A Challenge To Frank Visser

apple-and-orangeI enjoyed reading Frank Visser’s reply in “What Would Wilber Do?” to my earlier post called “Properly Integral: A Response To Frank Visser’s Three Disappointments”, after I got over a bit of frustration at having my arguments characterized to make me look as ridiculous as possible. It’s all a fair part of the blogging game and done in good fun.

Visser begins by once again bemoaning the lack of engagement with criticism he sees with critics by the integral community and especially by Ken Wilber, citing the example of Jeff Meyerhoff’s book. Since I have previously discussed this issue and note that he didn’t specifically reply to my points regarding Ken’s many responses to critics, willingness to change, and so forth, I am tempted to move on. He continues to repeat the canard that Wilber doesn’t engage with critics regardless of how many times this is pointed out to be incorrect in so many ways, the ways that really count.

There are other responses in Visser’s article which I am not going to take on directly because I think the answers suggest themselves to the discerning reader. To respond would only take the discussion in the direction of “Didn’t Wilber say a few inaccurate things over the course of more than twenty books, and why doesn’t this bother you as much as it bothers me and should bother everyone?” and “Doesn’t the fact that I’m subscribed to a bunch of opt-in E-mail lists that I personally joined prove that Integral thought is, in fact, overly marketed in the whole wide culture throughout all media markets everywhere in the world?” and “Doesn’t the fact that Wilber once wrote that Spirit offers a ‘spiritual explanation’ mean exactly that he thinks it is actually a ‘scientific explanation as these signifiers are understood by the orange vMEME’ too, and therefore his philosophy as a whole is bunk?”

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Don Beck: The Road To A Sustainable Planet Goes Through A Value Systems Perspective

By Joe Perez

Speaking in the Netherlands recently, Dr. Don Beck makes the case for a complex, adaptive intelligences approach to sustainability issues. In his presentation, “Sustainable Cultures, Sustainable Planet: A Values System Perspective on Constructive Dialogue and Cooperative Action”, there is a plea to understand the codes and dynamics that shape cultures and drive change.

Although he may not be breaking new ground for listeners with intimate knowledge of the Spiral Dynamics model of human development, he clearly sets forth a key narrative in understanding culture, writing:

Cultures, as well as countries, are formed by the emergence of value systems (social stages) in response to life conditions. Such complex adaptive intelligences form the glue that bonds a group together, defines who they are as a people, and reflects the place on the planet they inhabit. These cultural waves, much like the Russian dolls (a doll embedded within a doll embedded within a doll), have formed, over time, into unique mixtures and blends of instructional and survival codes, myths of origin, artistic forms, life styles, and senses of community. While they are all legitimate expressions of the human experience, they are not “equal” in their capacities to deal with complex problems in society.

Yet, the detectable social stages within cultures are not Calvinistic scripts that lock us into choices against our will. Nor are they inevitable steps on a predetermined staircase, or magically appearing like crop circle structures in our collective psyche. Cultures should not be seen as rigid types, having permanent traits. Instead, they are core adaptive intelligences that ebb and flow, progress and regress, with the capacity to lay on new levels of complexity (value systems) when conditions warrant. Much like an onion, they form layers on layers on layers. There is no final state, no ultimate destination, and no utopian paradise. Each stage is but a prelude to the next, then the next, then the next.

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Fisking Andrew Sullivan’s “Imagine Newt’s Finger On The Button.”

Andrew Sullivan

I have a love / hate relationship with Andrew Sullivan. I read his blog daily and enjoy almost everything he says more than any other political pundit, but sometimes his blindness is just too annoying to stay silent about.

From my perspective, he so often pays attention to all the right things, but he often draws conclusions that are frustratingly askew. For example, today on The Dish, he comments on Newt Gingrich’s foreign policy, writing:

Larison dissects Gingrich’s foreign policy:

Many Republicans flatter Gingrich by treating him as one of the party’s intellectuals, but Gingrich frequently shows that he is unable or unwilling to make crucial distinctions in his treatment of international problems. He complains on his campaign website that “we currently view Iraq, Afghanistan, and the many other danger spots of the globe as if they are isolated, independent situations,” and that America “lacks a unified grand strategy for defeating radical Islamism.” But these conflicts are largely separate from one another, and there is no such thing as a monolithic, global, radical Islamism that can be addressed by one strategy. No conflicts around the world can be properly understood except by focusing on local circumstances, but for Gingrich, the ideological emphasis on a unified global threat takes priority over proper analysis.

