Current Events and Personal Development

Peggy Noonan, once a speech writer for Reagan and a conservative and Catholic, wrote an editorial ( about the crisis in the Catholic Church which was forwarded to me.  In it she argues that the presence of women in leadership roles in the Church would have prevented pedophilia from occurring.

While women in the higher ranks would have undoubtedly made a huge difference toward reducing the crisis in her Church, Wilber’s levels of development indicate that anyone of any gender will tend to support their present level of development and its institutions.  We see that in women supporting genital mutilation in Africa, women supporting the Third Reich in Germany, and in women socialists, communists, lawyers, and CEO’s.

The underlying issue behind the crisis of the Catholic Church, from an integral standpoint, is the level of consciousness of a group.  Whatever it is, it tends to self-perpetuate.  This is particularly true at the early personal stage, when group identity IS personal identity and personal identity IS group identity.  So whatever group or groups you identify with at this level of development, their perpetuation is equivalent to your perpetuation, whether it is church, company, ethnic group, gender, family, or nation.  So the solution isn’t more women in leadership, although it is greatly needed for many reasons; it’s figuring out how to raise the developmental level of individuals, groups, and cultures. That’s point number one.

The second point is broader.  What I see when I try to get an overview of the news: the crisis of faith with the Catholic church, the crisis with trust in financial institutions now being highlighted with Goldman-Sachs’ civil and criminal charges, and with the environmental crisis going on in the gulf, is a historic swing brought about not by ideology but by upwelling events, toward more regulation, accountability, and transparency of all institutions, businesses, and individuals in places of power.  While there is and will continue to be major warfare about how much regulation is too much, there is no doubt that the pendulum is swinging back in the other direction after about a thirty year experiment in testing the limits of lassiz-faire everything.

People and institutions and governments have conclusively demonstrated that they cannot be consistently trusted to respect and act for the common good when their personal interests lie elsewhere, whether it is nationalism, maximizing profits, or spreading their ideology.

No doubt many individuals, organizations, and businesses will be unfairly hurt by this swing toward more regulation.  It is the classical conflict between the good of the many and the rights of individuals which we in the U.S. often equate to the debate between Jefferson and Hamilton. There is no one right answer, and every instance has its own uneasy stasis or balance point between these two extremes.  But for better or for worse, there is no doubt that the pendulum is swinging globally toward increased accountability, transparency, and regulation.  From my perspective, it’s about thirty years overdue.  Why has it taken so long?

No one likes to do much upstream prevention.  It’s not a priority, it interferes with more pressing concerns, and it costs time, money, and resources.   It seems that we have to have environmental, social, and personal calamities in order to put into place the mechanisms necessary to prevent disaster.  But if the crisis is big enough, it is too late, and the environment, the body politic, or the individual dies.

How does this issue of regulation and prevention look from the inside out?  On a personal level, we are dealing on the one hand with our trust in our own judgment, which is based on a lifetime of experience, and on the other, with our need to listen to our broader interests, whether represented by spirit, a spiritual teacher, or our own intrasocial community, as we do when we interview self-aspects with Integral Deep Listening.  Both perspectives are vital.  Regarding the first, out trust in our own judgment, there is a reason spirit evolved frontal lobes.  The importance of executive decision making by our individual waking identities cannot be overstated, and to passively allow life to decide for us risks becoming a slave to our addictions and to our social scripting. We run on inertia, refusing to take the risks necessary to evolve.

On the other hand, if the decision making of our waking identity is all we listen to, our self-governance becomes an autocracy, a dictatorship.  The good of the many (our many self-aspects that are not given voice by our waking identity) is repressed in favor of the the immediacy of our thoughts and feelings.  The result is a lack of internal consensus in decision making, leading to worsening internal conflict, which manifests eventually as broken relationships, failure to achieve our potentials, accidents, and illness.

We have to really dig into current events to get to this level of analysis, but I think this is where the gold is:  when we work at and find a functional balance between the good of the internal many and our waking concerns we are more likely to manifest that balance in our relationships with others and with our environment.  The point is that the nature of your inner work determines both your perspective and your level of development and therefore the choices that are available to you in how you deal with both your personal problems and those of the world.

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