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Social Consciousness…

People acculturate normally into our respective societies thru family, peers, schools and nation. We tend to accept the broad systemic beliefs and behaviors of what we’ve observed, been taught and told.

These beliefs and attitudes are borne thru early formative psycho-social development. Basic identification with certain morals, values and ideals serve to determine how we later relate to and define social, political and psychological events. Thus is life…

Generally speaking, a child who suffers authoritative abuse and discipline and/or exceptional entitlement and privilege, tends to become an individually-oriented (self-centered) “moral” conservative.

Those who develop normally, graduate thru these early formative stages into a measure of social consciousness, that is, an identity as a part of a greater whole.

Chronic or acute abuse, including excessive discipline and punishment (or the threat thereof) can “fixate” one from the normal course of development. This can lead to dogmatic and bigoted attitudes, less tolerance for different behaviors, and perceiving new ideas for change as threatening.

The current accusations by self-identified ultra-conservatives that “liberals” are the true bigots, is revealingly an expression of transference and projection. Of course, reality is somewhat more complex in that one can be “conservative” in one area and quite “liberal” in another.

Moral stage development begins from shortly after birth, when one is naturally fixated on the self, feelings and needs. Excessive authoritarianism can arrest normal social development into the teens and even beyond.

Whereas accretional learning is the norm, a minority can also acquire change (knowledge and social identification) thru conversion experiences.

I had such conversion experience back in the summer of ’66. It contained hallucinogenic-like elements that would have probably been more familiar to a priest than myself, a secular humanist.

Those of a religious persuasion, would have been more comfortable with it as a form of epiphany. I had no such illusions.

Less than 10% of the general population is estimated to have ever undergone a conversion experience. They’re preceded by a period of intense emotional reflection and by one’s coming to a wall, as it were, in life.

They’re accompanied by an alternative behavior or model of thought that one adopts almost totally. Often, these are the opposite of one’s former beliefs.

There are two other factors that serve to define the conversion experience. One is that the profound change is a lasting one, usually for one’s lifetime. The other is the universality of the experience.

Research on the subject has found that individually-oriented personalities (those in part fixated at an earlier stage of development) define life as a rather solitary journey. A mature, more wholly developed personality, perceives existence as far more socially connected.

Genuine conversion experiences, as opposed to epiphanies, include this connection or universalization of the individual. It could have some theistic elements or be completely secular, but it always includes one’s meaningful connection and identification to some form of greater whole.

In my own example, it was a profound revelation to a social consciousness of most others throughout the world, indeed, throughout history. Today, the term 99% captures that identity.

No doubt that expression holds little actual meaning at the moment to many throughout American culturally-alienated society, but I’m convinced it can have a potentially profound future impact. It’s the cultural opposite of conservative and individual alienation.

Those who hold excessively to their individual identification, usually script their experience to a greater personal being, rather than a social connection. Religious or political fundamentalism is NOT an example to which I refer. In fact, it’s the opposite. One’s total “faith” and commitment to a “personal god” with a personal reward and punishment regimen is simply an extension of an earlier conservative (individual) pathological fixation.

I recall a time when I raced thru Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania back in ’74 visiting numerous preserves, Ngoro Ngoro Crater, Mt. Kilimanjaro, native villages, etc. When I came to the end of my journey, I realized that I had profoundly missed the point of the whole experience.

By racing thru it I had cheated myself of much of that journey. I realized that there is in fact no “destination” in life…it’s ALL a journey. This profoundly re-connected me back to my earlier conversion experience.

I suppose that if one is comforted by the dogma of religiosity, they can look forward to more “existence” to come. To me, that’s a fool’s errand…and a substantial loss of the gift we’ve already been given: Life and what we do with it.

I will take to my grave exactly what everyone who has ever lived takes: What we’ve created and leave behind.

If there is any meaning to life, over and above what we make of it, it’s what we contribute to our collective whole…

Dr. Publico

Category: Psychology
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