Saturday, September 14, 2013


I was thrilled beyond words this morning, when I went online to Huffington Post and saw this:

I sensed right away that this was possibly a transforming moment. So I "noodled" on this idea for several hours. And here are some thoughts and reflections:

  • When was the last time we teamed up with another country to make peace, instead of war? Certainly there has been no true peace initiatives since 9/11 - i.e., 2001. I suspect the last major peace initiative was the Dayton Accord in 1995, ending the Bosnian War. Americans cherish peace, yet we clearly engage in a lot of war. Why? Am honestly not sure: Perhaps we think that peace only comes after the war has been won. Perhaps Reagan's continuing use of the Peace Through Strength motto has been seared into our consciousness, regardless of Party. We have witnessed great leaders who "waged peace" highly successfully: Gandhi in India; Mandela in South Africa, and King here in America. But these were neither shooting wars nor conflicts between nations. On balance, most of us in the US and elsewhere have a binary view of conflict: if you win, I lose, and vice versa. And we are completely immersed in the consciousness of scarcity, resource conflict, and fear of the other. Clearly, Gandhi, Mandela and King operated from a different level of consciousness, where abundance, peacemaking, and trust were the qualities seen first, and were part of each leader's basic operating system. Developmental psychologists call this level of consciousness integral, and tell us that less than 5% of the world has attained this consciousness level. Obama, I believe, is part of this small percentage of people who see things whole; who trust the complexity of events to reveal deep structures and patterns, not single point answers or finite solutions; who know with absolute conviction that truth is found not in resolving paradox, but living in its tensions; that flow and generative action requires letting go of ego; and that all people, at every developmental level have something important to say, even your adversaries and enemies, because the brain is not capable of 100% error. In the precise sense that I believe Jesus meant it in the Beatitudes - "Blessed are the peacemakers...", Obama is a peacemaker, while also remembering that Jesus told us to be "Gentle as a dove, and shrewd as a serpent."
  • We see with the consciousness we have. That is perhaps why most commentators simply cannot see what Obama's up to. They are looking for the binary juxtapositions: winner or loser; strong or weak; enemy or friend. The idea of engaging your enemy as the one and only way to find a solution for the conflict you both share an interest in - simply doesn't compute; you can't see it. Running parallel and entirely oppositional strategies simultaneously can also be hard to detect, especially if it hasn't been openly declared. Letting your opponent/adversary/enemy get all the credit for whatever breakthrough is achieved - even going so far as to "plan a gaffe" that your Secretary of State will offer as a seemingly offhanded proposal, which can be accepted by your opponent in such a way that he gets all the credit - none of this makes sense to our pundits - that operational mode doesn't compute - power is everything; the powerful are always the winners; never let your guard down; he who has the gold rules, etc, - so folks just cannot see it when something like what has just happened, occurs. And central to this: Obama truly does not care. He is not attached to being the "last man standing"; he is attached only to the result, to the outcome, to the vision - the North Star he has been following. You may not believe me, or really understand what the hell I am talking about. But this is what has just gone down, and the actions, the patterns, the apparent sudden reversals, the willingness to look the fool - all these are products of an integral consciousness. Obama is an integral leader.
  • We now have a peacemaking template. It will be used a good bit in the next three years - first in Syria to eliminate their CW and get to a negotiated peace; then in Iran, where I am convinced the leadership will understand this as non-proliferation through peacemaking, and not through threatening or making war; then in North Korea, where we will work with China to  deweaponize the North Koreans; and finally Israel-Palestine. I predict all of these will be partly or largely solved by the end of Obama's second term.
Needless to say, a glorious day!


  1. A glorious day, indeed!

    I like your explanation of 'integral' consciousness - a totally new term to me. All *I* knew is that Pres O is a different kind of leader that pundits etc obviously do not understand.

    "the actions, the patterns, the apparent sudden reversals, the willingness to look the fool - all these are products of an integral consciousness. Obama is an integral leader."

    It's refreshing to be led to a writer who enhances the (Obama) dialogue versus spreading all kinds of skeptical garbage. Thanks for sharing your insight.

  2. Integral consciousness is a new term for me, too. When I first heard about Senator Obama in 2008 I could see that his life experiences and his intelligence and thoughtfulness were unique. I thought that he would understand the religious and cultural differences in the Middle East like no other politician I knew because he had lived them. He experienced being black in a white family and would understand race differences. I voted for him because of who he is and trusted that he would make the best decisions possible in our complex world. I really liked how he thought.

    Through his presidency I could see that he doesn't care about his ego and is not ruled by it. He has made many choices because he could see they were right even though they weren't popular. I thought his decision in the complex situation in Libya was masterful and the beginning of a new type of foreign policy. Syria confirms it.

    My admiration of him grows every day. I appreciate that we have him in this time when all is changing around us and we have his steady presence at the helm.

    I visit several of the sites in your sidebar and will check the others. I am so glad to find you! Thank you so much for this post.

  3. What an interesting analysis! I "converted" in 2007 after reading "The Audacity of Hope", and I would offer it in testimony to his "integral consciousness". Best. President. Ever.

  4. Many years ago, when I was just starting out in the field of human resources, I worked for Xerox - a company that has always been known for its innovative policies. All managers were taught a course in win-win negotiations (which I believe is at least part of what you have described above). It was taught in the context of union negotiations, but certainly applies in all areas. Figure out what it is your "opponent" wants and needs to be successful and find a way to give it to him/her and in return... it just works. Our unions had excellent salary and benefit packages, which were also given to the salaried employees after contract negotiations - everyone was equal. The unions agreed not to organize our tech reps -- at the time anyway, Xerox was known for its customer service and needed flexibility with our tech reps. The only strike that ever occurred in the ten years I was there was a situation in which some union members felt the union was too close to management. A manager could be fired (and I know of one H.R. person who was) for talking about union employees as if they were different from "regular" (non-union) employees. The system just worked. In later years, when I found myself inheriting a situation with another organization that had over 800 open grievances/lawsuits going on -- it was no surprise to find out that they practiced a win/lose style of management. Everything had to be "negotiated" and something given up to get something.

    One of the reasons that I have been relatively content to watch President Obama work his magic is because I am very aware that he is operating at a level way above my pay grade. It's not just that he is extremely intelligent, but you just know he is a good person (which probably explains why so many people "like" him even when they don't agree with his policies.) He has integrity (not a trait in abundance in politics). I trust him to make decisions that he believes are in the best interests of our country. They aren't easy decisions -- if they were, anyone could do the job. I understand that sometimes you have to give up something to get something you want more. Honestly, I was not at all surprised to see the Syria situation unfold the way it has. He put a lot of balls in play and then sat back to see how it all shook out and made his decisions accordingly.

    History will undoubtedly show that Obama has been one of the most transformational presidents we have ever had...

  5. So glad I am not alone in my belief that this was well planned from the first threat of military action. That is how community organizers work and ultimately Gandhi, King and Mandela were community organizers. Thanks for your thoughtful explanation.