March 8, 2009

Integral Vision and the Search for Peace

From Integral Review Issue 2:
Integrity, Integral Vision and the Search for Peace

By Mark Gerzon
"The purpose of life is . . . to know oneself. We cannot do so unless we learn to identify ourselves with all that lives." — Mohandas K. Gandhi
I have never seen a conflict in which everyone could see the whole. On the contrary, I have only experienced conflicts in which some, and usually all, of the “part-ies” were identified with the “part.” They were, literally, “partisan.” This is the basic human condition, the natural worldview of organisms that are born, live and die as seemingly separate entities. When our bodies shout “Me first!” — we listen. We are wired to survive, and to put our survival before others (an instinct which can be trumped by only one other: protecting our offspring). As a natural extension of our survival instinct, we tend to care more about the welfare of those near and dear to us than those who are, by whatever definition, far away. Our language provides convenient words for each: the first we call “us;” the latter, “them.”

The challenge of integrity—or integral vision, which literally means “seeing” or “holding” the whole—is to balance this very natural allegiance to the part (“partisan”) with an allegiance to what it is but a part of. If we think of a conflict which affects us—whether personal, professional or political—we notice that we tend to be more identified with “I” than “you,” and more with “us” than “them.” This tyranny of pronouns not only affects our tongue; it is in our cells. Integrity is our fallible, human attempt to counteract this in-built self-centeredness by cultivating a whole-centeredness.
Read More: Here

MARK GERZON is an author, mediator and leadership consultant focused on fostering global leadership. Hailed by the New York Times as an “expert in civil discourse,” Mark has worked as a facilitator and leadership trainer for the United Nations, the US House of Representatives, and a wide range of corporate and civic organizations around the world.

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