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As I watch the ongoing healthcare debate, the angry townhall meetings, the well-monied corporate lobbyists, and the political infighting that seems so often to have much more to do with defeating each other’s party, lining their pockets, and winning elections, than actually governing and improving this country, one glaring question keeps coming to mind:

How did we get from ‘We, The People,’ a foundational concept of this country, to ‘Me, The Person?’

This country was built not only on the idea that we could be free from the tyranny of a repressive ruler, but also that together we could rule in a way that benefited everyone, not just the privileged few.  A conservative or libertarian argument might say that the underlying concept of this country was to create a system whereby we were free from governmental intervention and protected against foreign and domestic invaders — so that we could make our own way by the sweat of our own brow, and prosper accordingly.

And they would be right…but only partially.

The very idea of ‘We, The People’ doesn’t just mean that we hold the sovereign power, through our right to vote in representatives, to determine the direction of this country for our own personal good. It also includes the idea that the outcomes must be for the ‘common good’. 

In other words, our ‘vote’ must not only take into account what serves us personally, but what serves the rest of ‘We, the People’. Of course, we can never totally know that, since we are all unique individuals, but there are certainly overall parameters of what serves the common good. There is basic common sense, and there is a deeper intuitive knowing of what’s right, what’s fair, what’s just, and what’s honorable. And whether we want to admit it, we know when our decisions are being made from this moral center or from our egos.

Without this basic foundation, we are not ‘We, The People,’ we are just ‘Me, The Person’ — and we have essentially not evolved at all from the tyranny we tried to escape. Instead of being a country run by one self-serving tyrant, we become a country run by millions of self-serving tyrants (I mean, let’s be honest, when we want what we want and want it now, we’re all tyrants, like spoiled little kids hoarding our toys, not wanting to share, making up rules that only benefit us — changing them every time someone finds a loophole that benefits them at our expense — and throwing fits when we don’t get what we want. Or am I the only one?!)

What’s more, our very self-serving perspective of ‘just let me get mine and I’ll be fine,’ weakens our collective power, and, thus, our ability to properly manage our representatives, who end up merely reflecting our own narcissistic ways right back at us by doing whatever serves them personally. The whole system breaks down from there, and we all lose in the end.

The idea that if we just ‘look out for number one,’ the invisible hand of the market will take care of itself, is simply not true, at least it’s not the whole truth. We saw its results in the latest economic meltdown, and we see it in virtually every system where the individual takes priority over the group. When an individual cell in the body decides that it is just going to be about getting its own share, regardless of the rest of the community of cells, it can become a cancer that ultimately destroys the very system that keeps it alive.

We also see it when the majority rule represses the minority, as in racial, gender, and other discrimination issues. But that’s why it can’t be an either/or equation. We have to find a this AND that model; one that honors the individual needs fully but creates a solution that also honors the needs of the group; a model that allows the individual to thrive, prosper, and totally go for it, in a context that respects the system it’s a part of and serves to make it stronger; a model that is based more on giving than taking, in the recognition that as we give we not only add value to others but expand the available resources and our ability to receive them, thus enabling us to give even more, and expand the resource pool further, in an ever-widening circle that benefits everyone.

It can be done, but we have to realize that it is important, even necessary for our survival, before we’ll have the sustaining motivation to expand our paradigms to make it possible, and take the actions to make it real.

Ultimately I don’t believe this can be done merely at the current human level of consciousness.  A problem can’t be solved at the level of thinking that created it, as Einstein said. That’s why no matter how many new programs or policies we create from this old paradigm, even with good intentions, they rarely solve the bigger problems. They act more as stop-gap measures that forestall the inevitable crash of the system and new wave of solutions based on old ways of thinking. What we need is a revolution of thought, a quantum leap in consciousness, a spiritual realization of the deeper underlying truth that is trying to emerge in every one of these major crises.

The only way that looking out for number one can work is if we first recognize that the ‘one’ we need to look out for is the whole of humanity. We are one vast organism, not many separate ones. Although our branches appear disconnected, if we dig deep enough we will find that our root system is the same, and the health of each of us contributes to the health of all. This is no longer merely mystical ramblings, philosophical theories, or science fiction — it is science fact. Quantum physics, cell biology, and other leading-edge sciences are all beginning to prove, with rigorous double-blind studies, that, when you get down to the fundamental building blocks of life, there are no blocks at all, but a vast field of energy out of which everything emerges. There is no separation, no boundaries or borders, no ultimate race, gender, nationality, or political party. There is just this one ‘something’ that expresses as everything.

The problem is we continue to run our lives, create our laws, and govern our country based on Newtonian physics rather than the revelations of Quantum physics and related sciences, and that leads to further breakdown, because once a newer, higher energy frequency has been unleashed, resistance to it will send the old system into chaos, until it breaks down completely and gives way to the higher complexity trying to emerge. Whether it’s healthcare, economics, business, politics, or even foreign affairs, if we continue to make our decisions and create our laws based on outdated Newtonian physics or what’s best for ‘Me, The Person’ rather than ‘We, The People’, we will continue to create conflicts that drive us further apart, causing us to waste our resources in fighting these battles, and ultimately deplete and destroy the very systems that sustain our economic, political, diplomatic, and even human lives.

But if, once we’ve answered the question, ‘What’s the best option for me (or my family, business, political party), we then ask the question, ‘How can I achieve this in a way that is also best for ‘We’ — meaning others in my company, other companies in my field, the communities it affects, the whole political system rather than just my party, the whole country rather than just my constituents, the whole neighborhood rather than just my family, and the whole planet rather than just my country — we will begin moving closer to real and lasting solutions for not only our individual problems, but the deeper, broader systemic problems of which ours are but symptoms, potentially saving massive resources in the future, not to mention alleviating much of the pain and suffering of grappling with the same problems over and over, just wearing different faces.

And slowly but surely, or sometimes quickly and dramatically, we will begin to fulfill not only the great potential of America to be a thriving country for all again, but reach for its greater promise to be a shining light on a hill…and help to build a world that doesn’t only work for a few, but a world that works for everyone. 

Regardless of your religious or political persuasion, doesn’t that seem like a worthy vision to work toward? Wouldn’t you like to see every man, woman, and child in this country and on this planet have all the resources they need to fulfill their great destiny and deliver their gifts to the world? Don’t you think we would all benefit greatly from that, on every level?

“Me, The Person” or “We, The People”…what’s it gonna be?

Take a moment each day this next week to consider at least one decision you’re about to make, and ask yourself if it’s in the best interest of only you (or your family, business, etc.), or if it takes into consideration the larger context in which it is a part. Then take a few moments to ask how, if necessary, you can alter your actions to benefit not only you but everyone and everything involved in your action.

Then let me know how the experiment goes!

In the meantime, stay inspired and keep your dialogues deep.

Derek