I don't know whether to be glad, or exasperated.
It's amazing how time can just ooze by for me when trying to navigate my way through technology. Gary had taken the boys to the beach, and that's not really my desired way to spend the gift of alone time. But I'm trying to see it as an "investment" that makes my "sacrifice" worthwhile.
I've been thinking about my last post and feeling a little uneasy about it. I love my father, and didn't mean to trash him in public. Nor was I trying to exploit him as a relic. The conversation I reported was emblematic of many with him which leave me feeling disturbed at the underlying conflict that we stop just short of.
And it makes me wonder if it's emblematic of deeper themes than political differences. Underneath the differences lies a deeper split--about how to orient oneself in the world. From what posture do I choose live? I sense that for him the debate becomes personal--it's about more than politics, it's about a way of life.
It seems odd that a posture of deference to authority should so naturally include nationalism.
But then I look at a framework that Ken Wilbur writes about, which in turn he has borrowed from other sources , the theory of Spiral Dynamics. It is a sort of hierarchy of consciousness, and the development of humanity along that hierarchy over time. It was pioneered by Clare Graves, then refined by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan who coined the term. He calls the levels of consciousness "memes". Each level has its own internal system of perspective and social structure. Eight are identified. Level 4 is described:
"Life has meaning, direction, and purpose, with outcomes determined by an all-powerful Other or Order. This righteous Order enforces a code of conduct based on absolutist and unvarying principles of "right" and "wrong". Violating the code or rules has sever, perhaps everlasting repercussions. Following the code yields rewards for the faithful." (pg 9, 10, A Theory of Everything, Ken Wilbur)
Sounds like the meme of nationalism, and religious fundamentalism. Such a meme would be inherently authoritarian, with the goal of maintaining order. A guiding principle would be an ultimate Authority, God, and one's worth determined by how closely aligned they are with this authority. Authority would be delegated hierarchically, from God, to the church, to the leaders of the church (and/or government), to parents. (And in the old days, to man, to wife, to child).
What's interesting is that each of these memes cannot appreciate the existence of others: Each of the first-tier memes thinks that its worldview is the correct or best perspective. It reacts negatively if challenged; it lashes out, using its own tools, whenever it is threatened." (pg 12)
"This is why many arguments are not really a matter of the better objective evidence, but of the subjective level of those arguing. A person who operates from one meme will never be convinced by the arguments at the disposal of a different meme.
Wilbur writes that each level, or wave is "crucially important for the health of the overall Spiral", and development's goal is humanity's "transcending and including" each preceding wave. The 'higher' order includes the lower, the way that molecules contain atoms. It takes a leap into higher order thinking though, to permit this process. He calls the squabbling among the levels as an "autoimmune disease", and until humans can move into higher order thinking we are destined to more violent struggles for supremacy.
This is a context that helps me to understand the underlying heat beneath my father's and my differences. When Bill O'Reilly champions "traditional American values" in his book Culture Warrior he is defending the meme he lives in with my father. He claims these values are under attack by "Secular Progressives". To answer to the claims and accusations of this meme I find I must enter it, and in entering it I'm stripped of my perspective and vocabulary. I'm forced to speak on their terms. I suppose this can account for the sense of helplessness I feel when I do try to engage, the feeling of gasping for air.
George W. Bush appealed directly to people's sense of loyalty to an outer authority. Somehow this authority is aligned with obedience to God and parents, and to the sense that one's own goodness depends on that loyalty and faithfulness.
This was the stuff I breathed growing up. Is there anything comparable to this in England, Canada, Australia, any other nationals reading this (because it would be interesting to go beyond nations that began as England's colonies)? I'm curious what others' bedrock core group identity is based on.