Which makes him the perfect antithesis of conservatism. Conservatism is concerned with reality, which it understands shifts with culture, history, region and all the immense complexities of human life. When a conservative approaches a problem like Jihadist violent Islam, he will seek first a grasp of its divisions, analyze the most effective way of defusing and disarming and fighting it, ensure that a strategy in one part of the world is not necessarily salient to another, grapple with unintended consequences, and so on. What Gingrich does is the opposite. What he always longs for is the absolute, eternal principle, the clarifying concept, the rhetorical rallying cry that speaks to the ideological gut rather than the reality-based frontal cortex. And Gingrich’s notion of foreign policy – making John Bolton his secretary of state – is essentially a policy of open hostility to the entire world, including allies who differ, and a maximalist military solution to most problems.

via The Daily Beast.

Now I am probably just as alarmed by Gingrich’s inadequate handling of foreign policy as Sullivan, but look closely and you’ll see that every one of his points is wrong. It’s not that we don’t both hope and pray that Newt never gets anywhere near the White House, it’s moreso that I have a “meta” perspective on his philosophy and he doesn’t have one on mine. He’s a reconstructed Burkean conservative who doesn’t quite grasp postmodernism. I’m a postmodern thinker who reconstructs conservatism and progressive ideologies through an evolutionary theory.

Let me fisk his post sentence by sentence so you can see what I’m talking about. Sullivan writes:

Which makes him [Newt Gingrich] the perfect antithesis of conservatism. Conservatism is concerned with reality, which it understands shifts with culture, history, region and all the immense complexities of human life.

No. Andrew is entitled to redefine “conservative” in his writings in a way that the vast majority of self-identified conservatives can’t recognize, but that’s just the sort of illegitimate, pseudo-metaphysical move with language that would send shivers up an ordinary language philosopher’s spine.

Newt Gingrich’s fixation with moral absolutes and ethnocentric triumphalism is very much in line with the mainstream traditionalist worldview as it is defined by developmental researchers looking at value systems from an evolutionary perspective.

In Spiral Dynamics terms, Gingrich is a Truth Force thinker; in Ken Wilber’s philosophy, a blue altitude thinker; in Steve McIntosh’s thought, he has a traditional consciousness. I prefer to suggest that Gingrich — like the vast majority of conservative thinkers in the mainstream — share values consistent with the Diplomat and Expert structures of ego-development identified by Susanne Cook-Greuter. (Basically, Beck, Wilber, McIntosh, Cook-Greuter, and many other developmental researchers who have looked at political worldviews are talking about the same thing.) What this perspective tells us is that conservative thinkers like Gingrich are very much concerned with reality, but they see reality through the black and white lense of their cognitive and moral developmental structures.

The point being: Gingrich is the “true” conservative because most conservatives today share his basic structure of values development. Andrew is the outlier, a thinker who emphasizes conservative values (more Agape rather than Eros, in Wilberian terms) but who is not located intellectually at anywhere near the same coordinates as the typical Red State thinker.

Also, Andrew is wildly mistaken about Gingrich not being concerned with reality. All political philosophers (even postmodern ones in an odd way) are concerned with reality, it’s just that they see reality in different ways. How Sullivan misses this is beyond me unless he is just cynically taking a stand he doesn’t quite believe in because that’s what his readers expect pundits to do.

Sullivan continues:

When a conservative approaches a problem like Jihadist violent Islam, he will seek first a grasp of its divisions, analyze the most effective way of defusing and disarming and fighting it, ensure that a strategy in one part of the world is not necessarily salient to another, grapple with unintended consequences, and so on.

No, conservatives don’t approach problems like that. The rare conservative who has attained a high enough degree of cognitive flexibility and sophistication does so, provided that she or he has not developed so high as to be more concerned with understanding politics in even more subtle ways (even articulating genuinely mystical appreciation for politics).

For example, at the higher levels of political sensibility they may see that Jihadist Islam is actually a face of human nature which is not distinct from our own face, and that our ego’s efforts to partition reality into good and evil is just another defense mechanism against our realization of unity with all beings. I am the Jihadist. You are the Jihadist. Everyone in the world is the Jihadist. Now … what sort of political action makes sense from THAT all-inclusive, world-centric perspective?

Sullivan continues:

What Gingrich does is the opposite. What he always longs for is the absolute, eternal principle, the clarifying concept, the rhetorical rallying cry that speaks to the ideological gut rather than the reality-based frontal cortex.

