Saturday, November 17, 2007

Wolves and Angels; An Integral Reflection

The following piece was inspired by a class I am taking at Fordham University. Our assignment for the semester is to critically analyze any modern social movement. And, without any exaggeration on my part, 2/3rds of the class are writing about civil rights, pluralism, and sensitivity. The remaining classmates, including myself, are writing about consciousness, suicide and evangelism. For those of you who are familiar with Integral lingo, I suppose this class would be gravitating heavily toward the "green" meme, or pluralism/sensitivity.

And that's fine.

Two weeks ago, we had to present our topics. Unfortunately, when students that dared utter terms like: development, levels, lines, integral, unified diversity, map of consciousness, hierarchy of meaning,

They were on me like white on rice.

I was instantly given looks, raised eyebrows, questions with a mildly condescending tone.

"How can this be applied on a practical level?" I was asked by someone, with nods of agreement from other classmates.

"What are they doing to help people?" Another suggested.

I can understand where they are coming from, for sure. Our school is relatively progressive, heavily focused on the arts, liberal sciences, sensitivity, cultural awareness, etc. Yet, when the mention of unified diversity hit the air, they were wary and skeptical. This was disconcerting to me, as I was hoping to gain a spark of interest from the class (Integral is a rare topic in the university). My ego was smushed.

So the irony here began to set in. They had no problem being intolerant to the evangelical movement, agreeing whole heartedly that it was oppressive and backwards, shaking their heads at the in-class film, Jesus Camp. Yet, when something that is authentically unified comes along, like the mention of integral theory, they attack it! Strange, no?

And without further delay (Sorry for the ramble folks), here it is:

Wolves and Angels; An Integral Reflection

And we had it all. Upstairs in the student hall at least a hundred fliers, with a dozen different things to do. The world was at our fingertips, right there in our classrooms, and it was in very bad shape they'd tell us, very bad shape.

You could travel to Africa with foreign aid projects, discuss gender and race with the sensitivity club, and taste fine exotic foods in MultiCulture club. And this was all very progressive, so they would tell us. I had begun to have my doubts.

We sit in classrooms and discuss the same theme: Oppressive, hungry, needing world. Woe to you and we, the more fortunate, should extend our efforts. Sensitivity. Awareness. Effort. Assistance. The students are rallied up, in a very subtle way, to help. Yet I noticed, as each took their turn discussing one strife or another, that there was a level of enjoyment in it! Yes, hidden there, in the words of liberty, sensitivity, multiculture, there was an escape. Dare I say, it? No, I needn't, shouldn't. The escape was simple: If we all could immerse ourselves in these ideas, this diversity, we would be safe, we could make a meaning out of our lives and wish the demons away. These students were not actively wishing anything but their own security. The ultimate narcissism, it seems for us here in school, is through ideals. And this, if I were to say it aloud, would have them at me like a pack of wolves, who had just forgotten they were supposed to be angels.

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