Green Halloween is for adults, too

I start the podcast by observing that in post-modern (green altitude) subcultures like Boulder, Halloween is as much a holiday for adults as it is for kids. I tell of walking downtown where I saw a woman in an oversized witch’s hat walking a black pug that was wearing a set of shiny black bat wings. At first glance there was no sense that this was a dog in a costume; he looked like a little fat flying creature. People on the sidewalk were laughing, pointing and joking with the woman and each other. It was great street life.

This experience is indicative of what happens as we move into green, postmodern consciousness: as adults we want to express ourselves and be seen in our own mature uniqueness. We want to be able to be a little bit bad. We want to turn towards our shadow material (the parts of ourselves we can’t see and don’t know) and explore it in a way that is safe and fruitful. Halloween is a great excuse to do all of this publicly.

As evolutionaries it’s also interesting to remember that in humanity’s earlier stages of development (all stages prior to modernity) evil spirits are real. This is true for individuals as well as for cultures at large. I have a friend who grew up in Thailand and lived as an adult for many years in the U.S. She tells me that when she goes back to Thailand she always closes the curtains at night because she was raised to believe that evil spirits look in at you from outside.  She’s surprised at how real this feeling is when she is in Thailand, but when she’s in the West she’s a perfectly modern woman and it doesn’t make any difference.

One of the projects of modernity is to wring magic (seen as superstition) out of the system. One of the projects of integral consciousness is to re-enchant our lives by consciously reintegrating the magical stages of our own development. We get back in touch with our own magical childhood. We feel into the spirit-filled world of our early ancestors. As we begin to perceive that Spirit — even spirits — by whatever name are still here, we can relate to them in a way that does not poo-poo or deny them just because they are invisible to science (much of reality is), but we also relate to them in a way that is not limited or gripped by them.

So, yes…in the sacred world to come adults dress up for Halloween!

Ebola Jumps the shark

The second leading story is about one of the nurses who was infected with Ebola in the Dallas hospital by the man who arrived there from Liberia. On Monday she was certified as cured and released from the hospital.

In other words, people, it’s been a slow news week. Both of these stories have been dutifully hyped by the media. In fact, Fox News ran the second story with the headline: Dallas Nurse Infected with Ebola Discharged from Hospital, which misrepresents the actual point of the story — she is no longer infected! — by 180 degrees. Of course, the headline serves both Fox’s modernist corporate agenda, which is to keep viewers emotionally hooked and tuned in for advertisers, and also its traditionalist conservative agenda, which is to create a general sense of national chaos and incompetence that benefits the out-of-power party.

But the hysteria is not just the right side of the political spectrum; Bill Maher is also wailing from the left, though at a different target. Visibly upset on his show Real Time, he said, “I’m not panicked. I’m pissed at the morons at the hospital in Dallas. In Texas, they hate regulation. They love their freedom, so they couldn’t be bothered to notice that this guy had Ebola.”

Even Joe Scarborough on MSNBC, normally a pretty centrist, occasionally integral guy, was all worked up. He delivered a lengthy screed about how Americans are scared and disappointed, how they’ve been let down by the Center for Disease Control and all the experts in charge, and how they’ve lost confidence in the president and his ability to protect us.

As I listen I’m amazed that people actually expect things to work well. It’s a characteristic of first tier altitudes of consciousness that they expect the world to operate according to the ideology of their altitude. If it would, they believe, everything would be alright. If it’s not, then something, and someone, is wrong and to be blamed.

This is true in our individual lives as well. We all know it in our deep hearts that our life isn’t really working according to plan. We sort of muddle our way through if we’re lucky. To the degree that we cannot own this reality we project it onto the people who we think are in charge of us: our parents, spouse, boss, politicians and, of course, the alpha Rorschach is the President of the United States.

I think one of the challenges of developing a post-ideological integral consciousness is to become more friendly with the truth of chaotic emergence, without becoming complacent and missing the lessons of failure.