Not really. What Gingrich does is long for the absolute truth in an ideological prism constructed with, as I put it recently,

a worldview consonant with what Susanne Cook-Greuter terms the Diplomat stage, a station of life with a language of simple statements of fact, referring to concrete realities seen from a single aspect. It’s a world where the most important thing is having the right beliefs and sticking up for them right or wrong and being “best equipped” to enforce those beliefs with the authority of the state.

That’s not looking to an “ideological gut” (i.e., a purely emotive, non-cognitive place in contrast to Andrew’s superior powers of cognition), it’s looking to a genuinely cognitive facility with limited capacity for agility, one akin to a hierarchical stage of intellectual and/or moral development that most of us passed through in early adolescence, according to psychological researchers following in the tradition of Maslow, Piaget, and Gilligan.

Sullivan continues:

And Gingrich’s notion of foreign policy – making John Bolton his secretary of state – is essentially a policy of open hostility to the entire world, including allies who differ, and a maximalist military solution to most problems.

Hardly. Sullivan misreads Gingrich as being “openly hostile” to the world, when actually it’s better to say that Gingrich is “openly assertive” of American power and that he doesn’t really see or care much about “the world.”

His consciousness has evolved with heightened sensitivity to perceived threats to order, and his default mode is frequently responsive to those threats in ways that many of us can’t quite grasp because we are so differently constituted. In other words, Gingrich’s moral capacities are just a notch more elevated than a self-important, rebellious teenage boy. Gingrich is a good defender of his home turf, as he defines it, but that’s not so much hostility towards the world as obliviousness.

Conclusion

Andrew Sullivan may be one of our great political commentators writing today, one whose insights I gain value from daily, but sometimes his blindness to his own embedded position in a flatland discourse gets so annoying I just have to express my frustration. To him, everyone but him is basically wrong. He, more than most pundits today, has seen his thought evolve over time; and yet he never turns his eyes to the fact of development itself. In this sense, reading Andrew Sullivan is a bit like watching a train wreck.

To me, following Wilber, everyone has a piece of the truth as seen from their unique perspective. It seems to never occur to Sullivan that conservatism as an ideology exists at multiple structures of values development as a perfectly valid type of expression, and it is perfectly natural to expect Gingrich’s lower level of conservatism to co-exist with Sullivan’s higher level.

There are still higher levels than Sullivan’s, though the higher up on the rungs of political values development one climbs, according to the psychological research such as Robert Kegan of Harvard’s Education School and Ken Wilber’s Integral Politics, the more the distinctions between conservative and liberal become blurred, the more problems appear in need of solution that never before mattered (such as the problem of how to encourage the development of rich interiority in a mass populace and how to use public policy to bring people up the spiral of development). At more evolved stations of life, development itself is increaasingly prized and the goal if politics is redefined in terms of universal care, compassion, love, and justice.

Sullivan doesn’t get this critique not because he hasn’t heard it (I know I’m not the only developmentally informed writer on politics who has tried to bend his ear), but because … I don’t know why. I blog about how frustrated I am about Andrew Sullivan’s thought every couple of years or so and send him an E-mail about it, but he always ignores it. I’ve asked him to do an “Ask Andrew Anything” segment on his view of developmentally-informed political thought such as Ken Wilber’s, and he ignored it.

Ken Wilber once wrote that for a person to grasp that their thought and entire self is developmentally constructed is a big deal. Upon this realization, one must consequently re-examine all one’s beliefs in light of this knowledge and change more than 5% of one’s entire belief system about reality, and this is simply too much for many people to cope with. They instead go into denial. I guess maybe Andrew Sullivan is just not willing to open a can of worms that would make everything he has written to date remarkably partial and limited, or risk the embarrassment of not having a cogent response to a “fringe” view.

Either that, or I’m very wrong (from his perspective), and one of these days he’s going to explain why … and I’ll be so bowled over I’ll just have to change my mind.

A Review of William Harryman’s Integral Options Cafe Blog

Back in June 2005, William Harryman started an eclectic blog on an “integral worldview” with attention given to Ken Wilber’s work, Spiral Dynamics, psychology, Buddhism, and other topics. Since then, the Integral Options Cafe has remained remarkably consistent and prolific save for a welcome deepening of its investigation and critiques of neuroscience-related articles.

