Collective consciousness is one of the subjects of sociology. Homogeneous groups of people, whether of religions, ethnicities, political parties, or nations will tend to adopt shared ideologies or social standards that permeate and govern their attitudes and behavior. For example, most Americans consciously acknowledge and value democracy as the most favorable form of government. And within a large homogeneous group, there will be subsets of collective agreement that interpret or apply the shared ideologies or social standards in various ways, or from a different perspective, hence we have conservatives and liberals and independents. The size and strength of these subsets can rise and fade within the larger cohort as attitudes and sympathies shift and adjust due to various influencing factors, some of external causes and some from within.
One of the well-known ideologies of Ronald Reagan – “Government is not the solution to our problems. Government is the problem.” – appealed to a subset of our collective consciousness that made him one of the most popular presidents among political conservatives. Reagan’s ideology was often quoted in the most recent Republican primary campaigns as well as in the national presidential campaign. It is, indeed, a mantra of a conservative collective agreement. Someone might disagree with its ideological absolutism, but there’s nothing covert about this political view.
Even if its specific social and political implications are less than obvious, the notion that less government is better government is a clear, overt position, IF it is indeed consciously understood for what it is. We are more likely to change our conscious agreements, if we intelligently observe and evaluate the consequences of our agreements. As a nation, the electorate majority may or may not decide to support this supposition. As a result of the publicity surrounding the recent banking scandals, public opinion appears to have shifted back to a need for more governmental intervention and regulation.
Unfortunately, we are not always fully conscious. And if not, we may too easily allow ourselves to be triggered into our “survivalist” collective unconscious.
The collective unconscious is not the content of sociological science. First observed and defined by Carl Jung, we are most likely to hear it discussed in the realm of analytical psychology. Jung referred to the collective unconscious as “a reservoir of the experiences of our species.” He believed that the human species has an active unconscious code or instinct developed over many thousands if not millions of years and embedded deeply in our psyches. It is not that much different in its origins and function from the primitive survival instincts of other living creatures. Aggressive “survivalism” is basic to our most primal nature, well hidden just under our “civilized” conscious surface. When feeling fearful and threatened, we can be triggered and converted into hostile actions against differing members of the human race. Given perceived threatening events, it is not difficult to capitalize on our primitive collective unconscious and then to incite a vengeful collective agreement to support of an aggressive attack on the perceived threatening peoples, even against a society or country that posed no real threat. We have a lot of evidence of this aggressive nature throughout history, and many adroit and powerful leaders have exploited it to their own end. Adolph Hitler is viewed as one of the consummate masters of the technique.
The events of September 11, 2001 created a political opportunity to incite a revengeful collective consciousness that became the driving force behind our invasion of Iraq, the re-election of George W. Bush in 2004, and support for many of the Bush administration’s questionable policies. Since “9/11” and our county’s international response to the events of that day, many of us became, with increasing intensity, “news junkies”, and hence, drawn into an unfortunate and self-defeating collective agreement that triggered a deeper, more primitive instinct. One of George W. Bush’s stated campaign goals was to “unite the country”. And he did. With the complying assistance of a media that thrives on bad news, the Bush administration triggered our primitive, survivalist collective unconscious through the escalation of fear and desperation in order to create the political capital for the support of the “war on terrorism” as well as the justification for some of the re-interpretations of our constitution and our agreements with the Geneva Convention.
As with most Americans, my personal “addiction” to the political news reached its highest point of captivation with the 2008 presidential campaigns and election. In retrospect, my personal vigilance of our political situation was fed by the frenzy of speculation that permeated our news media. My personal obsession with politics over the past seven years was driven to a great extent by my increasing concern with the consequences of the pathological level of fear and desperation being imbedded more and more deeply in our collective consciousness.
Were we being conditioned to consciously accept and expect worldwide conflict? Were we becoming psychologically conditioned to accept, and perhaps take for granted our hostility and aggression toward anyone with a different collective consciousness? Were we being conditioned to win “the war on terrorism” at any cost, including the forfeiture of our country’s longstanding values and integrity, even our own personal rights and freedoms? Were we being conditioned to expect, even initiate Armageddon?
