They say there are just two kinds of people in the world, those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don’t.

As a case in point, the world can be divided into two groups of people: those who see the world as divided neatly into Us vs. Them (Either/Or) – and those who do not.

Those in the camp who do not see the world as Us vs. Them instead see a whole spectrum of information, wisdom, knowledge, and power that comes from the perspective of Both/And.

More specifically, international crises caused by Greece, the banking industry, and BP Oil (to name just a few) have shown us two elemental forces are at work, each represented by its own camp of “true believers.”

Each of these two camps is fueled by a deeper guide/pilot. In Our Culture On the Couch: Seven Steps to Global Healing , I have referred to the side that sees only differentiation, opposites, fragmentation, prejudice, conflict and dis-integration as Violence (with a capital V), and the other side, the one that sees and favors unification, similarities, wholeness, tolerance, cooperation and integration as Love (with a capital L).

The epic struggle between these two elemental forces can be seen everywhere, from the Monsanto brouhaha and the oil spill tragedy in the Gulf ( see the spill superimposed on your city , to that between Israel and the Arab world, to that between the Far Left and the Far Right in our country.

The Far Right tells us this is a world of great danger, that we need to be stern, and to use deadly force and extreme rendition in order to get what we, the “In Crowd,” want, no matter how extravagant, how wasteful, how unfair and unequal. The Far Left often threatens to be foolishly naïve, economically irrespsonsible, tolerant of civil chaos, and would politically empower people in the underclasses, minorities, and welfare queens.

Each has its power base and wages war on the other. The confrontations are often violent, even at the highest levels of government, religion, business and media. (here RFK Jr. speaks to the death of democracy at the hands of media)

This Struggle Is Within Each of Us As Well

We can easily see these forces at war on the global stage, but if we look within, we discover the same conflict within each of us.

This then, is a philosophical struggle, a war of basic beliefs as to the nature of the world. Most of us fail to see the struggle within ourselves, because we have been hypnotized by the media to think that someone else is to blame – that the problem is out there. We have been trained to believe we are helpless as individuals. We have been so brainwashed that we do not even see that we have the ability to change the belief that we are helpless.

Our beliefs are behaviors, just like our thoughts and our emotions. And the truth is if we want to, we can change our beliefs. We don’t have to continue to believe and act according to some outside authority that is telling us to believe and do things that go against the common good. We don’t have to believe that it is OK to be a racist, sexist, and/or a religious bigot. We don’t have to suppress, torture, or even kill those who  have been labeled “Other.”

We can – if we want to – approach others with respect, acknowledgement and willingness to look for mutual values. Moreover, we can work together toward common goals and visions.

In one side of our hearts, we find a distinct set of emotions that are arousing, negative and intense in valence – anxiety, fear, greed, anger – in short, Violence. In this worldview, we see the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual violence that fills our news reports from locally and around the world. This serves to reinforce the Either/Or core belief.

On the other side of our hearts, if we look within, we see the world through the Both/And perspective that always seeks to open the door to the possibility of tolerance, acceptance and respect. This door leads to the ability to create peace, balance, a profound sense of oneness, and even Love.

The only kind of peace present in the Either/Or paradigm is the temporary calm between wars, arguments and conflicts.  True peace is only achievable when we embrace the Both/And paradigm (which, somewhat paradoxically includes Either/Or). Peace will only happen when we, in my nomenclature, embrace Love (as I have defined it in my book).

Models

Interestingly, those individuals who model this attitude and perspective of Love are those individuals who have devoted some part of their time to meditation, contemplation and more enlightened thought.

They include current-day teachers and masters as well as those we know through the sacred teachings of the major religions – Moses, Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna and others. (Of course, I am careful to point out the dramatic difference between their lifestyles and their words – and reject the distortions promulgated by so many of the religious cults that have disgraced and betrayed their prophets).

It’s the System, Stupid

Unfortunately, it appears that most of the world is choosing to ignore or misinterpret these teachings. Everywhere we see lies and polarization, abuse and Violence. We keep looking for that person or group to blame, but we always fail. This is because the illness we want to cure is systemic – the bad guy is not a person, but the System as a whole – the Matrix.

The shenanigans that took place when we tried to find the cause of the BP oil spill provided a demonstration that would have been laughable, if it were not being played out in terms of the human and environmental suffering the spill is creating in towns along the Gulf Coast. First we are told that 5,000 gallons per day are leaking out. Then a week later that it is actually 10, 000 gallons, then 20,000, and now 60,000 per day!

