Self-Disclosure: Breaking Through Paradigm Defenses

Chapter 5 excerpts [and flowchart] from the outstanding publication, The Paradigm Conspiracy: Why Our Social Systems Violate Human Potential — And How We Can Change Them | 1998

by Christopher Largent and Denise Breton

Drawing from the success and wisdom of the Iroquois Peace Confederacy, twelve step recovery programs, and the poetry of Rumi, this book provides an analytical framework of our current social systems and presents suggestions for change that can ultimately result in an entire paradigm shift.
Chapter 5
Breaking Through Paradigm Defenses
Hearing the truth
Fifth of the Twelve Cycles of Truth,
the Iroquois Peace Confederacy Tradition
I honor those who try
to rid themselves of any lying,
who empty the self
and have only clear being there.



Covering soul loss.  Self-knowledge observes the paradigms we use to filter consciousness and focus our energies.  But self-knowledge also observes the price we pay for filtering reality as we do.  To focus on some energies, other energies get blocked.  That’s natural and necessary, even a good idea.
What’s not such a good idea is to decide that soul energies are the ones we need to block.  Yet that’s exactly what happens.  To fit into a control-paradigm family, school, church, peer group, workplace, or profession, we factor out our inner self.  Coping with the shame, humiliation, and trauma implanted by control-paradigm institutions takes precedence — and drives our souls into hiding; our inner being can endure only so much trampling.
When paradigm filters obscure our inner self to create an outer self that does the coping, the gap left inside grows into a chasm.  Wang Yang-ming, the sixteenth-century neo-Confucian teacher, put it succinctly: “With the true self, one lives; without it, one dies.”
At first we ignore soul loss.  When that doesn’t work, we keep problems a secret and pretend everything is okay.  Since we’re not sure what’s wrong, we cover to get by.  We devise stories — which we then live out — to shore up the outward image, while we search for something to fill the inner void.
Seeking without for what can only be found within, though, is the formula for compulsive behavior, since no amount of outward compensating can compensate.  We don’t feel connected with what’s meaningful.  Life seems empty, which, without our souls’ aliveness, it is.

Are we our filters?  The trouble intensifies when we forget the gold we are and instead identify with our paradigm filters.  We believe that to expose our filters is to expose ourselves; worse, to lose our filters is to lose ourselves.  Our filters are how we’ve survived.  We fuse with them, believing they’re all we’ve got.
Hindu philosophy describes our personality filters as vehicles for our souls.  They give us the tools to learn and evolve, but they have the same status as the cars we purchase and resell after we’re done with them.  Our paradigm-packaged, space-time-race-gender-culture personalities are vehicles, not who we are in our core.
Yet, given the traumas of coming into this world, we-our-souls forget this teensy distinction and come to identify with we-our-filters — the mask part of us that bears a name and carries a personal history filled with abuse and defenses.  It’s as if we identify with our armor rather than with the living person that the armor protects.
In this light, the rigidity that makes paradigm shifts traumatic turns out to be a fear reaction — fear of the emptiness and vulnerability we’d face if we didn’t have paradigm filters to fill in and protect us. Treating our inner lives as having little value — a strategy we’ve acquired from control systems — we build our paradigm’s filters into forts of invulnerability.


The best way to make our paradigm armor invulnerable is to make it invisible.  The cloaking shield of invisibility is the most potent defense, as Klingon, Romulan, and American defense engineers know.  What can’t be seen or detected can’t be shot down.  Invisible, our paradigms avoid the risk of attack.  We hide our paradigm’s filtering processes under acceptable cloaking devices — and many such covers will do the trick.

Staying within a group.  For example, one way to make paradigm filters invisible is to surround ourselves with people who share our set.  We align ourselves with groups that take the same paradigm for granted.  Surrounded by filter-familiars, ours blend in.  Paradigm filters stay invisible: “What filters?” “What’s a paradigm?”
As long as we remain within the group, our paradigm filters are safe.  No one questions them, since everyone shares the agenda of keeping them unchanged.  When paradigm issues do surface, it’s to reinforce how successful and right the group’s paradigm is.  The official lines get repeated and the catchphrases and shibboleths echoed.  To speak the language of a given paradigm isn’t to do paradigm reflection but to identify with a group whose strategy is to keep the paradigm in place.  Those who question it are soon out.
Small wonder cliques permeate paradigm-rigid societies — with each group accusing the others of being cultish.  The more researchers studied the religious cults that shocked everyone in the seventies, the more the paradigm-dogmatics — resembled what goes on in mainline churches, corporations, schools, universities, governments, labor unions, and nonprofits.  The strategy of keeping filters invisible under the cover of a group-shared paradigm turns out to be not aberrational behavior but the required norm.

When groups support growth.  Not that the support of a group-shared paradigm is all bad.  If we’re shifting to a new paradigm and letting go of the damaging filters, group support is exactly what we need.  Transitions of this magnitude aren’t easy.  We’re on new ground — and usually in systems that work hard to keep us as we were.
We also need the support of a group-shared paradigm if we’re exploring its full potential, as happens in scientific, therapeutic, creative, artistic, and spiritual communities.  Working with people of like mind takes us forward by leaps and bounds.  As we work with others synergetically, developments emerge greater than any one person can produce.
We also need support if we restructuring social systems, since we’re bucking the collective commitment to a particular paradigm.  Social change takes heavy lifting — more than one person can do alone.  Gandhi needed the Indian people to join in his strategy of nonviolent noncooperation with British rule, a major paradigm shift, for his efforts to have effect.
Whether group involvement supports filter evolution or filter fixedness, therefore, is a matter of paradigm development: what phase are we in?  As with the chick and eggshell, what supports paradigm evolution at one stage may stifle it at another.  It all depends on where we are — and how relatedness to a group either supports or hinders our paradigm-evolving process.

Compartmentalized.  Another way to keep paradigms invisible is to split our lives into compartments and to design paradigm filters for each box.  We divide our lives into love relationships, family, school, work, social circles, and church.  We divide our businesses into labor, management, staff, and customers.  We divide our governments into powerful, celebrated leaders and powerless nameless citizens, into liberals, conservatives, and radicals on both ends, or into clout-carrying PACs (political action committees) and the cloutless masses.  We divide our professions into experts and clients, doctors and patients, know-it-alls and know-nothings, perfect ones and sickies.  We divide our minds into reason and emotions, money making and family values.  We divide our culture into sciences and humanities — and within each a dizzying number of specialized fields.  And we divide reality into spirit and matter, mind and body, positive and negative, God and humanity, inner and outer, spirituality and “the real world.”
By splitting our world into separate pieces, we protect the paradigm filters we use for each bit.  Soul has nothing to do with economics.  Spirituality has no relation to government.  In a fixed area, certain paradigm filters apply, and we don’t mix them with filters we use for another box.  That way, we never have to ask how it all adds up; it just doesn’t.  No one expects it to.
We don’t ask, for example, whether the values we use at work are the values we’d like our children to live at home.  If we’re management, we can’t be bothered with the filters of labor.  If we’re scientists, we don’t have much time for humanities.  If we’re doctors, we pay little heed to the self-healing powers of clients.  Or if we adhere to one religion or political faction, we don’t want to hear about the views of another.
By putting walls between our filters, we protect our overall filter arrangement.  We avoid filter comparisons, which invariably bring our paradigm out into the open and subject it to revision.  As we mentioned in chapter 3, some of the greatest leaps in knowledge and art — cultural paradigms — occurred when two or more societies interacted.  Box-category thinking, valuable as it is for developing specialized knowledge, prevents this fertile exchange.  It forbids us even to attempt to integrate our filters with wider contexts, which paradigm evolution demands.  There’s no overall paradigm, we tell ourselves, which means our cultural paradigm stays offstage, invisible.

