#MeToo, Men, and the Polarization of the Left and Right

Let me go on record and declare myself. I believe the MeToo Movement is good for women and men. I believe that men are good, but many are confused and angry. I believe that we must end the polarization of the left and right or humanity is in danger of destroying itself. I have five children and seventeen grandchildren and I would do anything to give them a better world now and in the future.

We all have to face the reality of our own death. Most of us also are concerned about the survival and well-being of our children and grandchildren. But this is the first time in human history where people are worried about the survival of all humanity. For me, these are realities that are so frightening and overwhelming I just want to withdraw into a world of make-believe where everything is wonderful and beautiful and everyone is healthy, wealthy, and wise. But, I won’t. I care too much about the future of our country and the people of the world to give up now. If you can handle the truth, read on. If not, this would be a good time to stop reading.

I think the underlying reason Donald Trump was elected was that people were overwhelmed with the state of our world and afraid to face the truth. Yes, Hillary was unpopular with many (though she did receive 2.87 million more votes than Donald Trump). Yes, the Russians interfered in our election and wanted Donald Trump to be our President (I still remember the 1962 movie, The Manchurian Candidate, and am horrified that so many Republicans fell for the Russian manipulation in 2016). Yes, many men in a few key states felt their livelihoods were endangered and felt abandoned by the Democratic establishment.

“Lock her up” and “build a wall” seemed like magical solutions that would solve problems that seemed beyond our ability to fix. When we can’t figure out how to make things better in the real world, many of us will settle for magical solutions in the world of make-believe.

No one has captured this reality better or offered more creative solutions to our problems than sociobiologist and futurist Rebecca Costa. In her book, The Watchman’s Rattle: A Radical New Theory of Collapse, she says, “To solve the highly complex, dangerous global problems we face today, we must first recognize the crucial relationship between evolutionary change and the modern human condition.”

Costa examined civilizations that collapsed including the Roman Empire and 3,000-years of the Mayan Empire in Mexico and concluded the underlying cause was their inability to deal with complexity. “They became unable to ‘think’ their way out of large, highly complex problems because they advanced to a point where traditional left- and right-brain problem-solving methods—which the human organism developed over many millions of years—were no longer sufficient to address their most dangerous threats.”

Like present-day humanity, the people of these once great and thriving civilizations, just couldn’t get their heads around major problems confronting them. “The intricacy and magnitude of the issues that the Mayans faced during their final hours—climate change, civil unrest, food shortages, fast-spreading viruses, and population explosion—exceeded their ability to obtain facts, analyze them, innovate, plan, and act to stop them. Their problems simply became too complex.”

We are in the same situation today as the Mayans and other civilizations that couldn’t deal with the complexities they faced. As Costa reminds us, before the final collapse there are warning signs including the following:

“To solve the highly complex, dangerous global problems we face today, we must first recognize the crucial relationship between evolutionary change and the modern human condition.” Costa examined civilizations that collapsed including the Roman Empire and 3,000-years of the Mayan Empire in Mexico and concluded the underlying cause was their inability to deal with complexity. “They became unable to ‘think’ their way out of large, highly complex problems because they advanced to a point where traditional left- and right-brain problem-solving methods—which the human organism developed over many millions of years—were no longer sufficient to address their most dangerous threats.”

Like present-day humanity, the people of these once great and thriving civilizations, just couldn’t get their heads around major problems confronting them. “The intricacy and magnitude of the issues that the Mayans faced during their final hours—climate change, civil unrest, food shortages, fast-spreading viruses, and population explosion—exceeded their ability to obtain facts, analyze them, innovate, plan, and act to stop them. Their problems simply became too complex.”

We are in the same situation today as the Mayans and other civilizations that couldn’t deal with the complexities they faced. As Costa reminds us, before the final collapse there are warning signs including the following:

  1. Gridlock happens. Nothing seems to work. Everything becomes difficult, complicated, and eventually, things just stop.
  2. We distrust knowledge and accept unfounded beliefs. Factual knowledge becomes suspect and beliefs become what we rely upon. Fake news becomes the only news and real news declines.
  3. Irrational opposition rules the day. We stop solving problems or being for something positive and all our energy goes into opposing something or someone. We look for scapegoats who we can blame for everything that is wrong.
  4. Fear trumps love and anger overwhelms compassion. We attack ourselves (auto-immune diseases and suicides increase) and we are in constant conflict with other people, other political parties, and other countries.
  5. We blame individuals for system problems. Trump and his supporters want to lock up Hillary (and if you’re a Trump supporter, you believe she deserves it) and many Democrats want to impeach Trump (and if you’re a Democrat like me, you are sure he deserves it.) To be sure, there are individuals who need to be held accountable for their misdeeds, but no individual can fix the big problems we face. We need to change the system.

Us and Them: Evolution’s Way of Keeping us Safe and Creative

Change and adaptation are realities that have been with us forever. According to scientists Dr. Brian Swimme and Dr. Thomas Berry, authors of The Universe Story, “The universe came into being approximately 15 billion years ago, the solar system 5 billion years ago, the Earth 4 billion years ago, the first single-celled animals 2 billion years ago, and the first humans approximately 2.6 million years ago.”

Two basic divisions came into being with the evolution of humans, us and them. Humans survived because they formed tribes that united small groups together and protected them against predators and enemies that might kill them. Feeling a part of the in-group and in opposition to the out-group is an ancient way of keeping us safe. But humans couldn’t have become as successful as we have without developing a caring-connection with “them.” We learned to trade goods and services, find mates, and form alliances. We used our creativity to learn new practices and to share innovative ideas with others.

There has always been a dynamic tension between them and us, between left and right, between men and women. Leonard Cohen captured this tension in his song from the 1960s, There is a War with these lyrics:

There is a war between the rich and poor,
A war between the man and the woman.
There is a war between the left and right,
A war between the black and white,
A war between the odd and the even.

Cohen recognized the inherent conflict, but recognized we had to deal with the tension and come together. He went on to sing:

There is a war between the ones who say there is a war
And the ones who say there isn’t.
Why don’t you come on back to the war, that’s right, get in it.

We’ll never solve our problems–whether it’s the global climate crisis, our gridlocked political system, or our penchant for gun violence–by escaping from them. Nor, will we solve them by trying to protect ourselves by eliminating one side of the conflict or the other. We will solve our problems together or not at all.

One man who is leading the way is Nebraska Congressman Ben Sasse. In his book, Them: Why We Hate Each Other and How to Heal, he offers a real understanding of situation we are facing. “It seems clear that in America today, we’re facing problems that feel too big for us, so we’re lashing out at each other.” Women are lashing out at men and vice versa, the right is lashing out the left and vice versa. He goes on to say, “As traditional tribes of place evaporate, we rally against common enemies so we can feel part of a team.” It’s time, we recognized them as the loyal opposition, not our enemies.

The hope for our future is that we recognize our differences, but stop fighting each other and solve the underlying problems of disconnection that are at the root of our fear, anger, and alienation, #Metoo can become #Wetoo. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Please visit me here and share your ideas, concerns, and questions.

I’ve been writing about men, women, and the state of our world since my first book, Inside Out: Becoming Your Own Man, was published in 1983. My 16th book, 12 Rules for Good Men has just been published and those who buy the book before December 21st (my 76th birthday). You will receive a signed, numbered, copy of the book. With your purchase, you will also receive my Good Men Manifesto for free. Check it out here.

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