Most of the commercial media thrives on bad news, because its producers and sponsors understand very well how we feed on the drama and how well it sells the “good news” offered in commercial advertising. The election of Barack Obama reflected a shift toward optimism and hope. But it did not take long for the media to shift its focus from the Bush drama and begin its amplification of the slightest potential controversy or conflict or challenge within Barack Obama’s next cabinet appointment or the Republican opposition to his economic recovery plan. One of the most audacious and influential of the conservative media personalities has arrogantly declared his hope for Obama’s failure as our country struggles to recover from the abysmal legacy of the previous administration that he, the media personality, supported. And the rest of the media swarmed to the story like ravenous sea gulls attracted to a bloated beached whale.
Are we we fascinated with obnoxious people? Are hooked on bad news? Are we addicted to, even anticipating the drama of a catastrophic horror story? Do we unconsciously want the excitement of a bloody fight or even Armageddon?
To often it seems that just as we begin our recovery from one catastrophe, some part of our fascination with anticipating the next misfortune draws us into a gaper’s block. For sixty years of my memory, seemingly every opportunity was taken by some hysterical evangelicals to revive the “fear of God” in all of us by pointing to the prophetic biblical signs of the inevitable certainty and proximity of Armageddon. The present perception of worldwide woe provides no exception to this opportunism. The History Channel recently got into the act and aired a series of programs on the “signs pointing to Armageddon”. Even among some of my new age friends, there wafts rather quiet, almost whispered speculations of the implications of the end of the Myan calendar in December 2012.
And then there’s “The Web Bot Project.” Created in the 1990’s to help predict stock market trends, this powerful covert technology “crawls” throughout the Internet in search of keywords that trigger an analysis of the content of a given site. It then feeds this content into a mega computer that theoretically taps into the collective consciousness of our world. The project was intended to look for, analyze, and highlight “tipping points” on how the world market might move in the future. Interestingly, the operators of the project began to notice that the program was predicting more than trends in the stock markets.
In June of 2001, three months before the attacks of September 11, the Web Bot Project predicted that within the next 60-90 days there would be a catastrophic, life-altering event that would affect the world at large. The Project has predicted, coincidentally similar to the Myan Calendar, worldwide calamity near the end of 2012. Theoretically, the Web Bot Project made its predictions based not on objective events or scientific trends but on a global collective fatalism. It might be a temptation to blame the Bot Project prediction for potentially inciting hysteria through “digital hyperbole”. The mega computer of the Bot Project has no vested interest in creating panic. It is our collective consciousness, our collective consumption of catastrophic drama and hysteria that is driving the prediction.
Are we doomed by our own worldwide collective fatalism? Are we self-condemned to create our own Armageddon?
During the seven years that followed 9/11, the collective consciousness of the American people gradually shifted away from support of the war and the oppression of Bush administration. This shift was tipped by several factors, especially those close to home including the administrations botched handling of the devastation of hurricane Katrina. The long-term contradictions of the declaration of “mission accomplished”, the revelation and controversy of potentially illegal interrogation techniques, the apparent loss of our national integrity on an international level, and the blatant violations of the constitution and the law painfully wore thin on the American people. Ironically, our over-saturation of the continuous bad news appears to have overloaded our consciousness. Perhaps similar to the Schick Shadle method of aversion therapy, our collective frustration and exhaustion with our fear-driven survivalist aggression left a bad taste for more of the same. In its place was spawned a heightened desire for a positive, hopeful, peaceful change in direction. Barack Obama became a national phenomenon, a dominant collective agreement. This shift reached its summit in the 2008 elections, clearly evidenced by a record number of previously disenfranchised voters willing to stand in long lines for “torturously” long hours, not even certain they would make the polling deadline.
Fortunately, there is a lot more positive evidence that our collective consciousness has shifted. A majority of the American voters came to disapprove of the war in Iraq, and we voted in favor of change in the presidential election. Even with continuing bad news about the economy and intensified conflict in Afghanistan, there remains among the majority a sense of renewed optimism and hope for withdrawal from the war and our recovery from the economic recession.
I started writing this commentary a month before the elections of November 4. Looking back, it is remarkable how much my personal sense of wellbeing and hope has soared. The significance of the results of this election reflects a renewed consciousness that reaches well beyond its political implications.