Open and objective.  Another way to keep paradigms hidden is to appear to be filter-free, as if we have no paradigm, no filters — and no covers for them either.  For decades, scientists hid their filters behind claims of objectivity: they weren’t using filters; they were unbiased observers.  Only when physicist Werner Heisenberg’s “uncertainty principle” suggested that scientists’ perspectives influence and even determine what they observe did scientists begin to acknowledge their filters and examine how they affected their findings.
Being “open” and “skeptical” are other ways of hiding paradigms we’re not keen to question.  Not that open-mindedness is the prime evil plaguing the globe.  Rather, sometimes claiming to be open is used as a strategy to make us appear paradigm-free, which guarantees that neither we nor anyone else has a chance to look at our filters.  By appearing to be oh-so big-minded, we keep our paradigm close to the chest and off-limits.
No matter how open we are, we’re not without paradigm equipment, nor is that desirable.  As long as we have bodies, minds, and a space-time awareness, we have filters.  As long as we live in control-paradigm systems, we have defenses.  We need them for protection.

Suffocating.  The trouble is, our paradigm covers work so effectively that they obscure our paradigm’s filters not only from others but from ourselves as well.  If we’re to evolve, we need to know what paradigm we’re using, so we can change it.  Defensive covers block this awareness.
How far will we go, though, to protect our paradigm?  What cost are we willing to pay to keep it in place?  Would we rather die than change it?  That’s the danger.  Like a chick trapped inside a shell it can’t break, we can suffocate inside an outgrown paradigm — and in the groups that share it, especially if they’ve raised us, paid our salaries, or promised love, security, prestige, meaning, and salvation as long as we stay committed to them.  Taking chances and pecking through doesn’t sound attractive, even though we suspect the shell is what’s smothering us.  The more afraid we get, the more fervently we try to make life in the shell work.
And why should pecking through sound attractive?  Being inside the shell is what we know.  We’ve learned how to adjust.  Like the chick, we haven’t a clue about life outside.  Our filters have shielded us.  It’s hard to imagine that they may now be killing us.
Shifting paradigms is scary.  No wonder our strategies for keeping paradigms in place are more developed than our strategies for changing them.


System filters.  The same paradigm-protective dynamics occur in systems.  Like individuals, systems need paradigm to do their jobs.  Paradigms organize a shared activity, whether it’s education, spiritual pursuits, doing business, or running a town or nation.  They coordinate the energies of everyone involved by giving them an overall view — a framework of ideas, concepts, and values.  This framework then translates into specifics: methods, policies, roles, strategies, structures, and goals.  The paradigm has a track record of working, at least by paradigm-defined standards.
If they’re serving us well, for instance, paradigm filters of religion screen out separateness and intolerance, so we can see our lives whole and connected; business filters screen out greed, so we can manage our human household wisely (the original meaning of economy); school filters screen out fears of inadequacy, so we can tap the treasures of our minds, and government filters out power-grabbing and exploitation, so we can build a just, fair, and free world together.

Off-limits and invisible.  Somehow, though, our social paradigm filters aren’t working this way.  To paraphrase from Paul’s letter to the Romans, they’re filtering out what they should let through and letting through what they should filter out.
Yet getting at our systems’ filtering paradigm and changing it is no small task.  System filters, orchestrated by the control paradigm, have their ways of staying off-limits.  Many of the most soul-damaging control filters — such as the win-lose competition filter that dominates school and business, or the power-over filter that creates heavy-handed hierarchies in families, religions, the military, law enforcement agencies, and corporations — go unquestioned, even by otherwise change-oriented people.  We take the filters and the paradigm behind them for granted.  We’ll fire people and hire new ones, spend money by the billions, conduct studies and form committees, yet not question the core paradigm creating our social structures.
Changing actors in bad plays won’t make the plays better; we have to rewrite the scripts.  But that’s hard to do when the scripts are functionally invisible.  How do the cloaking devices become so effective?
As with personal paradigms, system paradigms enjoy invisibility as their best defense against change.  Systems use many covers to hide their paradigm filters, but one strategy beats all for blocking filter-awareness: taboos.


Societies’ most potent cloaking devices for its paradigm are its taboos: the questions we dare not raise, the things we dare not do, and the ways we dare not think.  Obeying taboos, we pretend that aspects of our lives don’t exist.  Problems aren’t problems, and obvious sources of trouble remain off-limits; we never speak of them.  We let our systems throw walls of silence around us, so neither we nor they are threatened by hearing the truth about what we’re experiencing.

Taboos about sex.  From the Puritans’ version of Christianity, for example, we inherit taboos about sex.  As H. L. Mencken observed, puritanism, is “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”  Because we’re not as committed to perpetuating puritanism as we were several hundred years ago, we’re examining and changing these taboos.
For instance, even talking about sex (yes, we almost didn’t write this section, because there’s a taboo about that too) makes people uncomfortable, but the taboos go way beyond that.  Everyone knows that sex is pleasurable, but no one’s supposed to experience it (except Mae West and Marilyn Monroe).  Men are supposed to have sex only to satisfy their “drives,” while women are only supposed to do it to have children.  Neither is really allowed to feel the pleasure of the experience (good women don’t enjoy it, and real men don’t have feelings).
Gender-specific taboos even invade our most private practices, though many of these are being changed: men aren’t supposed to get involved in intimacies (cuddling and all that); women aren’t supposed to be on top, men aren’t supposed to touch each other except for athletic slaps; women aren’t supposed to initiate sexual activity; neither men nor women are supposed to touch themselves, except for bathing, and you’d better be quick about that.
Significantly for a patriarchal society, more taboos exist for women than for men.  Women aren’t supposed to have more than one partner, for example, even if they’re not married, while the opposite is encouraged in men, even if they are.  Older men may team up with younger women, but older women aren’t supposed to go for younger men.  It’s more okay for men to talk about sex — especially using specific language or slang — than it is for women.
And everyone who has a sexual experience is programmed to experience guilt and shame afterwards.
That’s the control paradigm in force — and invisible.  We’re too absorbed in fulfilling gender roles or feeling guilty to reflect on the paradigm that sets us up to feel these things.  We think it’s us, and taboos keep it that way.  They make us controllable.

Taboos about feelings.  Another paradigm-protective taboo makes our feelings off-limits in social systems.  In family systems, for instance, we learn to stifle “unacceptable” feelings and feel guilty for having them.  In school systems, we learn to get tough and hide how we feel, whether it’s fear of tests, shame in competition, or joy in learning.  Blase’ cool is the way to survive school, with emotions tucked safely away.  At work and in professions, feelings have no place.  The most professional-looking expert is the one most “in control” of his or her emotions, therefore apparently least emotionally involved.  Even the words emotion and emotional have negative connotations.  To say someone is being emotional more or less discredits what the person says.
Factoring out our emotions is convenient for control-paradigm systems.  If we’re cut off from how we feel when we’re being dominated or shamed, we’ll tolerate it more readily.  And we’ll learn to disregard the pain we feel when we witness control-system abuse to others.  We’ll flee into our heads, where the control paradigm feeds us with rationalizations, judgments, and ultimata — “Things must be done this way, or chaos follows.”

Science taboos.  From science, we’ve inherited a host of taboos about what’s real and what’s not, what we can talk about “intelligently” and what’s superstitious or pseudoscience.  In general, the rule is this: If you can measure something, manipulate it, predict its functionings, and then replicate it — i.e., control the outcome of experiments on it — it’s scientific and real; if not, it’s imagination or illusion.
We accept this approach to science because it gives us some measure of control over our environment.  Yet there’s the rub.  The strategy reduces knowledge to control.  We think that knowing something means being able to control it — control-paradigm epistemology.  Given the authority we grant science, we don’t question this strategy, even though it discounts mountains of observed but nonreproducible — therefore “anecdotal” — evidence.

