Pop Culture Prepares Us for Fresh Look at Good, Evil

“Find your way from darkness to light.”

Knight of Cups Official Trailer #1 (2015) - Christian Bale, Natalie Portman Movie HD

“There has been an awakening, have you felt it? The dark side and the light.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Teaser

We’ve long been aware of both a light and a dark, but lately we seem to be becoming aware of their coexistence in everything. Both trailers point to an emergence from duality into a non-duality in our collective unconscious. What is non-duality? As Jeff Foster puts it,

‘Non-duality’ is actually a translation of the Sanskrit word ‘Advaita’, which simply means ‘not two’ and points to the essential oneness (wholeness, completeness, unity) of life, a wholeness which exists here and now, prior to any apparent separation.

A character in “Knight of Cups” hauntingly says, “No one cares about reality any more …” Duality has worn us out. We’ve seen so much hypocrisy and corruption in everything that we’re no longer shocked by anything.

So, what does a world without simplistic notions of good an evil, right and wrong and black and white look like? It’s an interesting question. To my mind, it’s the first step into a more sophisticated adulthood and a mantle of leadership where “if, and” rule.

New managers are taught about the “halo” effect; that we can fall into distorted thinking where anything the “exemplar” employee does is awesome, but the “trouble maker” only seems to get into more trouble. Non-duality is a huge step past a Theory X management style of pain as a form of motivation. We are collectively beginning to see people, places and things as being more than “good” or “bad.” Non-duality is ultimately the first step towards personal accountability.

Cisco, Uber, and Lululemon have been derided for their “negative” company cultures in recent weeks, not to mention perennial whipping posts Bank of America, Monsanto, Walmart, BP and Citibank. Where does Apple fit into this?

When I was in college, Microsoft was the “evil” corporation and Apple the young, punky rebel. Funny how those perceptions have swapped.

I ask my students at the start of each class, “Are corporations evil?”

I believe this push towards non-duality maybe the single most important growth step in human history. If we can get past simplistic notions of “good” and “bad” then we have a real chance at evolving and not simply revolving.

The Care and Tending of Systems — The Rise of Meta Management

All systems (in an effort to battle entropy) tend to do three things:

  1. Increase in complexity over time.
  2. Solidify control over power, money, and resources.
  3. Become detached from the experience of otherness… live in a bubble.

It’s natural.

In this ongoing battle against entropy, systems also tend to become incestuous and corrupt as they consolidate power and increases in complexity. This is why so much of our storytelling shows us heroes who learn to be self sacrificing.

Many people believe we’re at a point of corruption here in the U.S. (and to a larger extent the Western world as a whole) and that may be so, but revolution isn’t the answer. Revolution is simply a turn in the existing system. Rebels are a part of the system trying to self correct, not outside the system. Like children they’re pleading, “Mommy make the bad man stop!”

We seem to be preparing for a major systems failure: financial, political, ecological and social …

Various movie franchises are preparing the next generation of leaders on how to deal with systems both light and dark:

“Star Wars” — Rebellion against a corrupt system

“The Hunger Games” — Rebellion against a corrupt system

“Star Trek” — Defend a healthy system both within and without

“Harry Potter” — Defend a healthy system both within and without

“Divergent” — Outside the system altogether as it splits into two factions, ostensibly one faction is better than the other, but it’s ambiguous to a degree, so they’re (the Divergent) not on either side.

Truly divergent! I like it.

We need leaders that are truly divergent. In it, but not of it. Not rebels, not defenders of the status quo.

If every system is made up of both light and shadow, how do we know right from wrong? How do we hold systems and people accountable? How do we evolve systems and not simply rebel against them?

These are the entry questions to a worthy discussion.

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