As Barack Obama gave his victory address to a crowd of over 100,000 people in Grant Park in Chicago and his inaugural address to nearly three million in Washington, D.C., the television cameras captured the emotions of hundreds of faces. These were truly heart-warming, joyful images. Many cried for joy for the victory of hope over the oppression of the last eight years, but many tears were shed out of an overwhelming relief from the oppression of a collective agreement that once condoned legalized slavery and racial bigotry. This presidential election was the greatest conscious milestone for freedom and equality in this country since the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862-63. But even more significantly, the election of Barack Obama may represent the a significant shift in our collective consciousness, from our fascination with fear, drama, and dominance to a more positive spiritual alignment with nature, hope, peace, joy, acceptance, tolerance, and love.
Rhonda Byrne’s book and video, The Secret, first appeared in bookstores and online near the end of 2006. There appeared to be a coincidentally renewed interest in Wayne Dyer’s books and videos on The Power of Intention. Both received somewhat instantaneous attention. Oprah Winfrey interviewed several proponents and teachers of The Secret, making it the “talk of the town”. Almost immediately, everyone was talking about the power of attraction. Book and DVD sales skyrocketed. Law of Attractive support groups sprung up all over the country. It would be interesting to know just how many Americans created a “vision board” on their refrigerator doors or at the foot of their beds.
Less than two years after the release of The Secret in 2006, Oprah Winfrey co-produced an online study group focused on Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose. In A New Earth, Tolle exposes the pathology of the “collective ego”, and he points the way to a worldwide evolution of a new collective awareness. If we closely examine Jung’s collective unconscious and compare his observations with Eckhart Tolle’s collective ego and the pain-body, there are some striking similarities, the most significant among them the degree to which our collective thoughts determine our perspective and consequential actions.
The Law of Attraction, most simply put, states that “thought become things”. But our collective thoughts generate not only things but also our peace and prosperity. Our collective consciousness can create entire realities. It creates poverty or prosperity, harmony or conflict, peace or war, heaven or hell. Awareness and focused positive thought are the keys to the most joyful and fulfilling of what we create.
If we are to create prosperity, harmony, peace, and heaven on earth, we first must be believe that we can. And we must shift our focus, our awareness on prosperity, harmony, peace, and the state of heaven on earth – not on fear, despair and catastrophe. This is not Pollyanna. We do, indeed, create our own reality, and the collective conscience is the most powerful application of the law of attraction. Among my more spiritually focused friends, there’s considerable speculation about an evolving spiritual “enlightenment”, a “new hopeful consciousness”. The fact that someone as popular and “household” as Oprah Winfrey would risk here enormous success on featuring such controversial philosophy as that of The Secret or Eckhart Tolle’s “Power of Now” is clear evidence of some kind of significant shift in populous trends. This is our only hope for our recovery from the worldwide distress and the conflicts that threaten not only our peace but our survival. We must engage in a deliberate and conscious spiritual process; that is, it must come from the deepest part of our souls, from that part of us that is universal Spirit – our source of and connection with hope, peace, and love.
Chuck Jennings has over thirty years experience assisting individuals make successful and meaningful life transitions through wellness, self-esteem, self-confidence, and spiritual recovery. He has helped thousands of individuals define and achieve career goals. He practices a holistic approach to life coaching. He believes that transitions through life issues must be addressed on multiple levels, including the physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual levels.
Life Coach Chuck is certified by the Life Coaching Institute and is a member of the International Coach Federation and a contributing expert to SelfGrowth.Com. Chuck has been awarded his B.A., M.A., M.F.A., and a Diploma of Life Coaching. He has forty years experience as a university professor in the arts, as well as fourteen years administrative and managerial experience in the academic environment.
Chuck enjoys the challenges and adventures of life lived to the fullest. At the age when most persons might slow the pace of their lives, Chuck considers his life the most exciting and interesting. At 59 years, he changed his career, and he took on a life-long dream to become an accomplished and skilled pilot. His optimistic confidence generously spills over into his practice as a life coach, encouraging his clients to pursue their passions and to never assume a dream as unattainable. His life and what he offers his clients are splendid examples of the power of the law of attraction.