Monday, December 21, 2009

The Whole Brain Revolution

“…in a world of constant change, you need to try to connect with the environment around you any way you can; by sweeping your eyes, by opening your mind to uncomfortable ideas, even by trying to sympathize with historically noxious figures. Only then could you improve your chances of not missing the signs that something, something important, was about to change.” Joshua Cooper Ramo


It’s time to rebalance ourselves and only then our world. In a Navajo healing tradition when someone was sick, they were sent to sit in a sand painting often from four to seven days in order that they might reexamine their lives and remember the time when they went koyaaniqatsi (out of balance). Only after identifying this juncture might they then find their way to hozho nahasdlii (to balance restored). Western civilization—arguable the most influential culture on our planet—as our economic/legal/religious system has evolved to dominate the world, is grossly out of balance and the evidence is tangibly stacking up—and has been so, for a long time. We must, not just individually but collectively, go back though our histories and determine at what point we diverged from lives of equilibrium.

Twenty-five years ago in a university philosophy class, a brief reference was made as to how Western Civilization had taken a wrong turn beginning with the Greeks. This mistake had then led us off into a dangerous tangent. I didn’t understand the professor’s specific case in point at the time, but was captivated by the general idea that we had somehow been journeying though history like a boat adrift on the sea with an undetected error in its navigational instruments throwing us catastrophically off course and headed for the shoals.


As a woman, traditionally viewed as the lesser important and the most inferior of the two sexes, I had long sensed and personally experienced the general denigration of the feminine—which has felt like “thousands of paper cuts”—as we are daily disparaged or disregarded, subtly or virulently, in every venue, from religion to politics, business, media, entertainment, the locker room, etc. I recognized that in our world women have not counted as much as men. The recipients’ of the hierarchical arrangements which infuses our world have been most specifically men and especially white men, who unquestioningly have worn their mantles of superiority.

Not until I began studying energy, such as is prominent in traditional medicines, did I come to understand the imbalances inherent within Western religion and philosophy that establish the basis from which we perceive the world. As I began to apply my new understanding of balance gleaned from my studies to relationships between women and men, I fundamentally realized that here was the crucial issue necessary for effectively addressing our planetary instability. Yin/yang, electro/magnetism, masculine/feminine, positive/negative: each polarity pair related to and dependent on the other—neither force superior nor inferior. These are important concepts which characterize the balance we must seek as individuals but perhaps a more easily understandable and tangibly relevant model is found in the hemispheric differences of our brain. As stated most succinctly by Noble Price Winner Roger Sperry, “The main theme to emerge... is that there appear to be two modes of thinking, verbal and nonverbal, represented rather separately in left and right hemispheres respectively and that our education system, as well as science in general, tends to neglect the nonverbal form of intellect. What it comes down to is that modern society discriminates against the right hemisphere.” This prejudice has been extended collectively against women who are more attuned to the intelligence of the right brain.

Brain FunctionsThe left hemisphere or egoic, logical brain has dominated the decision-making processes for generations and has generally been identified with men. The right universal, feeling brain has been more specifically identified with women. Women thus have been seen throughout history as being incapable of making rational decisions and rarely have been allowed to participate in the affairs of society as a result of this line of thinking. In what may be the biggest conceit in history, but has been the prevalent world view, has been the belief that men are more rational than women because they were not ruled by their emotions—and thus the natural leaders. Certainly, we’ve fallen for this fictitious fancy far too long.

After 911 as I sat in a coffee shop surrounded by several men friends, I was astounded by all the chest-beating and ranting about which enemy we should “bomb back to the stone age.” Anger was absolutely a natural emotional response to the attack, but their recommended actions were not wise as we’ve seen. The airwaves, following the event, were full of men’s bombastic, bellicose ravings, with little commentary from women, or men, who might have disagreed with their “rational” responses toward the attack. I remember feeling quite horrified by the prevalent male behavior—calmer heads were needed before any decisions about war should have been concluded. As disturbed as I was by the attack on the Twin Towers, and there is no denying its devastating impact on our global, collective psyche, I was equally if not more so, distressed by the typical male reaction. There was a frightening knee jerk tendency to retaliate, ignorant of fact and understanding—certainly not solely just a rational response: emotions were central and well manipulated to promote the Bush agenda toward war. Is it any wonder that history has been one long catalog of war? Men’s natural emotional reaction to attack is primarily lethal retribution from a fear perspective no matter the “rational” explanation given. This conduct is seen over and over throughout history and results in extremely polarizing behavior. Besides creating a more and more unstable world, the increases in testosterone which accompany stress, excitement, or war, drive men further into their fear-based left brain and thus our societies further out of balance.