Science taboos: Their wider impact.  But defining knowledge in terms of control raises questions.  To take some practical ones first, what kind of control does control science give us?  Control-paradigm science inevitably disregards wider contexts, because wider contexts aren’t easily controlled.  To gain control, scientists eliminate variables and constrict the field.  In fact, early in their schooling, scientists learn to think in narrowly focused ways and to disregard broader contexts.  The most defensible Ph.D. thesis is the most specialized one.
When we act on control knowledge, as we do in devising technologies, we act on highly focused information — information that has eliminated broader-context considerations.  Using narrowed control-think to create all our modern goodies, we find ourselves faced with wider-context messes.  Yes, aspirin can help with heart disease, but it can also cause bleeding stomach ulcers.  Yes, combustion engines move us around, but hey pollute like crazy.  Yes, we can invent super-poisons for pesticides, but we end up ingesting the stuff, while mutant bugs use it for seasoning.
As long as the immediate control objective is achieved, though, control-paradigm science doesn’t worry about the larger impact.  No wonder we’re stuck with radioactive toxic waste that has a half-life of several million years and traveling clouds of acid raid that kill forests.  As we discovered on a trip to eastern Canada, seeing trees — entire forests — sick and dying from the top down can ruin your whole vacation.
It’s no good using the dodge that science operates apart from technology — that the endeavor of science is unrelated to its technical, commercial applications.  Who funds scientific research in universities?  Who decides which projects receive grants and which don’t?  It’s not the Good Fairy — or science in the public interest.  If the same money went into researching alternative energy sources, for instance, as gushes into developing new oil fields, new uses for petroleum by-products. . .our economy wouldn’t be fossil-fuel dependent, our environment wouldn’t be choking with petroleum fumes and discarded plastics, and our knowledge of energy wouldn’t be stalled with burning things — caveman science.
Thanks to taboos protecting control science, though, we buy the dodge.  Science is pure intellectual activity, unaffected by economic or political forces, and we’re the Easter Bunny.  Fantasy for fantasy, ours is less dangerous.

Science taboos: Ethics and values.  The taboos that insulate control science from its impact on society also hide its values.  The directions that science and technology take involve decisions based on values — control values.  Nonetheless, taboos place science above ethics.  In other words, control-science taboos hide its decision-making processes and the values that guide them.
These values and decisions affect the course of science.  The fact that some scientific research gets screened out while other research receives both funding and publication is attributed to the natural course of scientific development, as if there’s no paradigm-based filtering going on.
Our experience in several universities showed us exactly what Vine Deloria Jr. described earlier: the “experts” who dominate the field also dominate the direction and limits of research.  They give their positions at conferences, where reputations may be made or broken, and they edit the journals.  If someone steps outside the experts’ prevailing paradigm, the step had better not be too great — or his or her reputation and publishing career (a “must” for tenure) is at stake.
Even more telling, though, is the funding of research by industry.  Because the college and the science department as well as the researcher get money, there’s an unspoken but real incentive to present projects that support the agenda of work being done in various industries.  Historian of science Robert Proctor documents this process in Cancer Wars: How Politics Shapes What We Can and Can’t Know About Cancer.  Proctor details how combinations of industrial, academic, and political interests influence — even control — what should otherwise be open scientific research to save lives.

Science taboos: Accepted practices.  Control-science decisions affect not only the direction of research but also how knowledge is applied.  As long as some practice is labelled “scientific,” we’re hesitant to ask whether it’s wise or cruel.  The status of “accepted scientific opinion” is often enough to put a the theory along with its applications beyond moral question.

Example: Babies and birth.  Accepted scientific opinion has long held, for instance, that babies have primitively developed nervous systems and can’t register pain.  Accordingly, doctors routinely perform painful tests and surgery on screaming infants without anesthesia.  “They’re just screaming to exercise their lungs,” we’re supposed to believe, not because the needles are going into them — and fresh out of that warm, safe, mostly needle-free womb.
Through hypnosis we now know the pain and anger such “scientific” practices produced.  If we walked up to someone on the street and lopped off a body part, we’d land in jail.  If an obstetrician does it to a baby boy — again without anesthesia — he gets paid.  What message does this send to baby boys about the world they’re entering?  How safe and protected are they going to feel when this experience meets them right off the bat?
In Babies Remember Birth — a fascinating book exploring the consciousness that babies bring into the world — psychologist and hypnotherapist David Chamberlain discovered that babies are most annoyed at being treated like objects to be poked and prodded rather than as intelligent, conscious beings.  Chamberlain writes:

A ringing declaration of infant intelligence ends the report [of the birth experience], as Deborah compares her knowledge with that of the hospital staff. Saying that she was more aware of being a mind than a person, she speaks of feeling intelligent and explains why. She decided she was more intelligent than those caring for her, because she knew the real situation inside while they seemed to know only the outside. She was also superior in being able to receive their messages while they were unable to receive hers…
In Deborah’s own words:
I felt I knew a lot — I really did. I thought I was pretty intelligent. I never thought about being a person, just a mind. I thought I was an intelligent mind…
They seemed to ignore me. They were doing things to me — to the inside of me. But they acted like that’s all there was. When I tried to tell them things, they just wouldn’t listen, like that noise [her crying] wasn’t really anything. It didn’t sound to impressive, but it was all I had.
I just really felt like I was more intelligent than they were.”

Science taboos: Philosophy and consciousness.   But consciousness, certainly infant consciousness, has no place in the official worldview of science, and taboos keep it that way.  Taboos hide how control-paradigm science affects our overall philosophy.  Because of taboos, we don’t ask whether physical observation, quantification, and control under laboratory conditions are adequate for understanding the universe, including ourselves — or babies.
Yet questions persist: If we can’t measure or control something, does that mean we can’t know it?  Does it give us grounds to act as if it doesn’t exist?  Even if we seem to control something, do we know all there is to know about it?
By making noncontrollable aspects of life off-limits — outside the domain of scientific inquiry — the taboos of science ignore many realities, but most of all, consciousness.  Only when scientists figure out a way to reduce consciousness to observable, measurable, and controllable behavior are they allowed to study it.  By that time, though, what they study is boring and sheds no light on the complexities that conscious beings face.  We have to wonder why we buy a paradigm of knowledge that’s incapable of dealing with the most significant aspect of human life.
Consciousness isn’t exactly peripheral to us.  Yet the dominant paradigm of knowledge places consciousness research off-limits.  Intuition, inner advisors, synchronicity, spiritual seeking, the quest for meaning, healing, transformation, near-death experiences, soul work, mythic consciousness, microcosm/macrocosm connectedness and the symbol systems, such as astrology or the I Ching, that explore it are called hokum and nonsense.  No self-respecting scientist would be caught dead investigating them, certainly not if he or she taught at a university and were up for tenure.

Science taboos: The nonordinary.  One of the most powerful ways taboos shut down open inquiry is to ridicule those who step outside the official scientific-opinion.  If something doesn’t fit control-paradigm science, the phenomenon is dismissed as nonexistent, and the people who persist in speaking about it are dismissed as crackpots….
There are a few taboos of science — taboos that protect the dominant paradigm we use to gain knowledge.

Taboos at work.  [W]ork life is fraught with taboos — and for the clear purpose of keeping the control paradigm invisible and unchanged.  Employees dare not speak out when their company acts illegally, exploits the community, or damages the environment.  Neither may they discuss ways in which the workplace functions abusively.  On policy, procedure, scheduling, and operations, people aren’t free to speak their minds to “superiors” — not without risking a lower performance rating, cut in salary, or loss of job.  As Anne Wilson Schaef and Diane Fassel show in The Addictive Organization, to air concerns is to be disloyal.
Yet taboos cripple business effectiveness.  The more information flows freely, the more people base business decisions on a big picture of what’s going on.  When taboos shut down this flow of communication, managers are in the position of a barge captain trying to negotiate the shoals of the Mississippi with no dials working.  It’s astonishing how out of touch managers can be with the people they manage.  Yet it’s logical within a control paradigm of management: in a control hierarchy, information flows down, not up.  Even when the control model is failing, taboos prevent people from saying so.