Anyway trust me, the next time we have a true national emergency, a 9/11, a dirty bomb or a truly out-of-control epidemic, we’re going to look back with a certain nostalgia to the week where the lead stories were about these two nurses.

In the second half of the call I share some thoughts about a few stories that continue to illuminate how in the developed world (orange/green altitude) cultures are engaged in the relentless project to become more secure and sensitized. After long, bloody millennia we’re now free from the wars and plagues that have haunted humanity from our beginnings, and we’re turning our attention to the violence that has heretofore been hidden — in our homes, schools and various subcultures.

Three examples and their evolutionary upshots:

  • Pro football star Ray Rice was caught on video in an elevator punching his then-girlfriend (now wife) Janay Palmer, knocking her out and dragging her into the hallway.  Evolutionary upshot: they’re staying together and have become born again, baptized Christians. They vow to maintain their family and rebuild their lives together. This is an ideal evolutionary move and when it works, the chaos and brutality of the warrior altitude is civilized into the rules, vows and faith of amber traditionalism.
  • Adrian Peterson, also an NFL star, is arrested for child abuse for hitting his 4-year-old son on the butt with a switch, breaking the skin. Evolutionary upshot:  He puts out a statement in which he says, “I want everyone to understand how sorry I feel about the hurt I brought to my child.” He goes on to say, “Deep in my heart, I have always believed I could have been one of those kids that was lost in the streets without the discipline instilled in me by my parents and other relatives. I’ve always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man. I love my son and I will continue to become a better parent and learn from any mistakes I have made.”
  • Sayreville War Memorial High School in New Jersey has cancelled its football season, and several senior players are in jeopardy of being prosecuted as sex offenders for hazing younger players. An investigation by the New York Times resulted in a two-page story that revealed that at worst there was some non-consensual grab-ass through football pants. Evolutionary Upshot: Are we witnessing an over-reaction here? Probably so, and I hope justice is not served too harshly. But the positive message is clear: physical boundaries must be respected by all people in all times and circumstances.

After reading these three stories another question arises: jeez, what it is it about football? Football is an expression of a red warrior culture that is embedded in a more safe and civilized amber/orange system. On the field we have a sort of war (with rules instead of chaos) that attracts young warrior men. It’s a world of deep brotherhood, which is a delicious and powerful state that is achieved when warriors bond. Hazing and initiation rites are time-honored strategies for forging a unit of fighting warriors.

The Sayreville Bombers

The Sayreville Bombers

Initiation is also central to the process of building effective military teams, which are also warrior units. I remember reading a beautiful essay written by a U.S. marine about his experience going through the notoriously tough Marine Corp boot camp. He wrote that at some point in the midst of the physical, mental and emotional stress he realized that it wasn’t about how much he could take from his fellows, it was about how much he could give: how much heart, how much disintegration of ego, how much transmutation of individual identity into group identity he could bring to his new band of brothers who he was going to count on to die for him and he for them.

So we need to keep this in mind as we civilize young people who are appropriately going through red, warrior stages of development, male and female.

I end by pointing out that the California state senate unanimously approved a “yes means yes” law requiring “affirmative consent” from both parties for sex to be considered consensual. I see a lot of eye-rolling among people who think this is political feminism going too far, but…is it really so ridiculous to raise the bar to the level of mutual consent? It’s not like any of this is going to slow people down from having sex. In fact, by making things safe we make them safe to explore.  Same goes with grab-ass: as long as I am in no danger of having it thrust upon me, if you’ll pardon the expression, I may just decide to give it a try.

For most of human history the strong simply subjugated the weak. Women were sexual prey (which is why they are shrouded in certain red tribal cultures to this day), children were subject to their elders, and stronger men dominated weaker men. From an evolutionary perspective brutality and dominance maximizes human potential…until we realize that the way forward is to respect each other and cooperate.

So welcome to the future, an ever more safe and humane world where we are ever freer to express ourselves and receive each other.

I hope you enjoy the podcast!