Inhabit: Your Democracy

Corey deVos Free, Inhabit, Perspectives, Politics, Video 10 Comments



n this very special episode of Inhabit, Ryan and I focus on one of the most essential elements of any Integral Life Practice — directly engaging your democratic systems and showing up to cast your vote.

Watch as Ryan and I discuss the following:

  • Why it’s never a good idea to base our electoral decisions on the current state of the culture wars
  • Why it’s important to differentiate “politics” from “governance”
  • Why it’s important to differentiate ordinary people on the left and the right from the social holons of Democratic and GOP political parties.
  • Can a person’s political views be used to assess their overall development?
  • Can a solidly integral person be a Trump supporter? (Spoiler: of course they can.)

I also offer an in-depth exploration of cynicism — how to recognize it in our own lives, and how we can escape its corrosive influence. We do this by drilling down to a more fundamental polarity — the “trust but verify” polarity, which shows how trust and assumptions of good-faith should be integrated with healthy skepticism and critical thinking. But when this polarity becomes disintegrated and balkanized, it inevitably takes us into the negative poles of naïveté and cynicism. The good news is, by understanding this core polarity we can wrap some healthy guardrails around our own enactment of political reality, and catch ourselves when we feel ourselves sliding toward one of these unhealthy poles.

Why is this important? “Corruption” and “cynicism” are related in many important ways. Many of us feel like our cynicism is a natural response to corruption — why should we trust a system that is so obviously rigged against us? However, the opposite is equally if not more true: it’s not so much that corruption results in cynicism, but rather cynicism creates a vacuum that gets immediately fillled with corruption.

Which makes “escaping cynicism” absolutely paramount right now, as it is one of the most significant obstacles preventing so many of us from fully inhabiting this democracy, making our voices heard, and choosing the deliberately-partial actions and decisions required to move the political pendulum where it needs to go, rather than waiting for the world to catch up with us before we are willing to participate.

Finally, I take a few moments to present my own “3-Point Plan to Save Democracy” — the three most critical systemic changes we need to make in the Lower-Right quadrant in order to restore healthy political enfoldment, de-escalate the culture wars, and rehabilitate our democracy. You don’t want to miss that.

We hope you enjoy this episode! Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Written by Corey deVos
Music by Justin Miles and Stuart Davis

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These chaotic times bring us in touch with what matters most, whispers of death and rebirth, as our global life conditions passionately usher us toward all of what could be, of what wants to emerge in your life.

Emerge is a new training program by Ryan Oelke, offering a thoughtful 3-phase process that will empower you to fully inhabit your experience, more deeply relate in real-time to life, and to formulate agile paths of response and action. With this embodied integral training, you will both be more passionately inspired from the core of your being and you will more successfully see the change, experiences, and results you and we long for and need in this moment and in the future.

Learn how Emerge can help you find traction for your transformation

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.

Ryan Oelke

About Ryan Oelke

Ryan Oelke is a co-founder of Buddhist Geeks and founder of Awakening in Life. He has an MSEd in counseling psychology and is contemplative teacher of awakening, healing, and embodiment. He has 18 years experience in meditation, particularly in the Tibetan Buddhist and Dzogchen lineages, he is a Buddhist Geeks teacher, and is a fully certified teacher in Judith Blackstone’s Realization Process. Ryan teaches meditation and a way of living dedicated to revealing natural presence and awakening in each moment of our lives, regardless of how it appears to us. He lives in the beautiful mountains of Asheville, NC with his partner Alyssa and stepdaughter Fiona.

Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for Mbohu Mbohu says:

    As always: great! I do have to admit though, that it was funny as well as refreshing to see how passionate you are about these topics, Corey! I think Ryan got just a little short-changed in terms of air-time? :smile:
    Your comment about nationalism sparked some thoughts and I will create another separate topic, asking people to help me out on this, as I have real trouble with this topic–so hopefully I can have a similar epiphany as you. I agree about the draft, by the way, but believe there should be a non-violent and even non-gun related option offered. I know many people in my own birth country who had to go through a lot of trouble–including jail–because they could not agree to be trained in violence, before that country offered a non-violent option without having to go through a commission trying to discern if you were essentially willing to let your family die without defending it, so that you could choose the non-military service.