Taboos about addictions and abuse.  As the recovery literature documents, heavy taboos surround addictions and abuse — again, for paradigm-defense reasons.  If we admit that the paradigm behind our social systems is driving us to self-destructive behavior, we’d be forced to question it.  It’s easier to pretend nothing is wrong with our social systems or their paradigm; it’s just a few people who can’t cut it.  No, addiction is not a global epidemic — or, as Shakespeare put it, “This is not my nose neither.”
Studies indicate that 88 million Americans are chemically dependent or in a relationship with someone who is, 50 million smoke, 12 million chew tobacco, and 37 million have a food addiction.  One out of every four families suffer from alcohol- or drug-related problems.  That doesn’t count people suffering from the emotional trauma of dysfunctional families.  Yet taboos forbid us to deal with these experiences openly or to consider how they’re affecting our adult behavior, from intimacy to parenting to professional conduct to national policy.
In the case of President Lyndon Johnson, for instance, Johnson’s mother wanted him to excel where her husband did not.  When young Lyndon got A’s at school, she praised and rewarded him, even by inviting him to sleep in her bed.  When he misbehaved or got less than A’s, she refused even to acknowledge his presence and would talk about him as if he weren’t there — even as if he were dead.  The message was clear: if you don’t excel, you don’t exist.  Decades later, President Johnson couldn’t admit that Vietnam was a no-win war, even when his advisors told him.  He said he refused to be the first American president to lose a war.  His decision reflected not political realities but childhood programming.

Taboos against having problems.  In fact, having problems at all is taboo, because it suggests failure — “real men don’t have problems,” or if they do, they certainly don’t talk about them.  When we’re in systems, we’re expected to pretend everything is okay.  If problems do arise, they’re ours, not the system’s, certainly not the paradigm’s.  Again, if we’re in pain as a result of living in systems, something must be wrong with us.
In other words, taboos present system paradigms, but they don’t protect the people within the systems.  They don’t help us cope with the realities of our own lives.


“Defensive routines.”  An excellent analysis of both how paradigm defenses work and how to disarm them comes from the two team-learning consultants in business management, Harvard’s Chris Argyris and MIT’s Peter Senge, who describe “defensive routines” as major obstacles to learning in corporate and business systems.  “We trap ourselves,” say Argyris and his colleagues, “in ‘defensive routines’ that insulate our mental models [paradigms] from examination.”  In The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge explains:

Defensive routines…are entrenched habits we use to protect ourselves from the embarrassment and threats that come with exposing our thinking.  Defensive routines form a sort of protective shell around our deepest assumptions, defending us against pain, but also keeping us from learning about the causes of pain.  The source of defensive routines, according to Argyris, is…fear of exposing the thinking that lies behind our views….  For most of us, exposing our reasoning is threatening because we are afraid that people will find error in it.  The perceived threat from exposing our thinking starts early in life and, for most of us, is steadily reinforced in school — remember the trauma of being called on and not having the “right answer” — and later in work.

Defensive routines block transformation.  Since defensive routines don’t let us inside our paradigm’s castle, we can’t get to the paradigm filters where change is most needed.  As a result, defensive routines block learning — and real solutions.  “‘The paradox,’ writes Argyris, ‘is that when [defensive routines] succeed in preventing immediate pain, they also prevent us from learning how to reduce what causes the pain in the first place.'”  We stay within pain-making structures, trying to avoid the pain those very structures create.
Defensive routines also block communication.  We develop rapport when we share which paradigm filters we’re using.  Our filters don’t have to be the same; we just need to know the filters at work in a relationship.  Then mutual understanding grows.  But when one person hides his or her paradigm, other parties do it too.  Defensive routines are contagious.  Once defensive postures start, they spread.  Up goes the armor.
Trickiest of all, defensive routines are “self-sealing,” to use Argyris’s term.  Not only do they hide paradigms, but they hide their own existence as well — the invisibility trick again.  To both hide our paradigm and be psychologically correct, we fall back on the openness cover.  We want to seem open and candid, so we work hard at appearing that way.  But this simply pushes paradigm defenses deeper, as we pretend that neither our paradigms nor covers for them exist.  If we subjected either to examination, we’d risk having to restructure them — exactly what a paradigm shift requires.


Lies, secrets, and cover-ups.  By hiding the paradigm that lies at the root of problems, defensive routines allow situations to get worse.  They don’t let concerns or confusions surface, even though these may be the key to a breakthrough.  Instead of helping us deal with realities, defensive covers divert our energies into preserving masks and images.
By so doing, defensive routines force us to live a lie — not to be honest about what’s happening.  It’s not that we’re intentionally dishonest; it’s rather that, as long as we’re participating in a control system, we’re simply not at liberty to speak openly about what we’re experiencing.
When taboos forbid us to speak our truth, our lives alone and together get “zippered shut with secrecy,” to use journalist Jonathan Vankin’s phrase, leaving us vulnerable to “secrecy’s chief weapon, propaganda.”  At home and at work, at school and on the news, we’re lobbied into believing the official line that justifies control-paradigm systems.  Our family, educational, economic, social, political, and religious institutions are basically fine.  All we need to do is get rid of the bad people — lock them up, kill them, or drug them until they fit the norm.  Then our systems would work.
But our systems don’t work, no matter how many people we drug, lock up, or kill.  Instead, a chasm of silence comes between us and system realities.  That’s not good.  “The more taboos there are in the empire,” the Tao Te Ching says, “the poorer the people.”  If the recovery movement did nothing more than show how destructive lies, secrets, and covers are, its service would be immeasurable.
In Healing the Shame That Binds You, John Bradshaw says, “Families are as sick as their secrets” — a truth that applies to any social system.  Defensive covers obstruct our quest to find what’s real about ourselves and our systems, while defenses hide our paradigms so well that not even we can get at them.  What we can’t discuss, we can’t change.  Or as John Bradshaw puts it, “We cannot heal what we cannot feel.”

The toll of the defenses.  Whereas lying was one filter among many in the last chapter, it’s the one to tackle here.  Lying is how we get trapped in our own defenses.  Whenever we invent a story to cover, we make matters worse — in many ways.
For one thing, lies obscure self-knowledge.  Screening what others know of us, we end up screening what we know of ourselves.  Defensive shields come between us and our own reality as we start believing the half-truths we put out.
Lack of self-knowledge is as devastating for companies, churches, schools, and nations as it is for us personally.  Within systems, we need to know where we are — what’s working and what isn’t, what we’re feeling and what others are feeling as well — in order to plan the next step.  We can’t pretend things are okay if they’re not.  As we’ve found with the national debt and the crisis in health care, hidden problems are the most dangerous.  They grow in silence, until they’re so overwhelming we don’t know where to begin to solve them.
Lie defenses are also harmful because they consume our energies, diverting them from where we need them most.  Whether we’re in business or in a marriage, we need to focus on what’s real in the relationship: a real product or service or a real self that’s present with the other.  Defensive covers make this difficult.  Unaware of our filters, we put energy into preserving covers rather than into dealing with real issues.  We create a life that’s more role than intimacy, more image than substance.
In the Exxon Valdez oil spill, for instance, energies poured into damage control for corporate images but trickled into damage control for Prince William Sound.  In the first few critical hours, little energy was spent on actually plugging the leak in the tanker’s hull or containing the spill.  Salvaging government and oil-conglomerate images by using lies and half-truths took precedence.  As with President Johnson’s inability to admit that the Vietnam War couldn’t be won, the compulsion to maintain an on-top-of-it image eclipsed his ability to cope with reality in a situation that was causing more death and suffering day by day.
Paradigm defenses act like guard dogs at the door of our paradigm’s castle.  Their assignment is to protect the model-in-charge at all costs.  Until we disarm the defenses, we can’t get inside.  We can’t explore our paradigm or what it’s doing to us and our systems.  The roots of addictive personal behavior and of soul-violating social structures stay off-limits — as does our real being.


Facing the worst-case scenario makes covers superfluous.  Recovery breaks through defenses, and in a simple, straightforward way.  We create a space to hear the truth about ourselves, our systems, and the paradigms that shape both.
AA’s Fifth Step does this by admitting “to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”  Admitting wrongs pushes defensive covers way back, because it tackles the worst-case scenario — what we most fear — namely, being exposed for our mistakes.
If it’s okay to be wrong, we don’t have to hide or cover.  Openly admitting the abusive patterns that a paradigm creates — patterns we’ve participated in and perpetuated ourselves — we no longer need to mount a defense.  We can disclose our paradigm filters and get on with evolving them.
With this strategy shift, we’re out of the defense business and free to focus on  the realities at hand.  By facing our worst fears about being exposed, dealing with our paradigm openly, and being up-front about what’s happening, we dispense with energy-draining covers and attend to the real job: transformation.

