The Culture Clash Debate

How Then Do We Govern?
The Culture Clash Debate


In all times of transition, there is a clash of stories. The cultural myths that guide our beliefs and actions fight the fierce battle. The old stories hold on for dear life while the new ones are just learning to speak. In the past, our changing stories–as well as the problems they address–have dealt with local issues, but now our story is global. Shifts of old took thousands or hundreds of years, but our shift now is within the span of a lifetime. We are all witness to it. We are all part of it.

Our evolutionary story is moving from an organizing principle based on the love of power to one based on the power of love. Our challenges are an invitation to our adolescent culture to stand up, to grow up, and to care for what has been entrusted unto us. But how do we do that? How do we voice the new values of sustainability, social justice, and expanded consciousness?

Do we vote for the old story–the story of our love of power, of monetary success, achieved through a top-down hierarchical order that began some 5000 years ago when we erected the first civilizations? At a time when almost no one could read or write, and we had none of the technologies or transportation we take for granted today, society was formed by a strong man who governed others and told them what to do. It began as masters and slaves, with varying degrees of hierarchy between them. This operating system is the basis of our economic system, the governance that preceded democracies, and the operating system of most corporations. It is patriarchy at both its best and worst–the very system that has kept things running productively, supplying the means and tools to get things done, coupled with the rapacious nature of power-over dynamics and resource consumption that is destroying our world.

To the Integralists, it would be the meme of Modernism, or the Orange Meme–the capitalists building and providing the fruits of our world–using money to coordinate human activity. Romney represents that story: modernism’s archetype of The Businessman, the symbol of wealth, grandiosity, achievement, and elitism. In a paradigim ruled by the love of power, we look to the powerful to lift us up.

On the horizon is a different story: the story of the power of love, the story we are moving toward, the story that says everybody deserves a chance, that saving the environment assures our future, that peace is more productive, economical, and globally healthy than war. Integralists call this Post-modernism, or the Green Meme, which reflects the interconnectedness of the whole and the challenging dynamics of working together. This story has its difficulties too–it struggles to find consensus, it can be ineffective, and sometimes lacks a coherent narrative.


The old story is so familiar, it has deep grooves in the psyche. We know it well. Whether you agree with it or not, it makes sense. You know what it is. You know where you have been part of that story–whether through your job, education, beliefs, or family structure.

The new story is still forming. It isn’t clearly articulated. It doesn’t have a single voice. It tries to gather many intelligent, differing perspectives into one. It incorporates new facts and challenges and has to remain fluid–making it even harder to see its stance. It often fails to present a clear picture. It doesn’t have the tried and true ruts in the road that hone it into an echo of what we already know. Not yet, anyway.

But that’s no reason to reject this story, but a reason to help it form, for it is OUR story–the story of our future together.

We must understand that we are outgrowing the old story. It is slowly giving way to something newer and richer, even if we don’t know what it is yet. The new story is one we are all writing together as wake up in these incredible times to the planetary initiation that is upon us.

Because the old story is more familiar, it seems safer, especially in times of uncertainty–and these times are certainly that. In reality, the old story is quite dangerous. Power over dynamics renders passivity in the population. Business as usual depletes our resources and drives up global temperature. Increasing gaps between the rich and poor breed violence or apathy. To cling to an old story when it is time to let go is to halt forward movement.

Don’t be fooled by the power of the old and familiar to take you down roads you’ve already explored. Hold faith in the new and give it your attention and creativity. Add your voice to those who are weaving this story. Support those who dare to stand for it.

Choose whether you want to go to the future or the past, to go with the flow of evolution or against it. Know that the going isn’t easy in the midst of change. Know that big promises from anyone fosters false hopes. More jobs is just a temporary stay in the economy–what is really emerging, slowly from the depths of the collective psyche, is a new way of doing things, a new order of business entirely, based more on collaboration than competition, more on connectedness than separation.

Know that each era builds upon the previous. Until the new story is formed, the old one can’t let go. But until the new story honors the gifts of the old it cannot build upon it.

We desperately need bi-partisanship to integrate these stories. But we also need to choose the story that leads to the future–it is always the road less traveled.

Thanks for listening.
Anodea Judith

“Fear is always an anticipation of what has not yet come.
Our fear and separations are great, but the truth of our connection is greater still.” 

–Jack Kornfield