What Is Happening in Our Nation Is a Societal Regression and It Will Not Improve Until We Calm Down and Think Clearly
Going forward, I believe the most important thing that can happen in our society is for the emotional temperature to go down. Not because I believe we can’t take the heat, but because I truly believe that humans do their best thinking when their instincts and emotions are quiet. The brain just gets more energy to do a hard task like thinking things through carefully.
For the past few decades in this nation, we’ve been a period of slow societal regression with rising tension and polarization between opposing groups. Those who study human evolution and human nature have been observing these dynamics and predicted many decades ago that this exact mayhem would be happening during our time. (See: Murray Bowen and Ken Wilber)
Integration and unity is the only way forward during a time of high polarization. And integration and unity — at this period in history — requires a high level of complexity and critical reasoning, which can only be done if we are calm and our collective frontal cortexes have the resources they need to do the work.
For the past few years, we’ve had leadership in this country (right and left) appealing to the lower nature of human beings. To the side of us that’s fearful, insecure, self-protective, and violent. We all have a lower nature, to be sure. Every human being does, no matter what side we lean toward. We are all vulnerable to that lower nature and susceptible to influence that targets it.
In that sense, leadership matters.
Leadership matters most for its ability to appeal to our higher nature instead of our lower nature. It matters for its ability to help calm the instincts and emotions that drive us to believe we are in a struggle for our survival. It matters to help settle the part of us that puts us up against each other and drives the perceived struggle for survival to become a war. The unifying force is important. The calming force is important.
This is not just at the presidential level. This type of leadership happens in our families, friendships, social circles, communities, and especially with ourselves. It is a time for self-leadership right now, too. It is a time to calm ourselves and access our higher natures.
Our ability to empathize, to be thoughtful and respectful, to unify across the divide, to come into contact with our own humanity and that of others.
Even if the other side is not doing so, we must lead the charge for ourselves and our communities if nothing else.
To remember that there are human beings — susceptible and excitable human beings — on the other side of our position. Human beings that have struggles, fears, families and hopes for their own future.
Human beings who have a lower nature and a potentially higher nature. Human beings whose fears and insecurities have been poked at and their lower nature exploited by certain individuals for their own self-interest.
Nobody is a victim, to be sure. That is absolutely not what I’m saying here. I’m simply illuminating a dynamic between two seemingly opposing sides. A dynamic that’s largely driven by our lower nature, puts us deeper into survival mode, and drives us to seek shelter in those who promise to make it feel better.
If we can think our way through understanding that, instead of reacting instinctually and emotionally to the other side’s instincts and emotions, we will all be better off in the long run.
We must center ourselves so that we can think better and do better in the long run, because work has only begun.
A large part of the work is the ability to find each other again. To access the core humanity in each of us. To understand the deeper processes and forces that drive us. To recognize that they’re all the same.
Stay calm. Stay focused. Stay wise.