A Letter to Conservative Columnist David Brooks
from Syd Gris

In response to the Darkness at Dawn Op-Ed piece, 11-10-08

Hi David,
I’m one of those San Francsico progressives considered crazy and fringe by the Hannity-Limbaugh continuum. I’m also a member of what I imagine is a growing number of fans of your writings who don’t agree with you on many an issue, but respect you for clearly thinking things through in a way that demonstrates at least your thinking, and not blindly allied with ideology.
I sometimes find it helpful to look at what’s happening in America’s conservative world through the lens of Don Beck and Chris Cowan’s work on Spiral Dynamics, and Ken Wilber’s work on integral theory. Have you had time to read any of their work? You’d appreciate it.
They both look at consciousness as coalescing in distinct ‘waves’ or ‘layers’ or ‘values memes’ that have particular world views, properties, etc. I see a large part of conservatism’s current problems as a refusal of the old guard (traditionalists) to evolve out of their current lens of seeing self and world. At it’s most rigid, it is conformist, absolutist, with unvarying principles of right and wrong. The Blue meme in Spiral Dynamics. It’s frankly outdated by more evolved, integral ways of seeing the world; the gray, the networks of relationships you reference at times in your work.
It’s inevitable the younger, more educated conservative class will evenutally win the war of ideas on that side of the aisle, but it will also, inevitably (to the dismay of the traditionalists) look more liberal, because, in a way – it is! I can feel the resistance based on ego to move in this direction, even though regardless of political affiliation, the truth should be apolitical. (Though I like to joke that truth has a liberal bias.)
These main players in the traditionalist world, I wonder what they do to evolve their consciousness and world view. Do they go to therapy? Have a truly introspective spiritual practice? Read things they don’t already agree with? Open their hearts to others they deem as ‘other’? Are they doing anything to grow up?
Holding on to some of the ideas they do, I can’t help but wonder. I see a lot of the development of consciousness happening of it’s own unfolding from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. But there’s also a point, in some domains, that to keep growing it now takes a more concerted effort rather than letting the momentum of the unfolding of consciousness do much of the heavy lifting. Are these guys doing anything to continue to develop, or do they implicitly think they’re perfect, and everything they think is right?
Obviously this dynamic is at work on both sides of the aisle, but luckily for people like me, who have lived as shamed American through the Bush years, the Right is way farther behind. And when they catch up, it will be OK, because truth inherently leans towards freedom, not constriction. And though the right will evolve in it’s own fashion, it will inherently evolve. If you guys just wait around for the old guard to die, which is often how ideas finally evolve, (the outdated ‘authorities on truth’ people still listen to even though their now static world view are incorrect finally die off); if you wait that long, it will be a long wait. It would be better for the country if you Reformists didn’t wait around, if you really asserted yourselves now while this conversation is fresh.
This article by Ken Wilber on the Iraq War is a variation of what I’m talking about. http://wilber.shambhala.com/html/misc/iraq.cfm
Thanks for listening,
~Syd Gris,
San Francisco