And who is at fault? BP said it was not their fault, because they had hired the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and crew, and it was they who screwed up. Deepwater in turn said it was Halliburton that was last working on sealing the well when it blew.

The Republicans say it was Obama’s fault for not being “on the job.” The Democrats say it was the result of Bush Cheney & Co. and their cozy relationship with the oil companies. And defying all logic, Rush Limbaugh blames the environmentalists . Meanwhile, the environmentalists blame us all for the expensive, energy intensive lifestyle we are living.

While finger-pointing and blaming are the staple of the Either/Or Us. vs. Them faction, the reality is that we are all to blame because we are all part of the System.

Partisan Wrangling

Do people really think they are helping anyone but themselves and their special interest group by perpetuating partisan wrangling?

We see the truth. All that saber rattling and foot dragging is just the floor show designed to keep us hypnotized and distracted while the treasury is looted and the middle class is liquidated to the profit of the few and the misery of the many.

Do they think we are blind to the Violence induced by the behaviors of our supposed leaders? How much clearer an example do we need?

One of the clearest examples is the series of events that have culminated in death threats and bricks being thrown through the windows of Congressional Representatives and Senators. Politicians, talk show hosts and insurance company executives may not personally chuck the bricks and make the threatening phone calls, but they are a vital part of the system that is responsible. Yet we seem incapable of seeing this or doing anything about this systemic problem.

History provides an excellent teaching moment. In 1170, Thomas Beckett, archbishop of Canterbury, was murdered by four of King Henry’s knights. Beckett had been in ideological conflict with Henry II, whose frustration reached a climax when he yelled out in fury, “Who will free me from this turbulent priest?”

The knights answered him by their action. Clearly, Henry II never struck a blow or thrust a knife, yet it is clear that he was directly responsible.

How then can we conceptualize, and assign blame, when the bricks and death threats follow closely on the heels of a major politician publishing a map on her website with the hometowns of these members of Congress branded with rifle crosshairs, accompanied by a speech exhorting, “Don’t retreat, reload”? Immediately following her implicit call to Violence, there appeared another webpage urging people to toss bricks through their living room windows. ( click here to learn more )

This is a classic example of the systemic problem that arises strictly from the Us vs. Them paradigm we are using – it is systemic, and it seems no one is willing to take responsibility for it. The politician did not throw bricks. The fellow who put up the Facebook page never, himself, threw any bricks. Those individuals who threw the bricks are unknown. A perfect storm. Terrorism without a perpetrator.

These false prophets and false leaders can remain in power only as long as we are willing to let them. We need to find – and become – leaders who can see and seek wholeness and healing. And we must always be wary of those whose primary agenda is based on making us afraid and polarized. We are all in this boat together – and poking holes in our adversaries’ end of the boat will sink us too.

Change Begins Within

As usual, the changes start within. How well are you doing with avoiding unnecessary judgment, criticism, blame and anger – both toward yourself and toward others?

How can you express more Love in how you treat yourself, your environment, and those in your family, community and workplace? What candidates will you support or vote for? Which corporations will you buy products from?

What you learn from your own personal shift to Love will enable you to better recognize those candidates for leadership who are able to step back from the fray and see the system as a whole.

Only when we elect and become those leaders can we bring forth the creativity – and courage – we need to truly solve our national and global problems. We must not only do this for ourselves, but for the generations to follow.


We have been misled, and now it is time to look within, as presented in Awakening the Leader Within . Helpful in this process is the CD program, Abolish Anxiety Now! , because it is through anxiety and the temporary solutions we are offered that we are controlled by the System. we need to let go the anxiety so we can find the courage to face our problems, not deny them. The skills offered on The Serenity Prayer are useful in learning the balance we need to choose well.

What is the matter with the people in this world? Why can’t they see the very obvious truth, that each of us has value, and that what we share in common with each other is so much greater in importance than the ways we happen to differ? With so many people pointing the way, why don’t they listen, and act accordingly?

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve had thoughts like those. Eventually it began to dawn on me – the world has been blinded by the propaganda advanced by their so-called leaders. As a result of this blindness we remain ignorant of truths lying right in front of us. [1]

Obama as Antichrist

The current domestic political situation is instructive. If there was ever a time to diligently search for solutions that will benefit us all, it is now. Who in their right mind would aim us in the direction of confusion and misinformation?

Yet there are a significant number of us who choose to believe that President Obama is a closet Muslim and a Nazi: that he wasn’t born in this country, and that he wants to pass a law mandating “death panels.” But this is just a single example of the nonsensical perspective that is nurtured by a certain segment of the media and then becomes a deep belief of all those who cannot see the distortion. But this is just one example.