The author isn’t shy about revealing glimpses of his personal life, sharing his progressive political opinions, and inveighing against gurus who he sees as abusive. Whether or not his mindset reflects a truly integral consciousness is something readers can decide for themselves. Personally I have found his heart-wide-open poetry more consonant with his deeply held and lived spiritual principles than his diatribes.

Many posts appear to virtually reprint entire articles wholesale, which can raise alarms for readers concerned with the erosion of intellectual property in online media. No prolific blogger I know is entirely pure when it comes to strict obedience to copyright law, but Bill does take this practice farther than many.

In my view, Bill occasionally veers into off-base asides or wanders onto a caustic and uncharitable tone that is downright mean (as when he has speculated wildly on the health issues of Wilber), but these shortcomings do not make his blog mainly unreadable. If nothing else, the enormity of links and news items is a collection difficult to find anywhere else.

More curious, I feel, is that in its structure and content the blog seem to ape the all-too-familiar design, appearance, and conventions of the mainstream blogosphere, whereas this reader would prefer to see its author take more risks. Considering that the integral philosophy claims to offer a revolutionary worldview that breaks the chains of “first-tier” thinking, Bill’s format and content here seem disconcertingly conventional. And the consistency of the blog over five years also raises the question of the author’s own development over this span of time and whether the blog has kept pace or if it reflects a static state.

There are many integral options, and Bill’s vision is certainly a valuable one that will be especially resonant with Buddhists and some critics of Ken Wilber. His path is continually evolving and the reader willing to cross some barbwire fences can find interesting views and links here on a lively mosaic of topics.


Note: This review originally appeared on IntegralLife.com, Aug. 24, 2010

The six principles compared to the principles of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a tradition honoring African-American culture first celebrated in 1966. It is based on a synthesis of philosophies drawing from Afrocentrism, cooperative (or socialistic) economics, and black nationalism. The founder, Ron Karenga, described the principles as “the seven-fold path of blackness: think black, talk black, act black, create black, buy black, vote black, and live black.”

Bridge of Light is a new tradition honoring the full dignity and equality of all people. It is the fruit of ideas generated at the 2004 Gay Spirit Culture Summit in Garrison, New York; first promoted by writer Joe Perez; first celebrated in 2004. It is based on principles of integral philosophy and spiritual evolution, however it does not require adherence to any particular worldview or perspective.

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Politics, elitism, and when to throw punches

In a comment on this blog, Nagarjuna said…

You say that second-tier Democrats might “begin to lose their arrogance and elitism, because they are able to see the irreducible value and merit of the entire spectrum of development, and to contextualize their own place in a cycle of development where there is no peak.” I like the sound of this, but I wonder just how much “merit” there really is to a “lower” or less inclusive “greed is good” or “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so” level of development in today’s world, and how and how much one at a more inclusive level can respect and effectively work with someone at a less inclusive level. I agree that someone at a more inclusive level should not feel or display the kind of arrogance that alienates people at less inclusive levels. But I wonder how exactly this translates into how this person should interact personally and politically with others at “lower” levels.

My response (mostly unedited and still quite rough):

Since you are familiar with the color scheme of Spiral Dynamics, permit me to answer by reference to these colors.I wish that SDi hadn’t given the pluralistic level the color green and integral level the color yellow. The level of relativistic pluralism is really already symbolized quite well by the Rainbow Flag. Yes, it’s particular to the GLBT community. However, it’s also the symbol of Multiculturalism (e.g., Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition). The flat, unidimensional Rainbow is really the symbol par excellence of pluralism.

Integral shouldn’t be thought of as a separate color. Integral is a further extension of pluralism, from relativistic pluralism to universal pluralism. It’s the Rainbow turned from flat to multi-dimensional. It’s what I call the Bridge of Light, a spiral-shaped, dynamic rainbow of colors.

So in essence one doesn’t get to the integral level, look around at all the pathetic losers at lower levels of development, and start ringing your hands. First off, you’ve done the hard work at the pluralistic level of multicultural sensitivity training, expansion of awareness, deepening of feelings and capacity for intimacy, you’ve grown in appreciation for feminism and other modern liberation movements not only as abstract notions but as an expansion in your own being. Becoming more tolerant and sensitive to others is hard work, and if you’ve put in your time as a pluralist, you’re well on your way to getting there. Problem is: you may get Democratitis, you may get soft in the head, indecisive, you lose the killer instinct, the fire in the belly has gone out, and you start losing every argument because you see so many contexts and perspectives you’re paralyzed. You start to look for what might help, but you look to what you’ve seen before–attitudes and philosophies and religions at past levels of development–and you go, no thanks.