The increases of testosterone result in heightened aggressive behavior. That aggression is not easily diminished even as the war ends so the target to which the hostility is directed merely shifts. I have noted two important consequences which follow every war, one especially detrimental to women: 1.) Any hard won progress women accomplish toward expanding their rights within society in the years between major conflicts—when the energy is more balanced—are either lost or rolled back when the extreme masculine schism is reasserted. 2.) The sizeable increases in debt realized in funding war leads to severe price inflation. The debt is incurred to the benefits of the elite men controlling the international system of finance who demand collateral considerations from the belligerents for the vast extensions of credit. These creditors, whose own fears and insecurity’s result in “the Lucifer Effect’ which no amount of money and power can satisfy, often lend to both sides of any conflict so that they may exert undue influence to control the outcome of world events through the use of the monetary system. The onerous burdens placed on the debtors result in substantial losses of freedom and opportunity and cause much social disruption; destroying countless lives when the economies contract after society’s ability to absorb debt is depleted. This blueprint of economic control or the “Quiet Wars” which has been waged on our societies, particularly since the economic formula was perfected by the Rothschild’s in the 18th century, has been repeated for centuries. We may profess democracy and freedom but in truth these concepts are hollow promises obscured by the repetition of empty mantras of freedom that we repeat over-and-over blinding us to the truth of our world as we blithely contribute to our own self-hypnosis and mind control.

If women’s views were solicited, appreciated and acted upon, there in truth may be some truly more rational ways of dealing with opposition then in just killing or economically enslaving those with whom we have disagreements or from whom we feel threatened. Violence or war is not the normal mode from which women act—war is a man’s game. Having been relegated to an emphasis on the intelligence of the right brain throughout history, women have been closer in touch with the life affirming qualities inherent in that hemisphere which profoundly are aware of the universal interconnections of all life on our planet..


Woman’s brains have 40% more interconnections between the left and right hemispheres than men’s brains; therefore we have a natural ability to excel at understanding the big picture and can provide a more holistic, balanced perspective from which to make decisions. Our brains are better able to respond to all sensory stimuli. Equipped with a wider acuity for perceiving sensory information, we are able to connect and relate information with greater facility. Our tactile sensitivity is so great, that in some tests, the least sensitive woman is more sensitive than the most sensitive man. These proclivities account for our seemingly “supernatural” intuition. Because of this, we are simply better equipped than men to take notice of things to which they are completely blind and deaf. Instead of viewing our observations as an asset to keep our societies from pursuing ill advised and unsustainable means of living and interacting with the world, we have been belittled for being “too sensitive.” Had the talents of women been appreciated, our acute sensitivities would have served as important gauges for maintaining the health and balance of our societies; instead our advice and warnings have been ignored and dismissed as “bitching.”

Could it be that the roots of our dire ecological, economic, geopolitical, etc., conditions are traceable to the cosmology of the ancient Greeks--after all, we can trace misogyny’s beginnings directly to that time. Are the limitations imposed on the contributions of women by denying them significant leadership roles in shaping our world responsible for our current difficulties? Was this the flaw in our instruments responsible for why we find ourselves in shallow water headed for the rocks? How unwise is it, that the gender most able to contribute a fair-minded, balanced perspective necessary for creating a harmonious and peaceful world, have been systematically, until fairly recently, denied education and opportunity? Women’s contributions have been confined, either to the home and family, or to supporting the status quo of a polarized left brained world. We still have little access in actually substantially defining, shaping and contributing to an alternative vision. The general omission of the talents of large numbers of women in public leadership roles, I believe is the most germane issue which must be internalized in order for us to correct course and create a more sustainable and harmonious world. That world is yet to be born, but the labor pains have begun.

Joshua Cooper Ramo in his excellent new book, The Age of the Unthinkable reminds us that:

“Every important historical moment is marked by…shifts to new models of living, which expand in velocity and complexity well past the current ways of thinking can handle. Our moment is no exception. And usually the source of the greatest historical disasters is that so few people at the time either recognize or understand the shift. Artists, with their tuned instincts for the new, often do…But for diplomats, politicians, or businessmen buried under piles of the old ideas and biases, well, for them real comprehension is usually impossible.”

Our present world has been created from an unstable model; a primary use of one type of intelligence—the left brain. As the institutions which have been organized from this paradigm fail us, we must incorporate a new intelligence as is only found within a rebalancing of our right and left hemispheres. Those who make the conscious effort to reconnect with this balance will become our new leaders—many of whom will be women. It’s our time. It’s time for a whole brain revolution.


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