The Narrative Gap

“Truth is singular its—versions are mistruths.” — David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas
“Truth is singular its—versions are mistruths.” — David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas

As I am writing these words, I am experiencing, like many of you, stress, fatigue, and dismay. It's a reaction to the deluge of lies, deceit and “purposeful, vindictive chaos”—as Jon Stewart called it—that is being thrown our way. It’s exhausting and quite disheartening to view the sad state of American democracy at this point.

We’ve medicated ourselves with excessive media, narratives, and fake news, to the point that we can no longer tell truth from fiction. The vile, Fascist-Authoritarian mono-myth has reared its ugly head, spewing hatred and not caring about anyone but itself. It relies on people’s cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias. It’s breaking families apart, creating deliberate chaos which is, in actuality, hurting people.

Throughout this wave, I sit and ask myself, what good can come out of this?

Through my pain and sadness, I begin to think forward and ask: How do we start to build a more just and caring world?

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keeps the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” Gandalf - Lord of the Rings

My solace in the past few months is the groundswell and the Rise of the #Resistance, and the #Stand people are taking. Not only against the Authoritarian regime, but as a stand for a kind humanity, a real democracy, and a flourishing planet.

People are mobilizing, organizing, coming together, and bringing in their unique genius to power this movement of solidarity. People are finding their calling, meaning, and power in activism. We are all called to be activists and bring our unique voice to the rising of the people.

It feels like we are starting to bridge the Narrative Gap of the progressive and liberal movements.

I see the idea of the Narrative Gap as part of the predicament of all times - but especially of our age.

We have no shared reality with our fellow humans. We are disembodied, immature people, finally waking up for the first time. We are looking for a new human narrative and coming to the Collective Journey as a new evolutionary moment of our human story.I have written extensively about the Collective Journey - you can read more here! But, in essence:

The Collective Journey is the coming of age metaphor for humanity’s rise from adolescence to adulthood.
The Collective Journey is the coming of age metaphor for humanity’s rise from adolescence to adulthood.

Integral thought refers to a range of philosophies and teachings that seek a synthesis of science and spiritual ideas to attain insight into the nature of the universe. Luminaries of the Integral Thought Movement offer an excellent framework for the spiritual-psychological-societal evolution a human can have with their model of:

Wake Up > Grow Up > Clean up > Show Up.

The process goes something like this: the experience of a person's waking up moment is a lot like Neo waking up from the Matrix. Usually, this is a messy experience, similar to the sewers where Morpheus picks up Neo. As we get our bearings in our new woke experience, we start growing up as a well-rounded, mature human being. Cleaning Up is what we do when we clean up our act by practicing respect and accountability. We begin to take responsibility for our actions and practice respect to ourselves, our fellow human and the planet as a whole. As we move through this spiral of growing, we get to show up as our highest selves. We work in service to the Collective and ourselves. This is the idea of being in a superpositioned state, which I introduced in the Collective Journey Part 1: “The idea of operating from the individual perspective while being part of a collective, and the seamless behavior we are starting to experience as we lead lives online and offline—almost at the same time”.

The Collective Journey comes into being when: Mature, woke, empowered humans start coming together. They bring their unique voices and are acknowledged by others.

I see a huge difference between an actual Collective Journey and Collectivism.

One can find the Collective Journey in geopolitical and social movements. Some examples are: “Standing Rock,” “Our Revolution,” environmental groups and the Cleantech industry, social justice and social entrepreneurship.These groups and others like them aim to support everyone’s quality of life. They look at what makes a world work for all people.

The other groups that are showing up en masse represent that dark side of Collectivism. They possess a StarTrek Borg-like mentality of unification. These are the alt-right narratives that are forming globally, the anti-intellectualism and climate-deniers. All weaving false and hateful stories under a singular idea.

This myopic approach is the antithesis of the multi-thread, multi-POV, and complex system approach of the Collective Journey. This concept of collectivism has brought us totalitarian regimes. It's fuelled by the selfishness of Neo-liberalism, toting Ayn Randian-beliefs of glorified self-interest. These are morally bankrupt humans who seek to unify ideas and race with hate.

It is interesting to me how the light and dark sides of these ideas can form. The NeoLiberal philosophy holds two tenets of Ayn Rand's Objectivism as its highest ideals. Self-Interest and Capitalism-promoting individualism. It forgoes the two other tenants of Reason and Reality. It embraces the Mono-Myth of Nationalism as a totalitarian concept. It also uses the new and old archetypes for minorities and race. To that it adds a newly adopted concept of the snowflake, as a derogatory term for liberals and progressives:

“Calling someone a snowflake combines every single thing a college freshman loves: trolling people on the Internet, a self-satisfied sense of the superiority of one’s own impeccable powers of reasoning, and Fight Club. Nineteen-year-olds around the nation read Atlas Shrugged and then watch Brad Pitt wax poetic about how real masculinity means getting to punch Jared Leto in the face, and now feel enlightened.” - GQ - DANA SCHWARTZ - Why Trump Supporters Love Calling People "Snowflakes”

The interesting thing is the origin of this term, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary: “In Missouri in the early 1860s, a 'snowflake' was a person who was opposed to the abolition of slavery—the implication of the name being that such people valued white people over black people. This use seems not to have endured.” In affect, its use today is the opposite of its origins.

