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The Four Quadrants of Integral Elderhood

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It is exciting to me to view Integral Elderhood from the perspectives of each of the four quadrants of AQAL. (This is a first attempt in viewing it from this perspective).

In the upper right, the exterior of the individual, the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex of the brain is both highly developed and gradually more challenged with advancing aging. An integral Elder has discerned and adopted a wide range of healthy habits to the best of their ability. The book, Integral Life Practice, is an excellent guide and easily modified for older adults.

In the upper left, the interior of the individual, an integral Elder has embraced a high level of Waking Up and Growing Up, spiritual experience and spiritual intelligence. The practices begun in Adulthood continue to expand and deepen in Elderhood, at the same time that physical ailments may be increasing for the Elders. De Chardin’s Within and Without (of evolutionary development in the face of increasing entropy) may be immediately present in the growing consciousness and increasing physical limitations of integral Elders.

In the lower left, the interior of the collective, the Integral “we” space hopefully becomes sharper and clearer. Integral Elders are future oriented, caring deeply about others, and the sentient beings who haven’t been born yet. They understand that thoughts and feelings are actually structures of reality. They work together with millennials and baby boomers as Integral activists for a better future, blending their wisdom with the wisdom of the younger generation to envision a better world for all. They look at emerging patterns that may be as yet barely visible to the world at large. They help to discern the wheat from the chaff as the bare outlines of the structures and institutions of the future are contemplated.

In the lower right, the exterior of the collective, Integral Elders, like the biblical Moses, may only be able to envision, to glimpse the “promised land” that they will not inhabit, that they will not live to see. They can only hope that the structures and institutions of the future that they are beginning to envision and create will offer new options for more people. But do not think that this bright hope is in vain. The evolutionary vanguard, the lovers of a better future for all, and among them, Integral Elders, have sided with the advance into novelty, the creative impulse that exploded this universe into being and becoming 13.5 billion years ago.

I think they have picked the winning horse.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

When Green Attacks Orange, Amber Wins

I’m following up on my post, “Our Collective Dark Night” in which I spoke about being grateful for traditional, modern and post-modern contributions to humanity that are under fire in the US and around the world. Now I want to look at the challenge of valuing each of these structures of consciousness and culture from an evolutionary and developmental perspective, an integral perspective. In doing so, I hope to cast some light on the title of this post.

When Green Attacks Orange, Amber Wins.To greatly simplify, traditional culture (amber) places great value on fundamentalist, law and order. Modern culture and consciousness (orange) expands to embrace science and its contributions to our daily lives. Post-modern culture and consciousness (green) expands further to embrace equality for everyone. Unfortunately, at times the different structures war with each other, and the more evolved structure throws out the baby with the bath water instead of both transcending and including the hard won gains, the best and essential pieces, of the earlier stages of development. I want to focus on green and orange in particular.

Here is the deal: Post-modernity or Green, is the most developed stage of consciousness and culture to have evolved so far. But it is antagonistic towards Modernity or Orange in many ways. For example, when it insists that capitalism is evil and should be eliminated, it fails to transcend and include the best of capitalism and can lessen our sense of economic interdependence.
When Green insists that there is no objective truth, that all truth is dependent on context, it can support climate change deniers who can now challenge scientific evidence about the effects of climate change and say that’s just your opinion, there is no objective truth that the climate is changing.

When Green says to believe all women who accuse men of sexual assault and ignore due process, Green weakens one of the fundamental protections that is in place against arbitrary tyranny.
Also, Green, in wanting to do away with the dominator hierarchies that originated or persisted through Modernity, often wants to do away with all hierarchy, including natural hierarchies such as parent/child, teacher/student, etc., that allow us to learn and to grow in healthy ways.

In wanting to do away with the oppressive structures of Orange, a good thing, Green can leave us with no structures, a bad thing. That can allow Amber to rush in with fundamentalist structures, such as rigid definitions of right and wrong, to fill the vacuum.

Hopefully, emerging Integral leaders can support Green to not shoot itself in the foot and instead INCLUDE the best of Orange while also transcending its limitations and problems.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Martin Luther King: Reflections from an Integral Elder

I was 27 when Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered in 1968 at the age of 39. Integral consciousness was mostly latent at that time, both in me and in the world. He was a harbinger of that consciousness. His “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington D.C. was prophetic of an integral world, even though that dream is not yet fully realized in 2019.

Martin Luther King: Reflections from an Integral ElderMy adopted daughter is primarily African American. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy and that of President Barack Obama are directly responsible for the evolving Integral world she is embracing wholeheartedly today. At 21 years old, she is a junior in college and active in politics, working to support women becoming elected to public office. Her amazing future is possible because no one, “trumpet” as they might, can destroy the scaffolding that these great American leaders have laid down.

On this great American holiday celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, I am deeply grateful.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Elderhood and Community

I think it is at the stage of Elderhood that the paucity of community in our lives is felt the strongest. Elders know that we cannot fully live alone, and that the nuclear family structure as “the realm of the sacred” as one writer referred to it, is an emotionally impoverished holdover from the relatively recent past. It is a product of the great experiment of modernity and was not supplanted by the variety of postmodern experiments from the 1960s onward. “Unrelated people living together” was mostly zoned out of existence by neighborhood groups and zoning boards with a decided preference for two adults with or without children occupying thousands of square feet in single family dwellings! The nuclear family, invented to serve the needs of all-consuming capitalism, has succeeded admirably in eradicating or severely weakening traditional bulwarks of community, including the extended family and church communities as well as many secular forms of association that people enjoyed in the slightly more distant past.

integration

The reality is that neither traditionals nor the modernists nor the hippies could successfully evolve the communities that are needed today, although each of these earlier stages of consciousness has something to offer, especially with regard to their core values. Traditional cultures knew that we cannot survive without depending on one another. They could not see that the tribal proscriptions against outsiders unfortunately locked people in and out from the wider world. The modern nuclear family offered more flexibility of movement for small families as well as the ability to take a world-centric view of the needs of others. Unfortunately, the unbridled capitalism of modernity sanctioned extreme competitiveness and inequality. Post-modern consciousness went even further in valuing diversity and inclusiveness, but did not have the “chicken wire,” the scaffolding, the natural hierarchy necessary for community to develop beyond isolated experiments.
Thus, elders today see the need to develop new “integral” forms of community that include the positive elements offered by each of the preceding worldview’s forms of community and offer wider, higher and deeper perspectives that can enable communities and the individuals who participate in them to thrive and grow at ever-expanding levels.

By John Mariner,
Licensed Clinical Social Worker

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