Accessing our paradigm-shifting powers.  By so doing, we tap hidden resources of knowledge and growth.  Our willingness to confront what’s wrong opens us to our paradigm-shifting powers.  We see how wrongs get started on a paradigm level, and this insight gets us going on the path of changing paradigms.
Tarthang Tulku explains: “Because our problems are often painful and disturbing, our natural tendency is to try to avoid them; we seek ways to get out of difficult situations, or to go around the obstacles we encounter.  But our problems are like clouds: though they appear to disturb the serenity of a clear sky, they contain life-giving moisture that nourishes growth.  When we face our problems directly and go through them, we discover new ways of being.”

Breaking through defensive routines: self-disclosure.  Argyris and Senge agree.  The remedy for paradigm covers is self-disclosure: admitting what’s bothering us, discussing our defenses, and bringing both our paradigms and their defenses out into the open.  As Senge notes, “To retain their power, defensive routines must remain undiscussable.  Teams stay stuck in their defensive routines only when they pretend that they don’t have any defensive routines, that everything is all right, and that they can say ‘anything.'”
Self-disclosure breaks the hold that defensive covers have on us.  When we admit our defensive habits, they no longer block our growth.  Breaking the rule of secrecy and paradigm-protective taboos, we allow our paradigms to surface and our covers to dissipate.  Issues start bubbling up that carry us forward in confronting what’s really going on.  In addition, we have the energy — liberated from the enervating job of maintaining covers — to go forward.

Learning from defensive patterns.  With a strategy of self-disclosure, we expose our defenses and find out why they’re there.  We can’t get rid of our protective armor all at once.  We have defenses because we need them now, or we needed them in the past, or we think we need them even if we don’t.  Through self-disclosure, we begin to sort this out.  We admit exactly what our defenses are doing for us.
In most cases, identifying defensive covers takes us to the heart of what’s obstructing paradigm evolution.  We’ve stumbled on a mother lode of blocked energy and potential awareness.  What we’re most defensive about is often what we’re most quickly outgrowing.  However, we may not realize it or perhaps we’re not ready to face the consequences of such a shift.  Even so, the same defenses that block us can direct us to our deepest insights — the very idea-shifts that we’re most primed to make.  Again from Senge:

Defensive routines can become a surprising ally…by providing a signal when learning is not occurring.  Most of us know when we are being defensive, even if we cannot fully identify the source or pattern of our defensiveness….  When we are feeling defensive, seeking to avoid an issue, thinking we need to protect someone or ourselves — these are tangible signals that can be used to reestablish a climate of learning….  Often, the stronger the defensiveness, the more important the issue around which people are defending or protecting their views.

In the body, sore points indicate where physical energy is blocked.  In the psyche, defensive covers indicate sore points where soul energy is trapped.  In social systems, defensive patterns indicate where human energy is dammed up.
Self-disclosure unbottles the energy.  Naming defenses as such and looking behind them to the dynamics of our inner growth loosens blocked awareness and lets this awareness operate as a force for transformation.  Core issues surface, and we start working through them.


Commitment to truth.  A commitment to self-disclosure is a commitment to hearing the truth, which is by nature transforming.  Whereas lies, covers, and taboos limit us to existing paradigm filters, admitting what’s going on opens us to learning about reality and to evolving the paradigms we use to move with it.  Senge describes this commitment in practice:

Commitment to the truth…means a relentless willingness to root out the ways we limit or deceive ourselves from seeing what is, and to continually challenge our theories of why things are they way they are.  It means continually broadening our awareness, just as the great athlete with extraordinary peripheral vision keeps trying to “see more of the playing field.”  It also means continually deepening our understanding of the structures underlying current events.

Initiating self-disclosure.  When it comes to breaking through paradigm defenses, a strategy of self-disclosure starts with individuals and spreads out.  If we’re caught in defenses together — if our paradigm filters are so hidden that we can’t find out why our systems are behaving abusively — the way to break through the barriers is shared self-disclosure.
To start, we ask ourselves why we’re defending our systems as they now function, which relates to why we’re part of them in the first place.  We admit how we behave when we’re in a family or school system, for instance, and how we feel about how the paradigms behind systems lead us to think, feel, and act.  That’s the beginning — the strategy that gets the momentum of self-disclosure going.
Where else can we start?  Accusing others in the name of self-disclosure doesn’t work.  Charging others with being defensive brings their defenses out in force.  By contrast, admitting our feelings, confusions, fears, and defenses breaks the pattern.  By relaxing our defensive boundaries, we create space for others to join in and explore what’s going on.
Our story is one telling of our system’s story.  It’s also one telling of a culturally pervasive paradigm.  We’re a microcosm of the macrocosm.  As we share our stories, the system and paradigm no longer remain hidden.
We exchange our stories not to undermine systems but to evolve the paradigms behind them, so that our systems become better servants to human needs.  That’s why we have social systems in the first place.  If we’re not functioning happily in systems, systems can’t function optimally either.  We’re like canaries taken down into coal mines; if we’re not thriving, our systems can’t be either.  The more we’re honest about how we’re experiencing systems — the more we provide the feedback they need — the more our paradigms and systems evolve.

Gandhi: An open experiment with Truth.  Gandhi was a master of removing defenses as a strategy for transforming social systems.  To start, he used the strategy on himself.  Much of his force as a spiritual and political leader came from his commitment to self-disclosure.  British spies could learn nothing that he would not openly admit.  Even his most personal wrestlings with “brahmacharya,” or purifying self-discipline, we made public.  He called his life “an experiment with Truth” — an experiment he conducted in the open.
But he also encouraged the Indian people to let down their defenses and to admit their wrongs as well.  As Gandhi saw it, self-government is inseparable from self-purification.  Otherwise, we’re ruled by our shortcomings.  Self-purification starts with self-disclosure — admitting exactly what needs correction.  Gandhi wrote:

I have always been loathe to hide…the weak points of the community, or to press for its rights without having purged it of its blemishes…I am not interested in freeing India merely from the English yoke.  I am bent upon freeing India from any yoke whatsoever….  Hence for me the movement of Swaraj [self-rule] is a movement of self-purification.  It is we ourselves with our inertia, apathy and social abuse that more than England or anybody else block our way to freedom.  And if we cleanse ourselves of our shortcomings and faults, no power on earth can even for a moment withhold Swaraj from us.

Lincoln: Admitting America’s wrongs.  Hearing the truth about collective wrongs is liberating.  We can’t stop soul-violation until we stop defending it.  In his famous second inaugural address, for instance, Abraham Lincoln openly admitted the “offence” of “American slavery” and acknowledged the inevitability of paying the price for such an inhuman, institutionalized evil.
Defending the indefensible, Lincoln reasoned, locks us on the same level as the offense.  Withdrawing our defenses, admitting wrongs, and hearing the truth liberates us to move beyond both a soul-violating paradigm and the soul-violating systems it creates.
Lincoln and Gandhi did for their nations what system recovery suggests we do for ours today: face abusive paradigms, name how they build abuse into our social structures, and end the defenses, lies, and cover-ups.  With paradigm defenses out in the open, we’re free to evaluate the paradigm behind our systems and get on with a paradigm shift.