Derogatory names are a telling indicator of being immature. The tenets of the Collective Journey look at woke and mature human beings, coming together from a stance of empowerment. This empowerment does not come from belittling others, it comes from individuals doing their own personal growth work. When they show up as part of the collective, they come to support and collaborate—not compete and fight.

How do we move from a linear point of view to the emergent complex system? How do we evolve from the authoritarian Mono-myth into the collective journey?

Bigger, complex, diverse, and pluralistic narratives, are becoming part of the global narrative. It has its roots in many movements of the past. You can find its origins in the Summer of Love, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Liberation and all the way back to the Abolitionist Movement. In recent years this narrative showed up in Occupy Wall Street, Our Revolution, Standing Rock and now the Women’s March on Washington. It's appearing in the breathtaking plethora of #Resistance movements that are happening globally. They are all using every digital and physical platform to bring forth their stories. From social media, video, to marching and rallying in the streets, the narratives that are being created are multiplatform and have diverse perspectives.

How do we use the Collective Journey as a blueprint to build a strong future?

The architect and futurist, Buckminster Fuller, patented and coined the term "Geodesic Domes.” These were a lattice of intersecting icosahedrons and were extremely strong for their weight.

"I did not set out to design a geodesic dome," Fuller once said, "I set out to discover the principles operative in Universe. For all I knew, this could have led to a pair of flying slippers." Fuller believed that by observing nature, we can tap into its exquisite design.

The Buckminsterfullerene molecule was discovered at Rice University by Harold Kroto, Robert Curl, James R. Heath, Richard Smalley and Sean O’Brien in 1985. “It is a spherical fullerene molecule with the formula C60. It has a cage-like fused-ring structure (truncated icosahedron) which resembles a football (soccer ball), made of twenty hexagons and twelve pentagons, with a carbon atom at each vertex of each polygon and a bond along each polygon edge.” Wikipedia. The scientists who discovered it named it in honor of Buckminster Fuller and his vision.

I would like to introduce a metaphor that will evolve my original model for the Collective Journey. My initial design is in the diagram below.

This model is likened to a cross section you get of a tree when you want to examine its circles. You know the tree is a far more complex system - but from that vantage point, the tree appears to be two dimensional. So is the Collective Journey suggested model above. It is but a glimpse into a complex, emergent and ever-evolving system. The Collective Journey in its three-dimensional form might resemble the Buckminsterfullerene molecule.

This is actually a Fullerene C540 - but the image struck me as needed in this conversation
This is actually a Fullerene C540 - but the image struck me as needed in this conversation

Below are a few anecdotes about the Buckminsterfullerene molecule. These can be of use in making it a great metaphorical candidate for the evolved model of the Collective Journey:

  • The molecule is extremely stable, withstanding high temperatures and high pressures. The exposed surface of the structure can selectively react with other species while maintaining the spherical geometry. Atoms and small molecules can be trapped within the molecule without reacting. [Wikipedia] The Collective Journey is about strength in numbers. Collaborating with others, yet keeping its structure. Inviting others without forcing them or the collective to change.
  • It is believed that every object has the wave-particle duality. This theorem is proved by the wave-particle duality seen in the Buckminsterfullerene. In the Collective Journey, the duality of Self and Collective are superpositioned. The individual can be fully empowered to be herself and bring her unique genius. And at the same time be part of the collective - one is the fractal mirror of the other.

Fuller looked at complex systems of nature and how everything in nature collaborates . He mused that this structure, which symbolizes complexity and strength would appear in nature. He was proven when the molecule was discovered in 1985.

Each node on the molecule is critical to its strength and structure - so is every voice coming into the collective. Each node is unique and vital—Together weaving a powerful structure.

The narrative that is created is networked, porous, multi-platformed, diverse and emergent. The archetypes that show up are multifaceted and ever-evolving. Like Fuller, if we observe our narratives as being part of nature, we will view them from the complex system’s perspective.

For our species to survive and evolve beyond these troubled times, we need to take a longer view of evolution. We need to start looking at our Collective Journey as the next phase of our planetary society. We need to gain the Cosmic Perspective. The perspective that views our place in the universe as the speck of dust we are. We need to cultivate the awe of the grandeur of the universe.

Pale Blue Dot - high resolution photo of the earth from outside our solar system
Pale Blue Dot - high resolution photo of the earth from outside our solar system

Carl Sagan, one of my favorite thinkers and scientists, gave us one of the first vistas into our place in the universe, by suggesting the crew that was piloting the distant satellite, Voyager 1, rotate and take an image of our solar system, as it exited in 1990.

His reflections of this picture were immortalized in “Pale Blue Dot”. At times like these, I hold on to these words almost as scripture. I practice looking at the longer perspective of our species and our planet. I actually hope we finally show up as the evolved species we have the potential to become:

“The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.