There's no accident that we have the most regressive administration in decades violently wrenching us backwards. As we slowly progress forward towards equality, justice, harmony, we have these "1 step forward, 10 steps back" scenarios as if the forces of nature are required to rebalance into stasis.
Remembering the first Obama inauguration I try to reconnect with the meaning I made of it. Thoughts like "We really have come a long way," "Americans are finally accepting we are equal," "People do want what's best for everyone, not just themselves," bubbled through my mind, creating possibilities buoyed by the hope of our first black president.
That seems like a lifetime ago as the unfettered fear and distrust has become a rallying cry of Us versus Them and the no longer silent 'dog whistles' screech out for separation, hate and greater division.
As consciousness breaks through into new ground, inevitably there seems to be a backlash to pull back to "simpler" days and what we knew and the false stability of what we once understood.
There are many ways to understand this. Sociologically, it's the constant pendulum of societal rhythms, moving left and then right, towards egalitarianism and then embracing authoritarianism. Psychologically, it's the growth and expansion and then need to coil in and process, protect and find safety in a new equilibrium. Philosophically it's the final break from a clock-like Cartesian model of the universe into a flowing ontological and ecological understanding. Leaving behind the black and white for relativistic grays and a merging of opposites, subject and object, cause and effect.
The question remains however: is this just a circle and we are going absolutely no where? Or, is this a spiral, where the previous apex is now our nadir and there's a measurable progress and while it "feels" as if we have gone lower than before, we are actually on a steady climb upwards.
I wish it were as simple as the second thesis. Can we really understand WW2 and the slaughter of 10's of millions as part of our progress? I say "no." It was what it was: an unprecedented backslide and needless destruction and death. We lost so much as a planet and a species. But this is our lot, so we learn, and move forward. Well, I hope we learn!
Now, combine that with, "yes, we are slowly progressing as a species into newfound heights of understanding and consciousness in a spiral of unmitigated evolution." Why do I say so? Because this is the fundamental nature of the universe. Somehow we started as undifferentiated gas and from the first simple atom of hydrogen we have the periodic table, organic life and more and more complex life forms and ideation. We ended up with consciousness that is aware of it’s own consciousness!
This kind of thinking calls for a leap past the black and white comfort of dichotomies and binary value judgements. And this is one way of understanding the grotesque regression we are currently seeing of the core values of elevated consciousness and progressivism: equality, justice, unity, peace, love.
It is absolutely ‘perfect’ that we have an unmitigated misogynist as President spurring on a new women’s rights movement. Unfortunately, it seems like that was necessary to mobilize us. But then again, how much harm will needlessly be done because of mistakes that will be made in the name of “making America great again?” And of course, just as we cross into the first period of US history where white christians are not the majority, they are going to react in fear and literally and figuratively build walls to keep the “other” out.
The expansion needs something to push against. Unfortunately, that something can push back very hard. In the midst of the Vietnam war, young people all across the country brought into question the core values that the previous generation thought were unquestionable. How threatening! And while cities burned, hippies dropped out, woman burned their bras and black Americans etched out a tiny bit of space to feel empowered, what did the country do? They elected Dick Nixon to the white house and ensured the continuation of the war and draconian judicial policies (for which we still pay the price) to fortify “law and order.”
The old guard, no matter which guard it is, craves stability and sameness. Each time a leap forward is made, the discomfort is palpable and something must be done. And this is not a conscious, thought-out reaction. It is a dynamic that is difficult to see and impossible to measure. (Although we could talk to 538.com to see if they have any ideas).
Underpinning all of this is an awakening of consciousness. From the popularization of eastern philosophy via psychedelics in the 60’s to the mainstreaming of yoga and meditation now in the 2010’s, it is hard to deny that ideas that were foreign and incomprehensible to 98% of Americans in 1950 are now commonplace and accepted by what, 40, 45, 60% of Americans? And now we have psychedelics re-emerging, now clothed in the legitimacy of research, science, medicine. Even as portions of the country’s coiled bodies shrink back, threatened, into their nests, we have Ayahuasca ceremonies popping everywhere, mushrooms being used to treat depression, MDMA being clinically tested for trauma therapy.
Consciousness expands, there is no stopping it.
Transformation is a process that is inevitable. There is no stopping it because it is the very nature of the universe, the very nature of being human. It may look quite different from eon to eon or century to century, but until life comes to a halt, consciousness will transform itself. The caterpillar has to become the butterfly— it is its very nature. Human Being has to be an awe-inspiring creative force, even as self-destruction threatens its very existence.