Why would anyone aim to cultivate such fantasies and live by them?

Caution, Unseen Hand at Work

Perhaps Maynard Keynes’s “unseen hand” is at work here – the unseen hand of the marketplace. Fact is, there is money to be made by publishing information that distorts the world and creates suspicion, paranoia, fear, and conflict. The unseen hand caused to appear hungry, aggressive whose raison d’être is to specifically cater to those of us who are thus ignorant of the truth. After all, there is money to be made in the business of keeping people ignorant, and since “greed is good”. . .

We have not been taught to respect the truth, and the media generated distortion results in our never having an opportunity to even see the truth. We have been pumped full with propaganda and pap. (By the way, breaking with tradition, when I use the term media I mean to refer to all the communication tools and weapons aimed at us by the world we live in.) Our Information Universe is heavily impacted by media in many forms, ranging from our schoolbooks, with their stories of brave Columbus, and self-sacrificing Custer, all the way to today’s increasingly politically pitched news media.

This carefully manufactured blindness has resulted in our being ignorant of important facts because they are invisible to us.

Waking Up to the Media

I gradually began to recognize how deeply our culture has been twisted by our media. Our history books and prayer books, our newspapers and television have all systematically distorted the truth. Facts have been distorted and so has the mode of reasoning by which these factoids are examined and evaluated.

The problem is that not only has our global information system failed to give us the truth about ourselves and the world we live in, it has also not given us the tools we need in order to see the actual solutions that abound all around us. We desperately need to acquire and employ those tools that will enable us to be be certain that the decisions we are making are wise decisions.

To feel secure in the correctness and wisdom of our decisions we must examine the truth impartially, with freedom from prejudice, with an eye free from longing. We do not want our desire to see things a certain way to influence how we are seeing things. At least not too much. We need to strive to understand the truth, and to see more than merely projection of our prejudiced fantasy onto the current situation.

Any attachment to the past distorts our view of the present to some degree. It can be on other way – our present will always be colored to some degree by the past, at least until we have reached a stable state of enlightenment. Wisdom decrees that we reduce this distortion to the minimum, accept that some distortion remains, and then to take the transformational step of looking beyond the distortion. We must turn to a deeper intuition (the Force?), to enable us to sense what is deeper, and to set our journey by that deeper, inner standard, by the deeper essence of the situation, rather than just the situation itself.


[1] Sometimes we even go so far as to imprison those who would shed light on the world, as with the fate of poor Galileo, and those Joe McCarthy’s hearings abused.

Personal Responsibility and Leadership

We have voted in an historic election, and many are hoping that “happy days are here again,” as the government starts responding to our needs and requests. Well, with such observations as those of famed financier George Soros , it is beginning to look more and more as if our communities, businesses, practices, and families are going to find themselves even more “on their own.”

The “financial downturn” is looking more and more like our economic Katrina – and like the unfortunate victims of that storm, we cannot expect the government to step in and solve all the problems it is creating. After all, our state and federal governments are beyond flat busted, and the money they borrow or print is going to come out of our future earnings – which themselves are looking pretty shaky.

Perhaps there are important lessons we can learn from Katrina. One, of course, is that we cannot depend on the disaster-responsiveness of the government. Another comes to us by way of certain population groups in New Orleans that found ways to deal successfully with the challenges presented during in the aftermath of the hurricane. The tightly-knit French-American communities were able to organize a response; they quickly pulled together and pooled its resources, and looked for ways to support each other. How different from the “every man for himself” reaction that the news media brought us in such quantity.

Just as nations, banks, cities, and towns are going bankrupt , it is all but certain that there will be breakdowns at the level of our local communities. What will happen to your neighborhood and mine will then depend on the quality of the leadership available. And the time for the right kind of leadership is now, not after the levees break.

Because we are a democracy, our government is a reflection of the choices we are making. Thus, each one of us bears a certain responsibility, the responsibility to dedicate an appropriate portion of his or her time to seeing to it that the men and women that we allow to take leadership positions in our governments, businesses, and communities are truly leaders – leaders who really understand the true essence of this new paradigm. It is essential to our survival that we go beyond greenwashed temporary fixes. It is your job and mine to make sure that, instead of going for the “fast, fast, fast symptom relief” as offered by our TV commercials, our elected officials will look to the source of these recurring disasters, and treat the system at this deeper level. If we do not do this, we are not being responsible and playing our proper role in the new Distributed Leadership model that coordinates well with New Paradigm thinking.