“This book is a must read for anyone who values family and freedom.” ~ Russell Means, activist, actor, and co-author of Where White Men Fear To Tread
“A comprehensive survey of the changing paradigm and the need to increase the rate of change.  We can only hope that we will find ourselves on the positive side of the tidal wave that now confronts us. There is a synthesis here that we need to understand — and support — if we are to survive.” ~ Vino Deloria, Jr., professor of history, religious studies, and law, University of Colorado, Boulder, and author of Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto and Red Earth, White Lies: Native Americans and the Myth of Scientific Fact
Chapter 5 excerpts [and flowchart] from the outstanding publication, The Paradigm Conspiracy: Why Our Social Systems Violate Human Potential — And How We Can Change Them | 1998
by Christopher Largent and Denise Breton

The Values of Survival

A TRC exclusive, by Christoper Weller
Inspired by the address from Chief Oren Lyons to the UN,
about the seventh generation


Syllogism –

1. A deductive scheme of formal argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion;

2. A subtle, specious, or crafty argument;

3. Reasoning from the general to the specific; deduction.

The world is at the brink of collapse, and those around us seem unaware of the pending doom on the horizon.  They play out the story of civilization even in its final chapter.  Their very lives are at stake and the survival of the human species, yet they make no effort to stray from the path of self-destruction.  Some have called this a “death urge” at play, where, as Freud mused, the human mind has an equal drive toward death as it does for an Eros to live, to survive.  It is this “death instinct,” so says Freud and his contemporaries, that is kept in check by the dominant culture, civilization – as if the superego is inherently aggressive and violent, and it is only the “civilized” way of life that controls this innate drive.

Freud, and his followers and contemporaries, surely were, and still are, a product of civilization itself, trapped in this sacred bubble of interpretation of the world – a perspective that is failing, along with what created it – civilization itself.  But, we can at least agree that what keeps the human mind in check when dealing with the forces of change are the cultural norms, mores, and taboos enlisted by civilization, and it is no wonder the death urge in society is seemingly continuing to strengthen as the pillars of industrial civilization begin to crumble at our feet.  This may be indeed why, to those of us in the Transition Culture, the rest of humanity seems deranged into this silent, subconscious drive toward self-destruction.

What is included in these cultural norms that the proponents of the “death urge” postulate from, is the perception of what the values of the culture entail.  In the culture of civilization, the element that supposedly keeps the death urge at bay is how it interprets what it means to live.  This is fully represented in how the dominant culture expresses its values.  What is found is that the values of civilization take on a totally different meaning than what a living, thinking species such as the human should adapt to at all.  And, with the dominant culture in charge of our fate today, the values of consumption, acquisition, competition, and greed drive our desires toward a state of living that we are told is the best there is or ever will be.  We are fed the lies of what value means, and we believe them.

However, as anyone with an inkling of cultural anthropology would be aware of, what one values in the process of life and living is relative to any culture, whether “civilized” or indigenous.  And, what society is experiencing today is that the “values” defined by the dominant culture – the values of Globalization, Capitalism, Consumerism, Infinite Growth-Based Economics, various religions, and etc. – are beginning to collapse.  They are destroying our world, our planet, our ability to survive, and our souls.  They have steered us in the direction of death itself.

Thus, many of us are faced with the paradoxical dilemma best expressed by the mantra:

“To value change or change our values.”

This can form a puzzling thought, equal in perplexity to its derived mantra – are we in need of a “value change for survival?”

Trapped in the captivity of our “civilized” thought, we can indeed struggle with this dilemma, and it will seem as an unsolvable paradox.  But, we can certainly agree that the longer we puzzle over the solution, the closer we come to oblivion, and it’s time that someone try to solve this beleaguering riddle.

The first step in this deduction is to realize that values evolve, whether the dominant culture can admit it or not – and, like evolution, cultural norms, mores, taboos, and etc. must “work” to exist.  Such as with biological evolution, if traits do not “work,” such as the traits of an organism, they won’t exist for very long, and certainly won’t be around for us to study.  Even if we try to contemplate a trait that could exist, in our formulations of our ideas, it must “work” to exist in rational thought.

Most of us in the Transition Culture are aware that the dominant “values” of today are not working.  And to survive at all, they too must “evolve.”  Thus, we can conclude that:

 ”to evolve“ = ”to change

Therefore, it is obvious that the dominant values must change.  But change to what?

What “traits” of values must be carried over through the Great Transition and what must be thrown out for survival, keeping in mind that “survival” really means “it works” (for at least a certain period of time until symbiosis is lost, the environment changes, or carrying capacity of the ecosystem is surpassed).  So, it can also be concluded that:

survival” = “it works

Contrary to the Darwinists & Neo-Darwinist evolutionary biologists, along with the contemporary “religion” known as “genetic determinism,” the idea of “survival of the fittest,” the “selfish gene” hypothesis of Richard Dawkins and company, or any other of the derived “competition-for-survival” models, growing evidence is showing that these ideas are not congruent with the true nature or broad function of evolution and species survival.  Evidence points more often to a symbiotic relationship of life with other life and the environment, rather than a competition, “selfish genes,” or determinism.

What has been found is that the primary force which “determines” survival, change, or if the species “works” is symbiosis of the species with its surroundings.  This includes other species, the physical environment, or even “endosymbiotic” relationships; where species have a relationship with other species living and surviving, changing and evolving together inside other species or inside the cells of those species.  There are indeed moments in the evolutionary process of what Steven J. Gould called “punctuated equilibria,” but the moment this “equilibrium” is achieved, symbiosis takes over once again, throughout the remainder of the extent of the existence of the species on this planet.

Thus, we can conclude that if values must “change” for our survival, they must change using this model that true evolution follows – But why?  It is because we can now conclude that:

survival” = “to live” = “to change” =“to evolve” = “symbiosis” = “it works


This is because for us to survive, means for us to live.  And, living involves changing, which means evolving.  And, to evolve means to have symbiosis.  To have symbiosis means it works.

Symbiosis, both inner and outer, is the key to this – not competition, not selfishness, not conquering, not overwhelming, not overrunning, not self-destruction.  These are “values” of the dominant culture that is destroying our world.  It is part of the psychopathic nature of this old, dying, self-destructive culture that is collapsing now, and taking everything else with it.

It is no wonder why these values are readily adopted and accepted to be a part of our so-called “modern” understanding of the evolution of life.  It is because they support the delusions, lies, and faith in the dominant culture.  It even supports the “death urge” that has been derived from our thinkers and why this drive towards self-extinction continues to propagate the subconscious of the human mind today.

Therefore, how these “values” evolve will also be tainted with what we as a species “want” or “choose” them to be.  And, it is the dominant culture, the culture of civilization that has deluded itself into believing that it can control the evolution of values – through laws that will always be broken, through economic systems that attempt to separate themselves from the natural world, to its religious institutions attempting to separate the nature of human beings from the natural world.  In the end, as it is accelerating in our world now, “choice” in values doesn’t necessarily mean “it works” and certainly doesn’t guarantee symbiosis.

But, if we take an objective stance on this part of the paradox, the question becomes:

Do we “choose” to change our values, as has always been done, yet has failed in one way or another throughout the history of civilization, or do we allow for the change to occur “naturally,” as evolution commands?

And, in addition, this begs the question: Do we have enough time to allow change to come “naturally,” when, ultimately, it is survival that is at stake?

Thus, how will we define “value” if left to be interpreted by the dying, psychopathic, dominant culture?  How can we even suggest to use what the dominant culture has taught us all since birth to answer this question?  Especially, when it is the dominant culture that doesn’t even define “value” in the sense of survival at all!  It is a culture held captive to the “death urge,” where its ultimate value means “no survival at all,” and thus, its primary values don’t “work” anymore.  The primary “value” is to dominate the world, consuming the planet until there is nothing left to consume.


Thus, the mantra from above, and the paradox that it entails, which we are puzzling over here, can be solved only by taking either of these two routes: We either allow evolution to decide if our “values” continue to be allowed to exist, or we choose to change them now, by force.

We have concluded that if “survival” means “life”, and to live means “it works,” and for it to work means “symbiosis,” then the question becomes not whether you “value change” or you must “change your values,” but rather:  Do you see survival itself as valuable?

If so, then there is not a need to change one’s values, because valuing survival is valuing change!  This is because, as concluded above, “change” is equal to “survival,” and how all life must survive, and hence, “works” on this planet.

Then it all comes down to: Why would anyone in their right mind not value survival unless they were psychopathic and sick?  This could only mean that there is something driving their thinking, driving their life that is equally psychopathic, sick, suicidal, self-destructive, and etc. – something that is the complete antithesis of life itself!  From this we can conclude that:

sickness” = “disease” and “disease” = eventual “destruction/death” and “destruction/death” = “not surviving” and “not surviving” = “not life

And this is what is driving the human condition today.  The root of what drives it all is a culture of “not valuing survival,” and it is no wonder that the death urge is increasingly exposing itself in the process of civilization as the dominant culture self-destructs.

