Some 13 months ago I first posited an oncoming phenomenon I identified as The Great Leveling — which referred to a four-to-six-year-long series of crises in America and abroad that were all tied to addiction, and featured a mass downward spiral leading to two more results: hitting bottom and then embracing a far-too-long absent Humility — and rebuilding society, from the bottom up. Scary though that process is, we’re already at a place, about a year into it, where softening TGL’s impact has become enabling. Not good.
by Donald Croft Brickner
The scenario: The CEO of a huge failing bank tells his employees, from entirely out of left field, that his bank had made profits the first two months of this year, when his bank’s stock values had fallen to almost nothing and, by all indications, insolvency was near. Only the CEO’s claim is offered: no numbers yet back it up, or will for at least another two weeks … allowing the claim is valid, to begin with. Maybe it is.
The media then picks up the claim and publishes it, demanding zero support to back its merits. Wall Street and its investors react similarly, and a spike in the bank’s worth not only shoots up in one day, but the Dow itself skyrockets. It’s like, Oh, thank you, God — thank you, thank you! Happy Days are here again!
Then, only three days later, nearly 2,000 top scientists gathered in Copenhagen warn that global warming is accelerating beyond even the worst predictions, and threatens to trigger "irreversible" climate shifts on our planet. Adding that there’s no excuse for inaction, these leading climate researchers urge policy-makers to "vigorously" provide economic and technological tools to cut emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases: and to do it, now.
AOL runs the latter story, and adds an impromptu (and, yes, unscientific) poll for its members, asking them, How concerned are you about global warming?
Of the then 216,860 who respond, 44 percent choose to click on, “Very,” while 24 percent select, “Somewhat.” Sandwiched between those two options are 32 percent who say they’re “Not at all” concerned about global warming… Not at all!
Do we even need to ask what’s wrong with both of the above “pictures?”
Can anyone deny that a gigantic percentage of the U.S. population is still deeply in denial regarding the state of their nation, the world and our enjoined futures?
Psychologically healthy individuals just don’t react that way — the truth, no matter what it may be, is important to them. As for those in denial, there’s a reason for it.
The most consistent and efficacious of these are that those in denial are likely addicts — not to chemical substances (although that’s a possibility, too), but rather to sociological addictions, among them compulsive money-making and nihilism, a pseudo philosophy and faux world view whose days are numbered.
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Phase One (of three) of The Great Leveling, featuring a mass downward spiral leading to a widespread “bottom-hitting” (Phase 2), is obviously already here, just prior to an economic collapse — the first of a series of disruptive occurrences. But all of that’s only so, if one accepts the identification of, and the premise behind, what’s admittedly a first-time-ever, one-time-only addictions-driven “sociological downturn” model, in the first place.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of seriously addressing the addiction mechanics that drive TGL, because if the phenomenon isn’t properly diagnosed, the aberrant psychology and mindset that gave birth to it will flourish and grow.
That mindset will have little trouble finding ways to dance around any and all of the restrictions placed upon it by the Obama Administration. There’s no playing fair here — the addiction forces that molded this economic mess alone have zero intention of “buckling under” to well-meaning, but ultimately impotent, corrections.
Those forces can still be found hovering near, and manipulating, stocks values. They have absolutely no interest in their fellow human beings, or the suffering they’ve callously brought forth by their compulsive money-making determination.
It’s all about winners and losers for them. Clearly they intend to remain “winners” while the world around them weakens. The suffering of others pleases this group.
Those who are weak, so their theories state, must be cut from the herd and left to die, either figuratively or, if that’s how it plays out, literally. This is nihilist thinking.
They don’t recognize their addictive natures — and, worse, neither does almost anybody else.
Their political theories are foolishly granted equal weight with any and all other perspectives — not just by the yuppie media, but even by a deeply committed and standup new administration that, in its ignorance, simply doesn’t know better. It wants “them” to be saved, too! Addiction has never been widely understood nor dealt with in America to date. It’s certainly not now — and when it’s most needed.
Addicts of all stripes — what few of them are actually recognized — are commonly viewed as “less-thans,” weakling personalities who need to deal with their issues, and learn to leave everyone-the-hell-else alone. There are plenty of uninhabited shacks or boxcars to be occupied by all these degenerates, so the thinking goes.
