When fixated in an ethnocentric state of consciousness – I feel a sense of belonging and connection to my “tribe” but separate and better than those that have different belief’s religion, political view-point, culture etc. Kenneth Wilbur’s research indicates that 70% of the world’s population is in an ethnocentric stage of moral and ego development. Is it any wonder that we are collectively in the trouble we are currently experiencing with the global financial meltdown, income disparities in the US, international and cultural conflicts to name but a few? When combined with superior technologies in the form of weapons and economic power, and mixed with high levels of cognitive intelligence, an ethnocentric group tends to serve the goals of its members at the expense of others while convinced their beliefs and actions are moral and “self”-righteous. The result; unending conflict with more and more sophisticated tools to use for defense and applying against the “out” groups. Which seems to be one of the recurring themes and dilemmas we are living though today.
With technology reaching warp speed and our collective moral and ego development lagging far behind we all have our work to do! Maria Von Franz widely recognized as a foremost authority in psychoanalytic theory wrote that “Specialization leads to ego inflation” In other words the more specialized a person’s knowledge is, the greater the risk of hubris. She cautions we all need to be vigilant against ego inflation. For when we become well-educated or successful we can be too easily be seduced into thinking that we are better than others because of: our looks, degrees, success, religion political view points etc. This feeling of superiority or arrogance can and does lead to treating others not like us in inhumane and inequitable ways .
Von Franz, at the end of her life warned: “The greatest threat to civilization is ego inflation” So, is there hope for the world? Carl Jung’s answer to this is: There is hope for the world if enough people do their work – their inner work. As Einstein stated, the thinking that got us into trouble will not get us out. If enough people and leaders grow or develop to a more world-centric or it’s about all of us view and internal compass; I believe too; there is hope for the world. In every crisis there is an opportunity for growth. Currently we are fast approaching the point when the pain of not changing is becoming greater than the fear of change. The time is now for each of us in our own unique ways to become part of the solution. You will find your leadership at the intersection of the world’s needs and your talents. Listen to your heart.
Nov. 5, 2011