Integral Perspectives

by Christopher Lovejoy on June 12, 2011

On Wednesday morning of this past week, someone sent police a tip that a man was driving alone in a carpool lane with a mannequin in the passenger’s seat.

It didn’t take too long for police to locate his black SUV. The driver was alone, accompanied by an inflatable doll as a female passenger wearing a jacket and cap.

The mannequin was seized and put into an evidence locker.

The jacket and cap were returned to the driver, and the 51-year-old driver was charged with two offences relating to the improper use of high occupany vehicle lanes.

In relating this story, I’m reminded of these words from Abraham Lincoln:

You might fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.

Credulous, Suspicious, Oblivious

The person who tipped off police to the driver with the doll was paying attention.

Not only was this person paying attention, he or she was also able to put two and two together to realize that a rule of the highway had been violated. This person also took action and called police.

This is someone who was acting from an integral perspective. That is to say, this is someone who was experienced enough to grasp the meaning and value of being credulous, suspicious, and oblivious.

Allow me to explain further.

If I’m ready and willing to believe something, especially on slight or uncertain evidence, then I’m being credulous. Being credulous, however, is not necessarily a bad thing.

If, while driving in a carpool lane, I give a cursory glance to someone sitting in the passenger side of an SUV, I will naturally assume that this someone is a real person, but if I notice something odd or strange about this person, then on the basis of slight or uncertain evidence, I might move in and take a closer look.

If, when I take a second look, I notice the stiff posture and the odd complexion, I become suspicious.

Being suspicious is associated with being negative (and who wants to be negative?), but it allows me to question the purpose of this odd character sitting in the passenger seat of the SUV.

Lacking the intelligence or the motivation or the presence of mind to make a connection between this odd character and the carpool lane, I might leave it at that.

If I do, though, I’m oblivious, not only to the connection, but to the implication contained within it.

Without an active and conscious knowledge or awareness of the situation in which I find myself, not only can I not realize that a rule has been violated, I cannot act in response to this realization. I might also have the presence of mind to make the connection, but remain oblivious in response to it.

Being aware that I could be oblivious in either case, however, allows me to see that I have a choice.

That is, I can choose to make a conscious connection – or not – and if I do, I can choose to act consciously in response to the implication contained within the connection – or not.

To recap, here are three quick lessons:

  1. it’s okay to be credulous; slight or uncertain evidence is not necessarily a bad thing
  2. it’s okay to be suspicious; it allows you to question strange or unusual occurrences
  3. it’s okay to be oblivious; it provides you with a contrast by which to make a choice

I would also take heed of this caveat: it’s okay to be credulous, suspicious, and oblivious, as long as you’re credulous, suspicious, and oblivious from an integral perspective.

Let’s explore this idea in more depth.

A Dire Situation is Unfolding

On March 11, 2011, the nation of Japan experienced a major event in its history: a devastating 9.0 earthquake and a 33-foot-high tsunami, which damaged its nuclear power facilities in Fukushima.

About eight hours after the quake, authorities revealed that the cooling systems in the reactors at Fukushima were failing, admitting that they were “bracing for the worst”. Radiation levels were reported to be rising in the first reactor about three and half hours later.

On March 12, an explosion occurred in the first reactor. Radiation 1,000 times higher than normal was detected in the control room. Officials moved to evacuate an estimated 170,000 people within a 20 km radius of the plant. Tokyo Electric Power officials also reported on that day that the third reactor was losing its ability to cool the reactor core and was in the process of releasing radioactive steam.

On March 14, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary announced that there were signs that the fuel rods were melting inside the three Fukushima reactors that were active at the time of the quake, saying “although we cannot directly check it, it’s highly likely happening.”

Much more has happened since then, including fires, explosions, and substantial radioactive releases into the surrounding air and water, along with the threat of more to come.

Many weeks after the disaster, authorities finally realized and reported that meltdowns had occurred in three of the six reactors on site within days of the quake and tsunami.