Crass heartlessness is not a one-way street in today’s times, it should be noted.
These judgmental and marginalizing point-of-views only heighten money addicts’ determination, in particular, to “win the game” whose rules they, in fact, created.
Make no mistake — it’s them against the rest of everyday us, per their dictates.
And if they’re not stopped in their tracks, they’ll delight in taking away this game from their self-righteously puffed-up and deluded detractors, who are themselves perceived, in return, as weaklings they’ll make sure will be pared from “the herd.”
Can anyone say Madoff? This is a game of Monopoly, little more: and they’ll win.
One guy goes to jail. Twelve more take his place, and/or remain undiscovered.
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Both sides, when they opt to participate, view this as a battle of the fittest.
Both sides are incorrect. There’s nothing more profound taking place here than the ongoing activities of human beings as addicts — which make up most of us.
That’s why, and how, we’ve dredged up The Great Leveling at this moment in our history. It’s also why TGL is a unique phenomenon: it’s solely about addiction.
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I will admit to you now, as an aside, that even I have been surprised with the still-highly-probable, if not already manifested, accuracy of my previously published predictions. It’s not so much because my working model supporting The Great Leveling process may have been in question, either. Its source was the existing (and statistically supported) run-of-the-mill addictions model, as it’s approached and treated by any 12 Step-like “spiritual” corrective process (more on that soon).
Rather, it’s that I made a leap outside the framework of that working model when I not only diagnosed TGL as “new” and simultaneously unique, as well — but that I insisted this already working model might also apply to the entirety of humanity.
Heretofore, the addictions model strictly applied to individuals.
To the best of my knowledge, there has never been an addictions model that’s been applied to a large number of individuals as one all-encompassing group — namely, that all of the afflicted individuals in a prospective group not only shared similar characteristics, but that the symptoms of the predominant addiction they seemed to share (in this instance, compulsive money-making, or its bevy of sub-addictions) surfaced, came to fruition about at the same time, and then “afflicted” its target collective – all-but all of us — for nearly identical reasons: it had come out of a misguided and ill-considered Materialism Run Amok real world infirmity.
Has ours been the only society that’s been brought to its knees as the result of materialistic hubris? Not hardly (can anyone say Rome?). But ours will be the first society/culture ever to pull itself out of its locked-and-loaded self-destruction, evolve, and transform, as a result — if, and only if, we grant the addiction process its just due. “Just due” means tapping into the realms of the spiritual (as 12 Step addiction-correction programs insist) as we loosely learn to “let go, and let God.”
I can hear the groans out there. Please stop doing that.
There will be no shoveling “God,” specifically, down anyone’s throat in this essay.
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“God,” per se, is not in any way apt to intervene in this harsh but loving process. God, no matter how He/She/It/They has been described (and/or dismissed), has never worked that way in recorded contemporary history, and so won’t now. (We can’t even define a tenable “God” that any consensus currently embraces, so the point here is moot.)
From a practical standpoint, all our references to God may as well be to broccoli. We talk a great deal about a loving, even self-sacrificing, God, but as yet we’ve never brought forth evidence for “a creator,” particularly when it’s most desired.
If it’s not already obvious, there exists increasing contempt for God, as an idea.
It’s not as serious a sociological phenomenon as it appears, however. It’s just a floating anger that’s predominant in a society that finds itself in helpless freefall.
* * * * *
Where The Great Leveling can still fly off the tracks, however — and it’s a newly-surfaced but not entirely unexpected development — is if our political leaders are so clever as to be able to shut down The Great Leveling in its entirety — and as a result, leave materialistic hubris as a still functioning, hugely influential operative.
Put another way: if our culture should ever fully return to a determined shopping-and-profits-above-all “philosophy,” we won’t survive: as a culture, or as a planet.
Profits-above-all is an enormously cynical and addictions-driven mindset, with not one whit of philosophical or ethical substance or support to back it up.
The nihilists among us wish to see to our demise. For them it’s clearly, life sucks — and so do people. Ergo, it’s time we put an end to “love,” as a delusion. If God exists at all, He’s almost assuredly a drunk.
Which would also make God a “heavenly” distiller of moonshine, btw.