As the deduction of the mantra continues, we come to the root of what drives the dominant culture’s idea of “values,” or better, “not valuing survival.”  This can be explained by the difference between “growth” and “development.”

This is what has become the deciding factor of what drives the dominant culture’s understanding of “survival”– an understanding based on a “growth model” rather than on a “development” model. And, somewhere along the way, the meaning of these two terms were twisted and perverted.

To review from what we’ve concluded thus far:

survival” = “to evolve” = “symbiosis” = “to live” = “it works” = “to change
And, now deducing further we include that:

to change” = “to develop


Along with the “change” that takes place with all life and non-life on this planet, there is also “development” that takes place.  Life forms all have a period of growth, but the internal “clock” of growth slows down, and eventually stops this process.  Even the human is not immune from the limits of growth.  We mostly stop growing by the time we reach adulthood, yet we continue to develop as a human being indefinitely, from that time forward.  Our societies and cultures reflect this phenomenon as well.  Our cultures evolve and mature, and most have gone through a “growth phase” that eventually ends.  As with any species, as mentioned above, the culture reaches a limit of growth and change, then it acquires a symbiosis with its environment, whether that be the physical environment or its presence amongst other cultures.  The geological properties of the Earth itself, follow a growth and change pattern, then will settle down into a state of homeostasis and symbiosis.

Thus, “growth” in reality merely relates to the physical, temporary property of a species, and with culture as well – it is a “property” of growth to be exact.  And, after the growth phase, no more is development a primary factor to the life process than with humanity.  Development of the human mind is what sets us apart from all other life.  Our development produces all the elements of human culture.  Our development is responsible for the presence of wisdom.  And, it is what wisdom that we acquire through our development that will determine whether we survive or not.

If the human mind focuses on its development, and how development is an integral part of life and existence on this planet, then we are more in tune with what it means to survive, to “work.”  Then, what is the resistance to develop?  Or, more exact then, what is the resistance to survive?

All that is left that doesn’t fit into the equation of the “values of survival” is how we define growth.  It is how we have defined growth and how it has been chosen by our society and redefined as the delusion of the age.  And it is this definition, a false understanding of growth that has led us on the path that ignores the meaning of survival, life, symbiosis, change, development, and how it all works.

Through this chain of reasoning, we can deduce that our values for survival are part of living already. We develop whether we try to ignore it or not.  Our values change and evolve whether we like it or not.  Life and culture evolve, whether we choose to hold on to them or not.  We are not in control of the levers of life.  All of these are entirely innate and exist in us.  What has held them back from being set free are the delusions of the dominant culture relating to how it defines growth.  It tells us that for us to develop, we must grow; for us to survive, we must grow; for us to change, we must grow, for us to “work,” we must grow.  It has created a false sense of value.  It is responsible for releasing, harboring, and encouraging the death urge upon the human psyche.

Thus, there is no choice to “value change” or “change our values.”  The only choice is to destroy what keeps us from believing we have no other choice – that which has made us believe that the only choice is to continue to grow beyond what the rules of Nature, mentioned above, can allow.

We are rapidly passing the “fork in the road,” where we have the opportunity to abandon the false values of the culture that is leading us to our deaths.  There are real values that we once had when we were part of this planet, not pretending we were masters of it – they were the true values of survival.


Lost in Space

TRC contributor, Christopher Weller
“We’ve got to evolve to a higher form in order to survive…This form we’re in right now is just too primitive.  We have to evolve into something higher, more angelic form…Intelligence is what makes us special, isn’t it?  Moths can’t screw up the world. Catfish can’t screw up the world. It takes intelligence to do that.” – Julie
“In that case, what do you make of your daydream quest?  As you head into the universe to learn how to live, are you looking for angels?…” – Ishmael
“No…I’m looking for intelligent races just like us – but they know how to live without destroying their worlds…It’s like we’re specially cursed…” – Julie
“This is why, in your daydream, it’s necessary to look elsewhere in the universe for the knowledge you seek.  You can’t find it amongst yourselves, because you’re a ‘cursed’ race.  To find the knowledge you need to live sustainably, you need to find a race that isn’t cursed.   And there’s no reason to suppose that everyone’s cursed.  You feel that someone out there must know how to live sustainably…”
“The ‘curse’ under which you operate is very, very localized….It doesn’t even remotely extend to the whole of humanity.  Thousands of peoples have lived here sustainably, Julie. Without difficulty. Without effort.” – Ishmael
– From My Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn
Since the dawn of civilization, the dominant perception of our place in the Cosmos is to explore, to extend our race out to every corner of the Earth, and our imaginations have been filled with dreams of leaping the planet to continue the odyssey out into space.  We believe that the exponentially accelerating advances can only continue, that we will rapidly approach a level of technological achievement that will allow us a place in the stars, joining the community of advanced civilizations amongst the galaxy and beyond, and we have no need to look back.  It is as if we believe this is hardwired into the nature of intelligence in the universe – that it is the destiny of all intelligent life.
The history of Western Civilization is replete with the stories of explorers crossing the vast oceans, over and across distant lands, to “discover new worlds.”  As we know now, the history of civilization here on Earth has been written by the minds of the civilized, where to the countless indigenous cultures, all the explorations and discoveries of this history were a nightmare of conquest and slaughter.  This is because the conceptual belief of civilization is to dominate what it conquers and explores.  It is because the way of civilization that has evolved from the beginning is to believe in the myth that domination is some how equal to progress, that Nature, and hence the universe entire, is to be explored, tamed, and conquered to our liking. And, our stories only naturally reflect this.
This leads only to arrogance of our species.  It leads to a blind faith in our abilities.  The culture of civilization, wrapped in the confidence in our technological advancements, is blinded to our true place in Nature.  As we have reached out into space, we have forgotten that it is our symbiosis with this planet and all of the natural world that has allowed us to exist at all.  This belief in our dominion has become intertwined with our dreams of conquering the vastness of space, yet the true laws of Nature will forever keep us held down until we begin to recognize that it is only our conciliation with it that will allow us to have a place in the Cosmos at all.
The systems of civilization, laced with delusions of grandeur and progress, have broken with the symbiosis we once had during our origins.   We have forgotten how to live at peace with the world. Our economic systems, our social systems, our religious systems, our political systems, and so on, are at war with Nature, rather than in union with it.  The only connection to the Cosmos has been to attempt to bend it to our will.  For us to have a chance at truly reaching for the stars, we must begin to heal the damage we have done to her, and to our souls.  We must return to being at peace with the world.  We need to have a connection, once again, to the Universe.  We can gaze out into space, in awe of its majesty all that we please, but we will never get there unless we make this connection.
The entire history of space science and exploration has only been possible by those cultures who have exploited the most out of the bounty of the Earth.  And this pattern can only continue as long as the dominant culture is permitted to exist.   Most of the world is shut out of the adventure. Our population is headed straight past the carrying capacity of what this planet can support.  The portion of the human race living every day with poverty and struggle is exponentially growing as the dominant culture devours the last resources of the planet.
This delusion of human progress, birthed at the dawn of civilization itself, has lead us to a state where there is not one system on this good Earth that is free of a state of decline.  Ecological collapse, oceanic collapse, global climate change, the peaking of all major resources, and on and on, are leading us into our own black hole, that very soon will suck us into a singularity of extinction, and along with it will go the dreams of exploring space.
As we continue on the path of self-destruction, our arrogance only seems to grow stronger.  A greater faith in our technologies develops, ignoring what Nature is telling us.   It seems that if we can survive at all, after the dust has settled, there will not be much of a human race left.  If we achieve a society of space voyagers, the vast majority of us will not be around to enjoy the glory.  As it is today, the dominant culture ensures that it is only the minority that takes the step “for all mankind.”  If we are to explore the Cosmos as one species together, we will have to conquer our cultural hang-ups first.
As Ishmael tells his young student, Julie, our delusions have brought us to the desperation of imagining that somewhere, out there, someone knows how to live at peace with Nature.  Someone has been able to solve the problem of self-destruction, and allowed their species to explore space. Even part of our imaginations reflected in movies and books projects this fantasy – that some day these extraterrestrial beings will let us in on this secret, and we will be saved from ourselves. We mistakenly believe that we can find these answers and solutions within the same story we’ve been following up to now – the same story that got us into the calamity we face today.  But, we need not look out into space for this answer.  We only need to look back at ourselves, and to our true history of how we were at one time, in complete synchronicity with our world.
Are there such peoples out there somewhere in the Universe?  When one understands the magnitude and vastness of the Cosmos, when one understands the basis of life, when one understands the physics and chemistry that is ubiquitous throughout all space & time, the answer to this question can be an overwhelmingly positive possibility.  With over one hundred billion stars in our galaxy alone, and over one hundred billion galaxies in the known Universe, the chances of intelligent life developing is astoundingly high.