A couple of weeks after this realization, a government report was issued that indicated something worse than a meltdown had occurred: a melt-through – “the worst possibility in a nuclear accident”.

A meltdown “merely” involves nuclear fuel exceeding its melting point to the point where it damages the core, leaks out, and threatens to release high levels of radiation into the environment.

With a melt-through, nuclear fuel melts through the bottom of damaged reactor pressure vessels into out-containment vessels, the last defense against leakage into the groundwater.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has already stated that the situation at Fukushima is as bad as Chernobyl, but this latest development with the melt-through makes it even worse.

In response to this situation, a senior political official in Japan suggested in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the Fukushima situation could make the entire country of Japan “unlivable”.

At present, we don’t know if groundwater supplies in Japan have been contaminated.

Areas around Fukushima are becoming completely uninhabitable, and much of Japan, including Tokyo, could suffer the same fate if nothing is done to properly and effectively contain the situation.

As of this writing, workers are making attempts to prevent yet another explosion in the third reactor by injecting nitrogen gas into a containment vessel to offset the buildup of hydrogen gas. Unfortunately, they had to back off after just twenty minutes when they realized there was too much radioactivity.

The third reactor is a critical facility because it contains MOX fuels – including a deadly mix of ~9% plutonium and uranium oxide (which is more potent than uranium alone).

This is a disaster that isn’t going away anytime soon.

The biggest concern at the moment is that self-sustaining fission reactions occurring inside reactors 1, 2, and 3 are out of control, and that nothing less than three ~10 kiloton nuclear fission devices will be able to stop them cold – if indeed, they can or do stop them.

But it doesn’t stop there. The rest of the world is being affected as well. Radioactive debris as well as radioactivity in the form of ‘hot particles’ are being carried by air and water currents to other parts of the world, increasing the risk of serious health problems and birth defects.

Understandably, but perhaps naively, government and media reports are attempting to downplay the consequences of this mess by focusing on countering the dangers of radioactive iodine (with only a half-life of 8 days) while minimizing the effects of cesium 137 (with a half-life of 30 days).

If the nuclear melt-through breaches the last remaining barrier, contaminating more of the water we drink and the food we eat, life on planet earth won’t be the same for tens of thousands of years.

Indeed, some in the know have commented that we’ve reached that point already.

Three Psychological Defenses

My best advice for consciously dealing with this information is to remain calm. Even so, I can easily imagine the emotional shields that have gone up and that are going up in response to it.

A credulous response might take this information and ramp it up. The world is coming to an end. The apocalypse is upon us. We’re all destined to become a race of “radioactive zombies”.

Credible reports are coming through the alternative press that the earthquake and tsunami in Japan were intentionally caused by HAARP technology (near-perfect heat rings were detected above the epicenter of the quake days before disaster struck), a nuclear device planted into the seabed 10 km deep 80 miles off the coast of Japan (a ship was observed circling inside a massive whirlpool off the coast of Japan the day disaster struck), and the Stuxnet worm released into one or more of the nuclear facility servers (why did all of the backup power generators fail after disaster struck?) to meet certain economic and political ends, including a sinister agenda to reduce global population over the long-term.

Other reports claim that the disaster was caused by the gravitational effects of a body called Elenin (is it a comet, a brown dwarf, a neutron star?) in perfect alignment with the earth and sun, presently heading towards earth, and that more earth changes and disasters are coming in time for 2012. Some are even maintaining that a mothership carrying a race of reptilians from the constellation Draco is hiding behind Elenin as a prelude to an invasion of earth. Are these the same reptilians from the 4th density with a service-to-self (STS) orientation who are behind the alien abduction phenomenon?

There’s no limit to the human imagination when it’s mixed with fear and credulity. Which is not to dismiss any of these suppositions. I’ve learned the meaning and value of being credulous.

