Dear Hong Kong, May the Force Be with You: A Letter from Two Adopted Sons
In Star Wars (1977), Master Obi-Wan Kenobi defined “The Force” as “The energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, and binds the galaxy together.”
If he were alive, David R. Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D. who wrote Power vs. Force, https://www.amazon.com/Power–Force–David–Hawkins-M-D/dp/1401945074, would probably say something like:
“The Force, a ubiquitous energy field? Absolutely, but I would describe it a bit less poetically. The energy field to which Obi-Wan refers is consciousness. It sounds like a pleasant and harmless word, but please be mindful that consciousness, and Obi-Wan’s Force, comprise both positive and negative dimensions. The benediction, ‘May the Force be with you’ conjures both. It is therefore incumbent upon us all to knowingly choose which side of it we will let drive our thoughts and actions.”
Hawkins, knew a thing or two about consciousness, especially as it relates to the world of human affairs. He researched it rigorously for over twenty years and developed what he called a Map of Consciousness.[Office1]
He represented the results of his work as a “practical map” of calibrated energy fields associated with human consciousness using a logarithmic scale that runs from zero to twenty, a level Hawkins labels, Shame, up to between seven hundred and a thousand, where it becomes Enlightenment. See the complete Map for further understanding. [Office2]
Hawkins asserts that all energy levels between zero and twenty (Shame), and one hundred seventy five (Pride) are catabolic, or life consuming; and those at two hundred (Courage) and aboveare anabolic, or life enhancing. He says further that below the level of Courage people are focused on their personal survival, and above it, the well being of others takes on an expanding significance.
Translated into how Hawkins uses his concepts of Power and Force this means that:
- Consciousness levels 0-199 are associated with the use and/or application of Force.
- Consciousness levels at or > 200 are associated with the use and/or application of Power.
It is easy to see that the 200 level (Courage) in his taxonomy represents an important boundary, the practical implications of which are worth pondering. How might we promote or facilitate opportunities for others and ourselves to experience what Courage, particularly psychological or moral courage, feels like, its effects, and consequences? What are the potential second, third, and fourth order effects of this kind of Courage?
Coming around to the point…this is a blog that’s supposed to be about improving organizations. How do the opaque references in the title to “Star Wars”, Hong Kong, and levels of consciousness relate to, or move anything in the direction of organizational improvement?
In the geopolitical sphere recent events in Hong Kong provide an unusually clear and vivid answer as they demonstrate Hawkins’ concepts of Power and Force, the two segments of his graduated “Map of Consciousness”, and also the two sides, negative and positive, of The Force of “Star Wars” fame.
Geopolitics is not however, the sole province of Power and Force. They are played out daily, and demonstrated in observable behaviors, all around us, against us, for us, and by us…in groups of people (two or more = a group), in relationships, and most certainly, in organizations.
Courage is an inalterable prerequisite for a long list of behaviors that many people say are prized in organizations, particularly as they relate to leadership behaviors including:
- Being willing to learn about others
- Admitting one’s own shortcomings and acknowledge others’ strengths
- Giving, soliciting, and receiving feedback
- Being present
- Taking responsibility for yourself and your behavior
- Being accountable
- Compromising instead of killing (literally or figuratively)
- Putting one’s self in new situations
- Taking steps beyond the threshold of one’s comfort zone
- Being willing to change one’s own opinions, and
- Working at facilitating instead of relying on old authoritarian ways and means to reach solutions to problems
What priority do we assign to explicitly requiring these behaviors and teaching them to the people we put in roles carrying the accountability to manage and provide decisive, value-adding leadership to others?
In Hong Kong, it is plain to see that one side of the conflict appears to operate well below Hawkins’ consciousness level of two hundred (Courage)…likely at, or about the one hundred level, a level of consciousness that Hawkins labels Fear.
Fear commonly manifests as some variation of force…physical or otherwise. It can show up as coercion, intimidation, neglect, avoidance, blame, ridicule, and anger to name a few. Force is traditionally defined as follows:
- Physical power or strength possessed by a living being.
- Strength or power exerted upon an object.
- Strength; energy; power; intensity.
- Power to influence, affect, or control.
- Unlawful violence threatened or committed against persons or property.
- Any influence or agency analogous to physical force.
Please take note of definitions 4-5-and-6. Are these not in full and complete view in Hong Kong spread all over the Internet, print media, and television worldwide for everyone to witness? This brand of energy typifies Hawkins’ Force. It is catabolic, life-consuming energy.
The other side’s behavior emanates, at a minimum, from the two hundred level of consciousness, Courage. Energy at this level is life-enhancing and arises from the positive side of Obi-Wan’s Force that Hawkins calls, Power.
Hawkins writes in Power vs. Force:
“Power arises from meaning. It has to do with motive, and it has to do with principle. Power is always associated with that which supports the significance of life itself. It appeals to that in human nature that we call noble, in contrast to force, which appeals to that which we call crass. Power appeals to that which uplifts, dignifies, and ennobles.
Force must always be justified, whereas power requires no justification. Force is associated with the partial, power with the whole. Force always moves against something, whereas power does not move against anything. Force is intrinsically incomplete and therefore has to constantly be fed energy.
Power is total and complete in and of itself and requires nothing from outside of itself. It makes no demands; it has no needs. Because force has an insatiable appetite, it constantly consumes.
Power, in contrast, energizes, gives forth, supplies, and supports. Power gives life and energy. Force takes these away. We notice that power is associated with compassion and makes us feel positively about ourselves. Force is associated with judgmentalism and tends to make us feel badly about ourselves.”
We are writing this blog post as a letter to Hong Kong from the perspective of two adopted sons. To be clear, we adopted Hong Kong rather than the converse. We did so for our own different reasons:
- Love of, and fascination with its romanticized and exotic history, the stuff of novels.
- Its energy, vibrancy, entrepreneurial spirit, the frenetic 24/7 pace that pulses with life, the air crackling with a hint of something exciting and a little bit dangerous, and perhaps above all,
- Admiration for the shining attribute of its ubiquitous pragmatism.
Above everything, the image, the hype, and yes, even the trouble; Hong Kong just works. Pragmatism drives Hong Kong, and left to its own devices, it hums along exceedingly well.
Protesting however, is not pragmatic. It’s a damnably hot and sweaty proposition in the city’s eighty-five plus percent humidity during the summer months. It’s tiring. It consumes the one free day a week that most people have from their jobs. And it is becoming an increasingly dangerous undertaking.
For 2.2 million very pragmatic people, roughly 30 percent of Hong Kong’s population, to take to the streets and march in a single protest, and for those protests to continue for week upon consecutive week despite tear-gas, pepper-spray, beatings, beanbag rounds, rubber and pepper bullets, physical attacks by Triad gangs, assaults by vehicles, stabbings, water cannoning, and even live ammunition fired over peoples’ heads…something very, very powerful is at work. As Hawkins says above, we believe that it is meaning and principle…Power.
The citizens of Hong Kong are displaying remarkable courage. They refuse to be subjugated by Force or the threat of Force. What’s happening represents more than just a little bit of danger. If Hong Kong loses this battle we will all be diminished. We all have skin in this game. We are all Hong Kongers today in the same way that we were all on the bus with Rosa parks in Montgomery in 1955, marched with the citizens of Prague in 1968, and celebrated at the Wall with Berliners in 1989. It is requisite to our humanity.
“It does not take a majority to prevail… but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”
~ Samuel Adams