  2. Haha I think he may have too, and I think I even apologized to him afterward for being such a narcissist :slight_smile:

    And I hear you on the violence issue. And to be clear, I think it’s important to familiarize people with firearms in this country, so we can stop fetishizing them and/or pushing them into shadow. And my hope would be that after a single generation doing this sort of training, we see fewer allergies and addictions around violence, and therefore fewer people who would forcibly opt out of something like that. And the service itself would be entirely non-violent – it doesn’t need to be a military service, even if it has some martial aspects. But when it comes to this sort of gun training, maybe there needs to be a transition to help with the concerns you mention. To me, as long as we get 80% or so of young men and women to respect and operate a firearm, I think we’ll see a much healthier (and far less violent) culture as a result.

    And thank you for the comments!

  3. I didn’t listen to this Inhabit episode, so my comments might reflect that. While I agree with a National Service of some kind, I don’t believe it needs to be militarized service and I’m with Mbohu on preferring a non-violent and non-gun-related option. I don’t think anyone should ever be required by law to operate a firearm, and if they are, then they should also be required to become medics and grief counselors and such. I do think there should be some basic requirements for people who choose to own guns, including training in their use where appropriate.

    While we are now and have been in the past a martial country, and will be for a long time in the future, once you take the option or possibility for a non-war-like and non-violent future off the table, we’re lost, I think. We have to imagine greater possibilities, such as peace and non-violence, and I would support those kind of efforts being a part of a National Service–training people in things such as negotiation skills, conflict resolution, mediation, anger management, etc. etc. (along with the military option for those who volunteer). My idea for National Service would allow for people to have some choice in the matter, maybe aligning service assignments with the different cabinet departments, e.g. energy, agriculture, state, treasury, etc. along with defense. I don’t think National Service and forced training/use of firearms to combat cultural violence should be combined; to me, they are totally separate issues.

  4. lol, I think I prefer Corey talking a bit more than me, he often has thoughtful presentations in mind to include, whereas I generally just flap my gums :wink:

    I really like Corey’s idea and also what you’re saying here about mandatory, national service time. Perhaps for me, one way to maintain the gun aspect but not require someone to have it be a focal point in their service: make everyone go through basic gun training, but past that they can have the option to serve in whatever we feels best towards national efforts and supports. Even aside from the gun issue, the needs of the nation are many, people’s dispositions are varied, and everyone would be served by having the options like what LaWanna mentions below, and also would probably lead to better civic awareness. Having basic gun training that is substantial would provide everyone with a more mature relationship to guns, and can be done in the spirit of “even if you don’t serve in a military or national guard position, you are prepared to do so in case the country needs it.” I suspect it would accomplish what Corey was…gunning for…here, but also accommodate those who feel more comfortable in non-violent roles, but also who simply have gifts in other ways that would very much carry the spirit of serving your country, but in healthy ways.

  5. Hi isabel, thanks for engaging on this topic. I appreciate and actually agree with a number of your statements. I come at this topic from a number of different perspectives.

    I grew up in a rural area in a family of hunters who put food on the table, and a family of law enforcement officers, including my mother who carried a gun, so I am not divorced from the realm of firearms. Even as a child, I personally disliked firearms; chalk it up to something in my specific nature, or karma, or perhaps I was pre-cognitively aware of all the tragedy I would observe in life around firearms.