A suspicious response might take this information about the dire situation that is unfolding and downplay it. Surely, it’s not as bad as it sounds. Surely, we have the technology to neutralize the effects of ionizing radiation. Surely, the situation will eventually be contained with concrete.

Perhaps.

I’m so sure about the “surely” part, though.

This past week, on Tuesday, a constructively suspicious response was made by a resident living 135 miles (220 km) south of Fukushima, on the outskirts of Tokyo, well beyond “the dead zone” around Fukushima. He took it upon himself to obtain a geiger counter to measure the radioactive emissions in his immediate environment. Although he didn’t detect much happening in the air, he did find that the pavement on the street where he lived was quite radioactive. His response: “I’ll be leaving soon.”

An oblivious response to the unfolding situation is to pretend it doesn’t exist, to blithely ignore any further developments, to blissfully keep eating tainted sushi and to keep travelling to or through or across the once-beautiful country of Japan with all of its wonderful cultures and customs.

Besides, “radioactivity is good for you”. Have you heard that one?

Credulous, suspicious, oblivious. By themselves? All defenses.

Pull Back, Cast a Cold Eye, Observe, and Think

My regular readers know that I’m a big fan of being a witness to the present moment, of taking a witness perspective in response to painful or difficult situations.

I’m also big on gaining and maintaining objectivity in the face of uncertainty and confusion.

After reading what I shared with you, you might feel there’s little or no hope for humanity or its future. You might feel that the world is being run by a bunch of psychopaths but that there’s little or nothing we can do about them. You might feel that an alien agenda to replace humans with alien-human hybrids is coming to fruition (the aliens might have the technology to clean up the mess).

If so, I would urge you to separate fact from fiction, supposition from speculation, and to say what you know when you know it, and to say what you don’t know when you don’t know it, taking care to back up what you say when you know the truth might seem more than a little unusual, strange, or bizarre.

With so much muted fear on the planet right now, distorted thinking is running rampant. I know of people who have already headed for the hills, and many more who have plans to do the same.

In light of this challenging state of affairs, here are some quick tips for staying calm and sane. Each tip is my response to the styles of distorted thinking discussed here:

  1. give due consideration to every detail of a difficult or confusing situation, negative or positive
  2. assume a middle ground between the extremes of choice – not this or that, but this and that
  3. be flexible in your interpretation of events or situations that cause you pain or uncertainty
  4. remain aware that others often think or feel differently than you about something controversial
  5. stay calm when something bad happens; trust (or expand) your capacity to change or adapt
  6. view your encounters, not as clues to your worth, but as opportunities to affirm your worth
  7. cultivate a sense of destiny, with you in charge, but be sure to satisfy your own needs first
  8. identify or establish for yourself what is fair, and if necessary, insist on it with a light touch
  9. affirm your right (and responsibility) to make your needs known, to say no, or to go elsewhere
  10. relax your rules about how you and others should behave; go easy when your rules get broken
  11. keep some distance between your thoughts and feelings; what you feel might not even be true
  12. concentrate your efforts to change yourself, or to be happy with yourself, on yourself
  13. consider all available evidence when you feel the urge to judge quality in yourself or others
  14. relax your need to be right; be happy with yourself to cultivate honest, caring relationships
  15. do “the right thing”, but only if you care to do it, and only if your heart is really in it

All of these tips add up to a prescription for cultivating authentic power for yourself in the face of challenge and difficulty, in response to uncertainty and confusion.

I’d like to focus on four tips that are particularly relevant (numbers 1, 3, 5, and 7).

In the face of a looming disaster or catastrophe, we might have a tendency to focus on the negative details, magnifying them out of proportion, while ignoring some or all of its positive aspects.

Let’s focus on the positive. At present, there are two facets to the unfolding situation.

First, concerted efforts are currently being made to contain the meltdowns and melt-throughs. Judging by how quickly the Japanese repaired a major highway in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami, it seems they can be quite innovative and efficient when it comes to repairing and restoring damage.

