Congratulations, President Obama, by Robb Smith

Submitted by Quest-News-Serv... on Tue, 01/20/2009 - 19:58.

Congratulations, President Obama
http://tinyurl.com/78cq7s
by Robb Smith

On behalf of the entire Integral community, I'd like to extend sincere
congratulations to President Obama on his historic election. Today we
witness not only millennia of human progress symbolized in another
peaceful transfer of political power but also the first black American to
accept service in United States' highest office. I believe it possible that
today may be remembered throughout history as a turning point for the
human race. Today may mark the birth of the Integral Age.

A leader today -- whether in business, religion, politics or otherwise -- has
to lead at a time not only when the span in age of those she leads is the
greatest it's ever been (due to longer life spans), but so too is the span in
developmental stages the widest it's ever been (due to the ever-
expanding edge of human evolution). At no time in history has the
diversity of perspectives been greater, or the need more urgent for
leaders who can reach across all perspectives and unite us in a common
vision of responsibility and service.

The leading paradigm for handling this diversity, multiculturalism (and its
insistence that all views are equal), has failed under the weight of its own
absurdity. After all, if all views are equal than we cannot even accept our
own views with any real seriousness, and we're left to cope with our very
own lives with either narcissism ("I am everything") or nihilism ("I am
nothing"). (Today's teenagers are the canaries in this coal mine,
essentially screaming for a way out of the existential crisis they've been
taught to espouse.) 

That 2008 provided such frequent and horrific examples of what goes
wrong with both ends of this spectrum only underscores its symbolism as
the year the Information Age ended (sort of loud and painfully, as these
things often do...). 

President Obama recognizes this unique moment in history and will call on
all of us to join together in a unity that can be formed only in a cauldron
of deep crisis and grand vision. Out of the ashes of a demoralized
information age, broken as it has been by the limitations of a system too
complex to bring to heel, arises the Integral Age, marked by a
reconstructive paradigm that can integrate truth, values and action at all
levels of diversity. 

A reconstructive paradigm can honor what has come before -- tradition,
responsibility, values, and long-cultivated social norms -  while also
manifesting a future vision not yet realized -- progressive, compassionate,
liberating and boundary-expanding.

It is with great shock -- and awe! -- that the pundits in Washington are
meeting the first Integral President. In President Obama they find a deep
pragmatist who is concerned with the science of what works, the
empiricism of results.  They do not have a name for what he's doing other
than to say he is "post-cultural," "post-racial," and "post-partisan."

They don't know that the word they seek is "Integral," that in the
embodied integral human the rigid walls of singular dogma are
transcended such that all ideologies can be embraced when appropriate.
(After all, all ideologies are real, having something important to contribute
to our understanding of reality.) 

This ability to fluently operate among and within all ideological positions
creates a trans-ideological leader, one who can handle immense diversity
through neither imposition of a single ideology as we find in traditional
modes of human action, nor a deconstructive act of making all ideologies
equally meaningful (and thereby meaningless) as we find in postmodern
modes of action, but rather a reconstructive act of calling on the entire
range of ideological positions if, as and when appropriate to address the
task at hand. 

That Obama is doing this is suspicious to the traditional conservatives,
scary to the liberals, and just confusing to the intelligentsia. And that he
can do so while also appealing directly to our loftier visions of ourselves,
compelling us to hope, is inspiring.

How can the same leader ask Reverend Warren to provide an inaugural
invocation; seek an unprecedented Keynesian stimulus package; seek to
further socialize health care; have a private dinner with leading
conservative intellectuals; and consider how to rein in devastating and
unrealistic long-term social security and Medicare liabilities?

How, indeed. Embodying an integral view of the world, by definition,
means seeking to integrate, to fully include everyone under the umbrella
while also transcending the narrowness and partiality of each. (This,
incidentally, is why every group that looks at Obama claims him as "one of
them." This is the ultimate litmus test of an integral leader.) A great
leader is one whose sense of self is not threatened by a vigorous war of
ideas, and an integral leader is one who wages the war from a worldview
of love and abundance.

While there is a minefield of massive structural problems that we
collectively face, this is also Obama's real opportunity: great trauma
yields great open-mindedness to meaningful change. I believe that since
the election Obama has been an Integral leader, and if he can continue to
navigate the landscape of open-mindedness that exists while integrating
all the perspectives that are already there waiting for him, than he can
lead us through the birth of the Integral Age and may significantly evolve
the dominant mode of political discourse and action.

Loving regards,

by Robb Smith
http://tinyurl.com/78cq7s

Read another message from Robb Smith here:
http://tinyurl.com/9vzzue

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