that Washington has to figure out how to embrace compromise.
Not only are these changes coming, we know from experience that the solutions to these challenges are going to change human culture, the way we do business, and the way we live together as a global species. We know in our hearts that these changes are necessary for us to evolve—-to become a more “just” and moral species as we struggle to discover our full potential and find sustainable ways of living together on this small planet.
The discouragement and anxiety so many of us are feeling these days is the result of forgetting how human cultures evolve, and how humanity historically struggles to embrace change. We think growth should be like a tree, slow and orderly—–a logical process of doing what’s right without the need for a lot of argument. Unfortunately, growth is often a messy process—–not unlike that experienced in our own individual growth, growth in our relationships, or growth in our own family.
We forget that, despite statements to the contrary, humans do not like change. Even when it is inevitable and necessary, we still tend to resist change. This is especially true for the primitive ego in each of us.
In other words, the either/or thinking and lack of flexibility that’s so evident in the world today, is not the result of stupidity. It’s not the result of ignorance. It’s not the beginning of the end times. It is simply the way a human culture struggles to evolve whenever it finds itself in the middle of important and fundamental changes in its values—–when it’s confronted by the inevitable changes it needs to embrace as an evolving species.
The Universe Uses An Evolutionary Middlepath Model
The universe offers us a different way of understanding the process of change and growth in human culture—–a more middlepath, evolutionary model that’s been working fine for 13.7 billion years.
In this model, a cultural change in consciousness begins when someone presents what they think is truth and the way things “should” be. Essentially, they make the suggestion that things should change—–the very thing that our human primitive ego hates to do.
This leads to the inevitable dualistic counter arguments that very quickly suggest a very different understanding of how things should “be”, and how things should change.
At this point in the process of cultural change, people take sides. They argue. They debate. They sometimes lose their temper. People on both sides of the issue become inflexible in their beliefs. It’s not uncommon for things to get violent. For example, the free world vs. totalitarian governments, or the threat of Nazi imperialism that led to WWII.
Yet, when we look at human history, we see how evolution has used this messy process to bring about evolutionary change in human culture as far back as we have written records. After all the debate and messiness is over, when all of the emotional energy has been expressed, after all of the despair and the challenges to our “hope for the future”——we “see” that something amazing has happened!
The process has somehow opened a portal that reveals a path into the future that combines the strengths and wisdom from both sides of the debate, and has somehow subtracted the pathologies or extremes of each position———a middlepath portal human culture can use to move to the next stage of human consciousness——the transformation to a more evolved human culture.
The middlepath reflects a deeper wisdom in which we begin to collectively and intuitively “know” the way forward. It not only embraces the wisdom found on both sides of the dualistic process, it contains an upward transformation in the values we use to define who we are as a culture.
It can take time for the middlepath portal to open, and the way forward to become clear, but paradoxically, the moment it does, some one or some group will immediately offer a counter argument as to why the new path is not the right way to go——-and the process will begin all over again.
That’s how our infinitely evolving universe creates new forms.
The important insight this evolutionary model of change in human consciousness reveals to us—— is the knowledge that it requires all of our voices; all of our input. The wisdom of the middlepath is not the wisdom of a few individual voices, it is the product of our collective voices coming from both sides of every issue…..from both sides of the middlepath.
When we understand this middlepath, evolutionary model, it changes the way we “see” what the world is struggling with more clearly today. We begin to “see” the process that human culture uses to embrace change isn’t hopeless; it is a process that actually gives birth to hope! It is how we humans do the business of moving into the future! And when the changes are big and fundamental like they are at this moment in human history, it can get very messy indeed!
Washington will figure it out. Everything changes. Everything evolves. They will too.