Some would argue that the Japanese were short-sighted for building nuclear reactors in areas with high seismic activity, but in their defense, I would add that such building is reported to have occurred some four decades ago, when seismic activity was relatively low (although I also understand that a serious quake did occur in the region of Fukushima back in 1896).

Second, the ionizing radiation that is spreading around the world through the air and water is a clear and present danger to our immunological defenses. Alternative therapies that have been suppressed by mainstream medicine, such as The Gerson Protocol, can be called upon to bolster our defenses.

The Gerson Protocol would have us detoxify the body with raw, fresh juices and coffee enemas, to bring the body into an alkaline condition with the consumption of alkalizing foods (raw, living foods primarily) and through the avoidance of acidifying foods (e.g., refined sugar and animal products).

Long-term survivors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima relied on a strict diet of traditional Japanese food: brown rice, miso (expecially long-fermented miso), tamari soy soup, seaweed, and sea salt, while avoiding refined sugar and sweets. Here’s another list of foods and supplements to help counter the effects of ionizing radiation, especially over the long-term.

With overgeneralization, we might come to the conclusion that the current human race is doomed.

While it’s true that many could suffer, even die from serious health problems and birth defects, there could also be many who don’t. Even in a worst case scenario, a thriving civilization could arise yet again on earth, say, in a hundred thousand years. Cold comfort, I know, but there it is.

Catastrophizing occurs when you expect disaster around every corner. You hear about this problem, you read about it, and then you start up with the “what if’s”. You imagine people getting very sick and dying from radioactive poisoning and you start asking: what if this happens to me? What if this tragedy strikes my family or community? What if chaos and confusion erupts all over the planet?

There are no limits to a fertile catastrophic imagination.

The underlying catalyst for this style of thinking is that you’ve lost trust in yourself and/or others and your/their capacity to change and adapt. As I indicated above: stay calm in the face of looming crisis; trust (or seek to expand) your capacity to change or adapt. I would add: and do this until all viable options for neutralizing or countering threats have been exhausted.

In general, there are two ways to distort your sense of power and control, especially in a difficult situation. If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as a helpless victim of fate. If you feel internally controlled, you feel responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around you.

Feeling externally controlled keeps you stuck. You don’t believe that you can really affect the course of your life, let alone make any difference to the dire situation that is unfolding. The truth is that we’re making decisions every day, and every one of these decisions affects our lives in some way.

On the other hand, the fallacy of internal control leaves you feeling exhausted, attempting to meet the needs of everyone around you. You feel responsible for doing this and feel guilty when you cannot.

Be good to yourself.

A situation is unfolding that has global ramifications. This invisible threat will likely test our limits like they’ve never been tested before. To complicate matters, other potentially dire situations with global ramifications are also threatening to overwhelm the world’s capacity to cope.

As simple and meek as this advice sounds, I would advise that you do what you can with what you have in the weeks and months ahead, and be ready to lend a hand wherever you can.

What About Personal Fulfillment?

Needless to say, this unfolding situation has put a damper on my quest to articulate the ultimate in personal fulfillment almost to the point of extinction (pun not intended). My enthusiasm for meditating on the value of beauty, harmony, serenity, and intimacy came close to being sucked dry.

Increasingly, I find myself switching perspectives, from a be-do-have orientation to a be-know-love orientation. Or maybe the latter orientation is taking precedence in my mind over the former?

I’ve seen this switch occur in a growing social movement called Minimalism. Could this movement not be a reaction against everything that has contaminated the be-do-have orientation? As far as I can see, this movement contains the seeds for a renewal of vitality through the be-know-love orientation.

Be that as it may, shifting our focus to being, knowing, and loving ourselves in a realistic, reasonable, and responsible way seems like a good antidote to losing perspective with the current predicament.

And as I’m sure you  know, what we do to (and for) ourselves, we eventually do to (and for) others.

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