But, what does it take for a race of beings to achieve this status of having a true place amongst the stars?  As mentioned above, the first step is to achieve peace with ones own planet without destroying it, and themselves along with it.  Part of the answer has to do with what has been the key to success or failure of all past civilizations here on Earth.  It is surely our acquisition, exploitation, and use of resources, but primarily it is the employment of energy.
This concept of relating the use of energy and the expansion of intelligent peoples into space is not new.  The same concept is used in the study of collapsing of past civilizations here on Earth. The study of the evolution of our use of energy leads scientists of all genres to come to the same conclusion that without the proper use of energy, a civilization goes no where.  It is always a profound loss of food energy, human energy, domesticated animal energy, kinetic energy, steam energy, chemical energy, fossil fuel energy, nuclear energy, and so on, that causes a civilization to collapse into chaos.  Some had fallen back on other, less complicated forms, but it is always the need for energy that keeps civilization going and growing.  And, as we in the Transition Culture are fully aware, it is our current use of energy that is creating the trap that will extinguish our chances of going anywhere.
In 1964, Russian scientist, Nikolai Kardashev, developed the concept of measuring the growth of civilizations expanding into the Cosmos, basing it correctly upon the use of energy.   He classified civilizations into three main categories.  A Class I civilization would have achieved the complete use of the entire energy output of the home planet, and would be in a completely efficient and stable form that is sustainable only if the civilization decides not to grow from there.  A Class II civilization would have had the need to expand beyond the energy capabilities of the home planet, and have harnessed the entire output capacity of its home star.  And, finally, once the civilization decided that it needed to grow from that point, it would move to a Class III civilization, of what Kardashev referred to as a “galactic civilization,” where they have now achieved the entire energy output of either regions, or sectors, of the home galaxy, or even the entire galaxy itself.
Through the development of the S.E.T.I. project, or the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, this concept from Kardeshev was broken down into sub-categories, particularly by the famed astronomer Carl Sagan, where its number system was taken out to incorporate a decimal system.  In the seventies, Sagan and others concluded that at that time we were about a 0.7 civilization – not quite at the level of Class I. However, Sagan and others in the project were not so naive, and strongly suggested that we could very easily slip into a lower position, even to 0.0, which equates to complete collapse.  The S.E.T.I program, searching for radio signals that they believed would emanate from civilizations of higher class ratings, believed that even with the vastness of space and the statistical use of the class system, there still may be a chance that they may never find the proof they so painstakingly searched for, because maybe, like us, most civilizations grew beyond their carrying capacity, never becoming at peace with their home planet and each other, and had self-destructed.


In our local environment, in our own solar system, which has been thoroughly explored, we have discovered possible planets and moons that we believe may be possible to colonize some day. We imagine colonizing the surface of the Moon, harvesting the water discovered at its poles, or the Helium 4, necessary for the prospect of fusion energy here on Earth.  We dream of someday exploring Jupiter’s moon Europa, with its possible shell of ice covering the surface, where underneath a vast ocean of life, kept alive by volcanic activity, is awaiting our brave explorers.  We imagine going to Mars, where the possibility of transforming it back into a living, breathing planet through the process of terraforming, will allow us to inhabit the planet, truly beginning to colonize the solar system.  Yet, through this scientific study of changing Mars to suit us, we develop models of how it can be done, where in each and every model, efficiency, sustainability, and symbiosis all must be a part of the plan.
Even in our travel locally around Earth, we must create an environment for the occupants of our crafts that is as efficient and self-sustainable as possible, for us even to have the hope at going elsewhere amongst the planets.  We are blind to this fact that although we have not understood the importance of efficiency and sustainability with our home planet, we certainly realize we must provide it to the astronauts we fling out into the blackness of space.  We certainly understand that it must be done in order for us to colonize the solar system and beyond.  Why not here?


Again, we must return our thoughts and minds back to Earth.  Our reality draws us much closer to home. Gaia whispers in our ears the solutions, yet today, we don’t listen to her wisdom.  For even if we are to have the right to look out into space and dream of a place there, we must acknowledge that we have had no respect for our home that has given us life, that has even allowed for us to have the ability to dream at all.  If we are to join the community of civilizations that just might be out there, we must begin to think more of how we ought to live here, how we should live at all.   If there is anything that has allowed any intelligent civilizations to flourish in the Universe, it has been through wisdom and reflection such as this.
We must not look to some mysterious signal from space or monumental arrival of extraterrestrial beings for answers, or wait for some savior race to rescue us – we must rescue ourselves first. We must start making our planet inhabitable before we claim any right to inhabit other worlds.  We must begin to redesign how we live on this planet, just as we design our spacecraft, basing our interaction with the world as efficiency, sustainability, interdependence, and symbiosis.   If we are to even consider us to be an intelligent race, we must demonstrate it in the first place.  Otherwise we will remain “lost in space” forever.
We do have the ability to achieve the various stages of Kardashev’s classes of civilizations in the Universe, but only if we become wise.  Is it wise to use vast amounts of precious energy to launch just a few of us into the punishing coldness of space?  Is it wise to power our space probes with plutonium, the most poisonous element known to man, an element that just a mere, few kilograms could wipe out the human race if one of these crafts exploded in our atmosphere?   Is this “progress”?  And, as said above, if we are to make it at all as a species to the end of even this century, is it “progress” that most of the human race and most of the life on this planet, must suffer and die so that only a few of us can explore the Cosmos?
You see?  We have just projected the same element of the sick, destructive culture that dominates our lives, our planet, and our souls into the project of space exploration thus far.  We waste and we poison for a glory we have no right to experience.
If there is a dream that many of us in the Transition Culture have about the future of space exploration, it is more like a looming, surreal nightmare.  It is of an arrival of a projection of some truly wise culture from the depths of space.  A robotic probe arrives to our atmosphere a few centuries from now, sent in search of intelligent life.   It studies our air, our water, and our land.  It discovers a wasteland of our former civilization, slowly being consumed by a healing planet, healing itself of a once omnipresent disease of dominion we unleashed upon it.  It becomes utterly puzzled by what it has found.  Its grand mission seems a failure, at least for this corner of the galaxy.  In its computations it concludes that there is no intelligent life here on Earth, and it leaves us behind, lost in space.


Michael C. Ruppert on Occupy, Peak Oil, Environment and The Shift

submitted by Gabrielle Price

12/17/11 – Occupy Fear and Loathing Media Tour:

The Refreshment Center’s Gabrielle Price interviews Michael C. Ruppert at his home in Sebastopol, California.  We talk about Occupy and how the collapse of industrial civilization is coinciding with the most dynamic protest movement since the 60’s.  Mike touches upon geopolitics, energy depletion and environmental issues that humanity faces and the spiritual awakening that is taking place globally.  He also shares his experience of the Occupy camps, the women of Occupy and the many veterans who support the movement. [We also verify that no animals were harmed during the making of this film…].

For more information about Michael Ruppert and Collapsenet, please visit and make a connection in the Lighthouse Directory.  You can also tune in every Sunday night to hear Mike’s radio show, The Lifeboat Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.