All these stop-gaps that our American government is fitfully throwing into place — many of them entirely appropriate in order to mediate the severity of The Great Leveling, programs and activities that are certainly in order — still run a grave risk of enabling the sociological mess that is in place to retain its deadly influences.
Nihilists, by the way, aren’t born. They’re created out of the bilge of addiction.
“Enabling” is any activity, no matter how well-intended, that permits destructive behavior(s) to remain in place. For those who may be victims of physical abuse, and opt to remain with their batterer (only to be predictably beat up again), is an act of enabling the batterer … to batter. Removing the human targets from such entrenched offenders is the only way to deal with them, apart from filing charges.
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The Great Leveling is, at its core, a paradox — one very similar in context to Step 1 of the 12 Steps: “We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction — that our lives had become unmanageable.” We were broken down, so we could heal.
Much of the substance behind identifying the addictions model that defines The Great Leveling can be found in its paradox: for only by leaving us in the wake of TGL’s disruptions might we awaken to find ourselves simultaneously wounded (albeit not mortally), and truly, deeply humbled: the state that precedes healing.
We were wounded because we simply refused to release our chronic hubrises. Stretched to the lengths we’ve taken it these days, hubris is itself an addiction.
Our wounds will heal. Our Humility, which replaces obstinate hubris, will remain.
* * * * *
One big clue that one is encountering a truly spiritual manifestation in the secular and intellectually empowered physical world is when a genuine paradox appears.
Step 1 in 12 Step programs is an honest-to-goodness paradox: what seemed like the end, is really only a new beginning.
Compare Step 1 to The Tower card in Tarot decks: sometimes the only way to clear a field overrun with weeds is to burn down the entire field, mortally trapped crops and all, in order to begin anew — which in this analogy is the function of the “Tower.” As an applied spiritual concept, it serves all kinds of dead-end activities and sufferings whose chronic natures otherwise won’t be budged.
Few classical philosophers have ever argued in favor of such an application. The notions of paradox, “tower events” and hitting-bottom have all been passed down over the years to psychologists to deal with and formalize as best as they’re able.
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Maybe the farmer unconsciously “created” the bolt of lightning that caused his field to burn away to begin with. (Or, you know — maybe he didn’t.)
Regardless, we’ve never perused it under empirically friendly statistical studies, because scientists don’t yet allow themselves to think that way, and therein enact some kind of framework for such an intriguing and justly hopeful experiment.
In any event:
Webster’s New World Dictionary defines paradox as, “a statement that seems contradictory, etc. but may be true in fact.” Paradoxes are rarely acknowledged, in part, because they tend to only show up when instances of spirituality surface.
Those who embrace (and sometimes consciously protect) spirituality as a notion readily recognize a paradox when they encounter it. For them, it’s commonplace.
Only the rarest forms of paradox involve hurting-as-healing, by the way. Most of the time, paradoxes come off more like “little winks from God” that mean little, in and of themselves. One can go “all Jung” in these instances, but it’s uncalled for.
And so on.
* * * * *
Because the majority of our population perceives addiction as an aberrancy that applies to “somebody else” (these days, itself a sure sign of hubris), only a very small percentage of Americans understand the 12 Step programs as a process.
As a point-of-order, it should be recognized that the 12 Steps were devised with an intention that anyone can work them — and that “God” need never be defined!
Severely understated (and approximating but one variation on even this specific recovery program theme), the 12 Steps, put into practice, may go kind of like this:
Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable. This is the only step that isn’t “worked” as part of the program’s recovery process. It’s the state of being in which one arrives at one’s first 12 Step meeting — and it’s synonymous to “hitting bottom.”
Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. This is pretty straightforward; during one’s active addiction days, one hurt others emotionally, to varying degrees. Here the idea is to sit down and create another list, this one of individuals one has likely affected due to active addiction — and then be willing and prepared to do Step 9.
Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would hurt them or others. For aggressive personality types, this step is a very, very big deal; and for the passive types, it’s still a big deal, although it requires a bit more clarity. In any event — the idea is, simply, to make amends to any and all people one had hurt or harmed — and to do so in such a way that it fits within any and all desires of the former victim, spoken and unspoken. How does one know what those might be? One asks them: in private.