Order, Disorder, & Reorder ~ Richard Rohr
Thesis, Antithesis, & Synthesis ~ George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
A Long Time Ago in a Land Far…
For thousands of years, civilizations have experienced a pattern of change. According to author Richard Rohr, he believes we experience a time of order where things are settled and stable. Then something happens, a crisis, a war, a societal event that disrupts the stability and we shift into a period of chaos and uncertainty. Eventually a reorder, or new order is established and it restores a sense of stability.
I would describe the present period as a chaotic time filled with uncertainty.
George Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, the German philosopher, described a similar pattern of change. He referred to it as Thesis, Antithesis, and then Synthesis. He said that these are the three phases of the evolutionary process of the human spirit that repeats itself in search of truth. Thesis stands for a theory that is widely accepted (the norm). Antithesis is a opposition or negation of the current theory. Synthesis represents a new theory that synthesizes both views even though they are opposing.
It Is The Worst of Times…
Each time we experience a period of chaos or antithesis, people believe that THIS is THEE most difficult time in the history of mankind. Since the beginning of mankind, every generation has been faced with challenges. Each generation believed that it was the worst of times. Ironically, this is exactly what the previous generations had thought, and what each subsequent generation will believe.
A small caveat on the current times, is the greed-driven media and social media platforms promoting fear, chaos, and separation, in order to gain revenue instead of informing. Their greed magnifies the intensity of the fear.
If you think back to the Pre-World War I & II time periods, imagine the fear that must have been running rampant throughout the world as we headed for world destruction. Was that not a time of great fear and uncertainty? Is it really on par with the same level of fear we experience today or does the media catastrophize everything?
As we move forward as a society, we are always striving to achieve some sense of stability or certainty. As human beings, we simply do not do well with chaos or uncertainty. Maybe it is the fear of the unknown or our inability to be in control that frightens us most.
Is it possible to look at history and see a pattern? An over-arching pattern that can give us some sense of certainty that can help us navigate these uncertain times?
A Pendulum-Like Timeline
A few months ago, I was listening to a gentlemen by the name of Tom Catlin speaking about the evolution of mankind. He shared the following timeline with the group. It speaks to a pattern, that over time, swings between good and not-so-good, lightness and darkness, and order, disorder, and reorder.
- The Age of Masters – Buddha, Jesus, and Mohammed, came to be. The Republic of Greece and Rome rose and fell, and we made great advancements in civilization in many ways.
- The Dark Ages – The Middle Ages characterized by feudalism, ignorance, famine, pandemics, and the Black Death. A collapse in trade networks as a result of political fragmentation which helped create the fall of Rome. The Crusades, the Roman Catholic Church’s growth, greed, and abuse of power.
- The Renaissance – A time of great advancement. A time of Chaucer, Descartes, Galileo, Davinci, Shakespeare, & Michelangelo. Explorers like Magellan, Columbus, Vespucci, Ponce de Leon. The Protestant Reformation.
- First Half of the 20th Century – A time of great difficulty for humanity, plagued by two horrific World Wars (100,000,000 deaths), the likes of Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, the Holocaust, and beginnings of the Cold War. The atomic bomb.
- The New Age – Second Half of the 20th Century – A time of spirituality, the Human Potential Movement, a more holistic view of divinity. The “hippie” culture, love, peace not war, the fight against racism, segregation, and human rights. The Age of Aquarius. The unification of science and spirituality.
- The Current Time – If you’re reading this, I don’t need to dwell here and we are experiencing a time of disorder. Political party divisions reflecting the divisiveness in our country and the world. Pandemics, violence, border issues, and an overall sense of anger amongst a country and world that is divided.
As you can see, for thousands of years there has been a pendulum-like movement between growth and decline, lightness and darkness, and fear and love.
We are simply in the midst of a reorder. And while it can be frightening at times, can we not look to history and know that we are in a transformative time, moving towards a new order, back to a time of peace and understanding?
I guess I am just not willing to give up on mankind. As bad as the media and our politicians want to make it, I do not believe we are as fragmented as they tell us we are. In fact I think we are more alike then we are different.
If we can wake up to the truth that we are all connected, that we are all part of one race, – the human race, then maybe just maybe we can move the pendulum out’ve chaos sooner, and into a new order.
The order which the Great Masters had wished for the world those few thousands of years ago.