    I was 13 the first time I observed someone killed by a gun, a 12-year-old boy by his same-aged friend while they were rabbit hunting. I was 19 when my boyfriend committed suicide by gun. My sister-in-law was murdered with a rifle by an 18-year-old boy having his first psychotic break. On and on, including twice having a loaded gun pointed at me, both times by disturbed people I encountered in first-time counseling sessions. On and on… So I suppose these are examples of why I would suggest, not that “guns automatically equate to grief and trauma” but that they certainly can lead there.

    Undoubtedly, I have some shadow material yet around gun tragedies, but that does not account for the full story.

    In the Inhabit episode, Corey mentioned that this country was “founded at the end of a gun,” referring I assume to the American Revolution in which the colonists won independence from British rule, and you state that ‘…civilian militias are a foundation of the United States…’ You are both right, of course. But I wonder if your rightness might also be a partial formulation, as also at the end of that gun and the “target” of some of those civilian militias were Native Americans (of which I am a part, which is neither here nor there, but I suppose it’s pertinent, so I’ll own it). A close study of history details the gun trade by the British, the French, and the new Americans as a large factor in intertribal warfare, helping with the decimation/genocide of Indians. So it is true that this country was founded at the end of a gun, but the civilian-militias/colonists’ guns were pointing in two directions, and one of those directions was certainly less noble than the other.

    The difference between death by car or butcher knife, and death by guns, is that, obviously, guns are intended specifically for killing or harming, or threatening such; that is the sole nature of their being. If you read my initial post carefully, you will see that my statement was about a preference for a “non-violent and non-gun-related option” for a National Service. Emphasis on option, choice. I do believe people should have freedom to choose whether or not they operate a firearm. If some people choose to, that is fine with me; I am not proposing taking away 2nd amendment rights or self-defense, although studies suggest that how often and to what effect guns aid in self-defense in instances of violence is highly debatable. I would indeed like to see a few gun reforms in this country. For instance, Congress has prohibited the Centers for Disease Control from even researching/studying the subject of gun violence and its prevention; something fishy there, it seems.

    I think I’m pretty familiar with gun data, in the U.S. at least. I’m not familiar with Switzerland’s policies, which I will have to research. In 2017, there were 39,773 deaths by firearms in the U.S. About 60% of these were suicides, about 37% or 14,542 were homicides, and the remainder were accidents. I used to think these numbers were exorbitantly high, and they are compared to 22 other developed countries, but in a population of over 300 million, I have come to hold them in a better perspective.

    I don’t see how requiring everyone to know how to operate a firearm, or to own one, is going to reduce the suicide numbers, particularly given that there is a very strong association/correlation between household gun ownership and overall suicide rates and gun-suicide rates. Gun-homicides in the U.S. are highly correlated with gang violence in metro areas, and the underlying social-economic problems in these urban areas are not going to be solved, in my opinion, through a national program in firearm training and civil defense.

    I do think there are a lot of people who are psychologically and socially undeveloped, not necessarily “predators” or suffering from psychopathy, but people who would benefit from some of the “softer” approaches I am suggesting. And like you, I think there are “violent predators who lack basic empathy…” but I am personally fine, at least at this time, with leaving their handling to law enforcement, the mental health and judicial systems, and yes, our standing armies (although I too think there is a lot wrong with the current ‘military-industrial complex.’ But I think the civil defense you’re suggesting and the National Service program Corey and Ryan were discussing are two different things.)

    Sometimes counterintuitive measures work and I support them, but addressing cultural violence or allergies and addictions to guns through a program of required firearm training or ownership for everyone is not one of those times, not something I can get behind. If firearm training worked, we wouldn’t have ex-Marines as members of militias planning to kidnap governors; we wouldn’t have ex-military committing mass shootings on army bases, police officers killing unarmed people.

    As for whether this is a moral issue for me, yes, it is. If people have the right by law to bear arms, it is only fair and just that people also have the right by law not to bear arms.

    But more than a secular moral issue, I base my statements about a National Service that allows for a non-violent, non-gun-related option on a personal vision of the future. I have not given up hope on a turn-around through consciousness development towards more sanity, love, and peace.

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