"Transcend and include... this is the self-transcending drive of the Kosmos—to go beyond what went before and yet include what went before... to open into the very heart of Spirit-in-action." Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything

"Wouldn't it be wonderful if a group of people somewhere were for something and against nothing?" Ernest Holmes

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Integral Field Trip to Mens' Rights Documentary "Red Pill"

[March 9, 1917] Mainstream feminists will affirm that rigid gender roles hurt men as well as women. So why is "Red Pill," a film about mens' rights, so controversial?

The documentary chronicles the journey of feminist filmmaker Cassie Jaye who sets out to document the Men’s Rights movement, and ends in questioning her own beliefs.  I attended the film this week along with several members of the newly revived DC Integral Meetup.  My sense is that the controversy stems from two sources: the polarization that views any acknowledgment of the "other side" as a loss for "my" side, and Jaye's reliance on atmospherics over tough questions that might have clarified a few key points of contention.

For example, she fails to ask the mens' rights activists (referred to in the film as "MRAs") about apparently blatant misogynistic statements several of them have made. And when the editor of MS. Magazine tells her there is no area in which men are unequally treated, Jaye fails to ask for specifics in regard to this list of MRA issues.
Film maker Cassie Jaye

Legal and political issues

  • Unequal treatment in divorce and child custody, (cited in the film as the top issue that brings men into MRAs)
  • Unbalanced military conscription and assignments, 
  • Disparity in criminal sentencing, 
  • Lack of services or even sympathy for male victims of domestic violence and rape, 
  • Disproportionate funding and research on men's health issues, (e.g., research on breast cancer vs. prostate cancer) 
  • Lack of reproductive rights.  (e.g., a say in whether a pregnancy should be terminated)

Social issues

  • Lower and still dropping rates of educational attainment in recent decades, 
  • Much higher rates  of workplace fatalities and high-risk jobs, 
  • Higher rates of suicide, 
  • Higher rates of violent victimization, 
  • Societal tolerance of misandry, 
  • Uniquely subject to false allegations of rape 

MRA's Goal: A Commission on Men and Boys

The screening March 7 was sponsored by MRA organizations. Its stated intention was creation of a White House Commission on Men and Boys to parallel the Obama-created Commission on Women and Girls.

Audience Reaction

Audience reaction seemed to indicate that at least half the audience were MRAs. A Q&A session that followed was nearly sidetracked by the question of whether a Trump presidency is a good time to promote such a commission. One young man said it was because President Trump understands the social chaos that has come about since legalization of contraceptives and no-fault divorce. (Ouch!) Another wag pointed out that nothing was accomplished by the Commission for Women and Girls, so why should we expect results from a Commission for Men and Boys?

But the discussion also gave voice to attendees seeking to reconcile the two sides, such as these two comments.

"Instead of having a commission for women and a commission for men, let's have one commission that seeks redress for all victims."

 "Let's not wait for a government commission. Let's each one mentor young persons of both genders to know that all paths are open to them." 

The Integral Perspective

In brief reactions traded after the show, my Integral buddies seemed agreed that Mens' and Womens' issues are not mutually exclusive, but rather tied to each other in several polarities. I wished I could have asked the young Trump supporter if he would like to explore ways to help both men and women move to a new level.

Another point about language struck several of us. A woman at the end of the film points out that the term "patriarchy" connotes that men are the problem, while "feminism" connotes that women are the good guys. Integralist Susan Bellchamber said, "I'll never again use 'patriarchy' to summarize the problem."

Perhaps we need only refer instead to "gender assumptions enforced by law and partial awareness."  Or, maybe we need something catchier. What do you think?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Stumped by Trump? Ken Wilber says evolution calls us to reach out and regroup

"The one thing that was true of Donald Trump—more than any other single characteristic that defined him (more than his sexism, more than his racism, more than his xenophobia)—is that every word out of his mouth was anti-green."

Ken Wilber in Trump and a Post-Truth World

The postmodern "green" level of value development hits a wall of re-energized ethnocentrism. Its best move is to regroup and integrate levels it has marginalized so that evolution can move forward.

"No Truth, No Jobs" (and no respect)
[ED: This article uses the shorthand color names for developmental levels identified in Spiral Dynamics and other developmental schema. "Green" is the postmodern level of pluralism, relativism, and universalism.]

In the paper "Trump and a Post-Truth World," Wilber says green has forfeited its rightful leadership of the culture and must step back to recapture it. He cites two prime causes of Trump's widespread support. First, the over-reach in applying the partial truth that ALL truth is relative,* and second, the loss of jobs in the information economy.   But both of these, he says, are exacerbated by the judgments made against those with different values.

"What green was teaching this culture, by example, were sophisticated ways to despise (and deconstruct) those who disagreed with you—they aren’t just wrong, they are the source of every major force of oppression, injustice, slavery, and worse." 

Wilber quotes African-American Jeremy Flood (cofounder of At the Margins), in “The Revolution Must Be Felt.”  "If our own class-ism prevents us from caring about the emotional needs of those we derided as deplorable, we are not really progressives," Flood says. We are not ‘stronger together’ when half of us are ‘deplorable.’”

The cure, Wilber says, is "to reach out and compassionately include those with other values in the ongoing national dialogue and ongoing cultural normative development."  And this, he concludes, will probably mean  renewed respect for free speech and some compromise in small business regulation to create jobs.  

Personally, I'm thinking to set up a table in my neighborhood just outside DC with a sign that says, "Welcome Deplorables. I hear you. Let's talk."

My imaginary sign: "Welcome Deplorables."

Read the full 90 page paper by Ken Wilber for an analysis of the twin fallacies that hold green back: Trump and a Post-Truth World.


* The relative aspects of truth are an essential contribution of postmodernism. But Wilber says they have been stretched too far in three respects.

  • "It’s true that all knowledge is context-bound (but some contexts are universal, and thus some knowledge is, too);
  • and it’s true that all knowledge is constructed (but it is co-constructed with subsisting intrinsic factors in the actual world, and thus is not just a “fabrication”);
  • and it’s true that no perspective is privileged (which actually means that the more perspectives that you include, the more adequate and more accurate your map becomes). "
His contextualizing of these ideas is one of the things I love best about Integral theory. They make it safe again to be excited about Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.