What happens as pluralists turn integral is that they look around and they see all the colors of the rainbow within themselves and the world around them arranged as a dynamic spiral of hierarchical development. They stop feeling separate from the “lower” levels of development, because they can see those levels within themselves. They begin to appreciate that the levels are a permanent aspect of the human condition, and cannot be by-passed. Every child starts at zero, and every child always will. So integral (yellow) properly understood is basically an extension of pluralism (green): it’s a deepening of compassion and love to encompass previously under-appreciated areas of self, culture, and nature.

Simultaneously, as one expands one’s awareness that the stages/levels are aspects of one’s own being, paradoxically, one transcends exclusive association with any of those aspects. One’s sense of self gets too wide to encompass any of those. It becomes impossible, then, to spout simple political slogans. Politics becomes the work of compassion and love, done in the thick of a world that demands compromise, negotiation, and skillful communications.

That said, personally the thing that’s most helpful to me in the writing I do on integral and politics is to bear in mind that there are healthy and unhealthy expressions of every level/stage. When I go on the attack, it’s against unhealthy expressions at any level. And I don’t feel a need to hold back on the punches. This is very confusing to some people to see me rather stridently attack people on both the left and the right, secularists and religionists, hedonists and moralists alike. On the other hand, if I simply want to criticize a perspective for being limited, I see no need for a frontal assault. My rhetoric and tone reflect a gentler approach. If I see somebody expressing a basically healthy attitude at a lower level of consciousness, I try to find someone at the same level who’s expressing himself with unhealthy, pathological ways, and then I contrast the two (here’s the good cop, there’s the bad cop). If I see somebody stretching beyond the green level towards yellow, I encourage them along their path, usually by something as simple as a blessing or encouraging tone. If I see somebody at orange stretching towards yellow, I try to push them back down to green, because you can’t skip levels (I realize some people want that to be a controversial proposition, but it really isn’t. That’s my firm opinion at this time). Orange’s desire to be more like yellow is often just misplaced revulsion at green; they need to to be encouraged to work on their aversion to green.

Orange moving to yellow is very tricky, because if you’re smart enough to read Wilber’s work and engage it critically then you’re pretty much at yellow on the cognitive line of development… but still have rationalism as your “center of gravity.” In politics, reason, debate, and dialogue dominate your ways of thinking and acting. Everything’s about who has the best arguments wins the debate. This basic attitude is the dominant approach among the “intellectual titans” of our political magazines and even in the blogosphere. This sort of condition isn’t hard to spot, for these individuals generally haven’t learned the developmental lessons of green. In the integral community, I’ve encountered this most often among self-described “integral neo-conservatives,” to be frank. One fellow I know who lives in the Northwest calls himself an “integral conservative” and writes nasty things about gay marriage, feminism, liberals, and the wickedness of polyamory on his weblog. That’s not even close to integral, if you ask me. That’s delusional. If you engage these folks in political discussion, you’ll find that they’re still basically pretty partisan or attached to right/wrong views of whatever their positions are. It calls itself “integral,” but if it talks and walks like a very different animal, it’s integral in name only.

P.S.: Integral politics isn’t pacifistic or lovey dovey. It’s okay, and it is sometimes absolutely essential, to go on the attack and throw hard punches. An excellent sign your writing on politics has reached an integral level is that you’re attacking unhealthy/pathological expressions of all the various levels/stages, and not focusing unduly on just some of them. In my writing, I notice a tendency to go a little light on the egocentric/hedonistic stage, and a little harsh on the traditionalist stage. And that’s just a bias that I am (somewhat) aware of. Part of the benefit of writing is its ability to help us to spot our own blind spots and shadows, so we can better integrate those aspects into our being.

On misunderstandings

Many common misunderstandings are the result of clashes between different personality types (Mars and Venus, Aries and Cancer, etc.) Other misunderstandings are the result of clashes of psychological structure, level, or stage. Here’s a quote from Ken Wilber on these latter sorts of misunderstandings (from Excerpt D from the Kosmos trilogy):

Me and my blue interiors belong to the local Lion’s Club; you and your yellow interiors belong to the local Integral Institute. We have already seen that this means that you and I share interior culture up to the level of blue; and thus we can converse within a meaningful “we” up to the blue level of discourse, because the signs and tokens that we exchange will have similar-enough referents up to the blue worldspace (and thus we will share a cultural solidarity up to that point). But greenand yellow symbols, words, and signs will be “all Greek” to me; their referents are literally over my head, and therefore although I can hear their signifiers they have no real meaning for me. I am inside no “we” such that my intersections are internal to the patterns of those phenomenological spaces. I literally cannot see what you are talking about. Your yellow values include a worldcentric or global ecological consciousness; my blue values do not. We live in the same ecosystem, but only one of us has ecological awareness….

