Center for Spiritual Inquiry and Integral Education

R. Michael Fisher
CSIIE's Role in Activist Work Today
by R. Michael Fisher - Friday, September 30, 2011, 10:41 AM

I just had an intense, sometimes painful, but eye-opening discussion with CSIIE Associates the other day. Topics came up like "sit-ins" on Wall Street, and "No Moe Coal" protests on SIUC campus, and threatening strikes by three unions (including faculty) on SIUC campus next week, and a colleague in Canada talked about similar activist revolts going on across the country as people are feeling "abused" and "victimized" by political policies and an 'end game' of winners and losers, with the top 1% of the population in the USA, for example, with 99% or the wealth (or close to it).

We discussed future scenarios. When the "boiling point" hits, what is going to happen? Where are desperate and poor people going to go? What's left as options? CSIIE is more than slightly interested in these unfolding political events. We see people hurting and fed-up in many levels and arenas, and we also know the powerful elite are not interested in "bargaining" in good faith, as they have for too long designed The Plan, and they hold the control of its policies, laws, and all of which has undermined "democracy." At least, that's what a lot of activists are feeling and thinking.

The real issue for CSIIE, is not to be involved in these protests or not. We have to be involved, as that's what being awake and responsible means, if we talk about an interest in transformation in the 21st century, and if we talk about new forms of critical pedagogy or fearlessness. The question we grappled with more was what are our individual assessments of the situation, and what strategies are most useful (if any)? We inquired into the potentiality of an "integral perspective" on this activism and world-change process. We didn't come to any agreement, and in some ways we had tensions, that revolved around "more analysis" and "more planning strategically" and, well, maybe that is all a waste of time and it is time to be consciously "violent" as the most just way to take down the small percentage of elites, for the benefit of a greater population. That seems logical and reasonable.

Then what does nonviolent protest mean, and liberation, and revolution? All these issues confront us at CSIIE, just like they confront others fighting on the streets. Yet, what does it mean to be an "integral" and "spiritual" based institute, an institute of research and education? Besides each of our own individual biases and experiences, all which are legitimate for what they are, I, as founder and Director of CSIIE, would like us to take this to a higher level beyond our own biases too. If we are to act as an institution of higher education in the 21st century, what principles, policies, and analysis do we need to have? How can we help create new knowledge, be creative with that knowledge, and even help "train" activists in these times ahead? What if we can help one individual who is deeply hurting and "trapped" in The System now? What is good enough, and what is just action for what the situation is in light of the context of our mission at CSIIE and our resources?

I have not envisioned that CSIIE would, at least for awhile, being the leading-edge of activism. I did envision us as being at that leading-edge in knowledge creation, from an integral perspective, based on a spiritual inquiry process. How to do that well, and make it applicable and teachable, with efficacious results, well... that's all a much bigger challenge. Whatever we do, or don't do, I trust in the process of CSIIE and our Associates and Faculty. I am going to keep listening. I am going to keep thinking of an integral solution, or many solutions, even if there is "no one solution" to this grand mess--no doubt, that's the truth.

If anything, CSIIE can be a place for analysis, for radical adult education, for souls of all kinds, great and modest, and those willing to face the fear and terror beyond denial. And CSIIE can be a place for healing and learning together. And CSIIE can be a place to experiment with more options than a frustrated Green v-meme Revolutionary imaginary. I say, it is time we being imagining a Yellow v-meme Revolution truly based on integral, fearlessness, fear management system-7, and all those good things I write about in my research but of which have yet hardly been tested in the field.

I invite my colleagues at CSIIE and friends of CSIIE, as well as all others, to occupy a "space" at CSIIE, with CSIIE, and guided by CSIIE, as best suits you and your work to take us through this upcoming very painful and challenging time. I'm here to be of service. I am yet clear of what to do.