The Distributed Leadership Meme
Those who understand the concept of Distributed Leadership and are skilled in its application are best equipped to design a new course of action – one that will reflect our shared interests and deeper unity. The goal is to move us toward (whether or not we ever reach it) an “omega point” of harmony and unitive thinking. This process will make available to us the enormous gifts of our collective intelligence and generate momentum toward wholeness and sustainability – survival and “thrival.”

We are now at a time in which we will experience an unprecedented opportunity to select new leadership in all walks of life – government, business, communities – right down to our individual families. It is clear to nearly everyone that it is time for a change, a change that will be reflected at every level of system, from the individual to the global. Our actual survival, and the sustainability of those aspects of our lives that we treasure most, will depend upon our choosing leaders, local and national, who really understand that if we do not learn from history, history will repeat itself – and each time the price goes up.

The Teachings of History
Consider the cost of the Cold War, the Arab Oil Embargo, the suicide bombing of September 11, and now the Financial Meltdown, whose costs are well into the trillions. And the significance of this amount pales in comparison to the human suffering attendant on those events. We are waking up, and none too soon, to the fact that, there is something deeply flawed about how we have organized the dominant institutions on our planet.

September 11 roused us temporarily from our fool’s paradise of “prosperity.” The 3,000 deaths that resulted from those terrorist attacks were tragic, yet no more tragic than the 3,000 babies that starve to death every day, or die from easily curable disease – or the tens of thousands kidnapped into sexual slavery, to die of AIDS after a decade of unthinkable torture. What was different was that these deaths were white Americans, not black or brown Africans or Asians. Suddenly the U.S. began to wake up to the fact that we could no longer believe ourselves as invulnerable as we had once thought. After all, to Americans, bombings had always been something that happened “over there” and that war was just our favorite way of learning geography.

And, after an all-too-brief moment of unity, we watched dumbfounded, as the sense of global oneness and shared tragedy that had New Yorkers smiling at each other degenerated – and we regressed to our unfortunate mean, reverting once again to our usual game of international whack-a-mole – a strategy that history may show us was exactly the wrong one for the time.

I recall my thoughts at the time of the attacks – “What if this vicious act of mass murder was just another symptom of the misguided behavior of our countries and our cultures – simply more recent symptoms of what brought us slavery, the Holocaust, Hiroshima, Stalin, and the Vietnam War?” I decided upon an interesting thought experiment. I would view these behaviors as symptoms, then try to trace them to their deeper source through the application of careful logic and standard scientific procedure.

The Cosmic Healer

So I set out to perform an Einstein-like thought experiment, examining our world from the imagined point of view of an interplanetary physician – a cosmic do-gooder whose job it is to travel through time and space seeking out intelligent life forms that are struggling, like the human community on our own planet, to realize their potential.

There is no question, this patient is suffering physical illness and great anguish. And we are demonstrably headed towards ever more dysfunction and disease as an unavoidable consequence of the dominant ongoing behaviors, thoughts, passions and beliefs held by its most powerful inhabitants. Shouldn’t I want for my planet the same quality of intelligent, wise health care I insist on for my family: shouldn’t our situation to be examined with the honesty, objectivity, and care that would be employed by a physician treating a patient? So, I set out to perform a careful physical and psychological examination of the human culture on this planet. The result is my new book, Culture on the Couch; Seven Steps to Global Healing .

My explorations revealed convincing evidence that the same paradigm Mind-Body practitioners have found vital in producing healing (identity, balance, and integrity) at the individual level also turns out to facilitate healing at the collective level. If you have experienced real healing or a creative breakthrough in your own life, you understand the honesty, faith, and courage it takes. Indications are that we have reached the point at which we need to muster that same kin
d of confidence, commitment, and integrity in our collective behaviors.

The good news is that, collectively, we have all the wisdom and resources we need, and powerful tools for social networking are emerging right now. Accessing them and using them is a wise and powerful thing to do. Such social technologies as The World Café provide powerful methods for creating inviting space, exploring questions that matter, and connecting diverse people and perspectives. Through listening together for patterns and insights, collective knowledge emerges.

Until now, the system that has controlled the information that has been available to us; it has used anxiety and fear to push us to act in ways that are of much more benefit to the rulers, the wealthy, and the party in power, than to the people themselves. But this system actually belongs to us, and if we are willing to use the tools available to us we can begin to discover the incredible possibilities that open up when you begin to develop and evoke personal responsibility.

When we discover how to become truly responsible for our lives, we can choose how we really want to be and what kind of world we want to live in.