 

Me and my blue interior can read the book Spiral Dynamics, and I can memorize the descriptions and definitions of all the major structures and vMemes. I can memorize the words and signifiers that define beige, purple, red, blue, orange, green, yellow, and turquoise. If you ask me to describe turquoise, I might be able to do so perfectly. Does that mean that I am at the turquoise level or structure of development? Not at all. “Structures,” as we were saying, are third-person descriptions (in “it” language) of first-person realities, and therefore I can memorize the descriptions without actually being acquainted with those realities. I have access to these “its” by description, but I only have access to the corresponding “I” realities if I myself transform to those levels, stages, or structures and thus know those realities by acquaintance.

As I wrote in “I blog, therefore I lie,”I have defined the intended audience of this blog in a way to minimize disruptions from cross-meme misunderstandings.

So when a conservative religionist, say, Danielle, tells me that she thinks I’m going to hell because the Bible says God hates queers, I know better than to attempt a discourse that’s “over her head.” Of course, I’m familiar enough with the rote arguments about the Bible and homosexuality that I could take my time to respond as effectively as possible at her level of sophistication. But I choose not to. Thankfully, there are plenty of other people who can regurgitate the same old arguments with Danielle and perhaps help to stretch or raise her consciousness. Growth is possible for Danielle, but it’s not up to me to get her to grow or set the time-frame for her evolution. Heck, she can stay stuck where she is, projecting her hatred of queers onto God and all that, and that really doesn’t disturb me much, just so she isn’t in a position of social or political influence. Then she needs to be countered, and not just by quoting liberal interpretations of the Bible, but countered by effective arguments and strategies at multiple levels.

Living with a STEAM-based practice in the real world involves doing some rather dicey balancing acts. It means realizing that a full, real, embodied awareness of the existence of sexism, heterosexism, and homophobia does not exist in a stable and enduring fashion in the interiors until an individual has reached a pluralistic level of consciousness or higher. With this insight, it’s possible to grow in forgiveness and tolerance even of the intolerant. It’s harder to forgive an anti-gay tirade when you think you’re talking to another Hitler. But if you see Danielle’s tirades as baby-talk, and see her more like a baby than like Hitler, forgiveness and right understanding are easier. Even if the baby needs to be spanked, it still needs love. Of course, telling Danielle that hers is baby-talk probably won’t win her friendship. Anyone got a problem with that? If you’re timid about losing a friend, keep your thoughts to yourself. I don’t care. I didn’t say you have to tell Danielle any of your assessments of her relative level of consciousness, though if you do, you should try to do so with a loving spirit. How would a fundamentalist put it? “Love the immature person, hate the immaturity?”

I don’t worry about whether I hurt a fundamentalist’s feelings. And if they’re hurt, perhaps it will be a spur to growth, who can say. As I wrote earlier on this blog, religious conservatives are not my target audience. I’m more worried about the message that I send to people in a green worldspace if they hear that integral/STEAM is so “evolved” that now they need to tell anti-gay bigots that “everyone’s right,” and that to fight homophobia they should meditate, do nothing, and let Spirit take care of everything. Such a message, based on misunderstandings, would lead to an immediate dismissal of integral thought and practice among the group that is most likely to appropriate a new and higher way of thinking. And that would be a disaster. To avoid such miscommunications, my rhetorical strategy is aimed at reach my target audience (largely those at the pluralistic and integral levels) which isn’t necessarily the person who I am responding to. I’m not talking merely about tailoring my message to the audience that I’m speaking to; I’m talking about talking on point to my intended audience, and resisting efforts by my actual audience to pull me off the message.

So with Danielle and other fundamentalists, it’s possible to devise more effective strategies for containing the harm when they decide to take up political arms to foist their religion-based heterosexism on the rest of us. And it’s possible to choose to refrain from dialogue with unsuitable debate partners, thus avoiding the inevitable cross-meme misunderstandings and the harm and bad karma that may consequently arise. The most compassionate response to potential debate partners pounding on your door with some sort of fundamentalist tract is not to welcome them in. Shoo them away instead! Some things are better left unsaid.