Revolution or Evolution

Adapted from Cultural Maturity: A Guidebook for the Future

A critical question concerns how we should expect to experience Cultural Maturity’s changes: Put simply, is this revolution or evolution? Again, the answer is of a “both” sort. And again, necessarily, it stretches conventional understanding. Neither revolution nor evolution as we customarily think of them, even applied in combination, quite captures what Cultural Maturity’s very particular developmental/evolutionary changes ask of us. Again, we confront our Dilemma of Representation.

There are certainly ways in which Cultural Maturity is revolutionary. The changes that produce Cultural Maturity are more fundamental than anything we have seen before. The Dilemma of Trajectory presents a unique circumstance, and the developmental/evolutionary changes that mark Cultural Maturity’s threshold reorder our internal complexities in a wholly new, specifically integrative way. These are changes of a unique—and radical—sort.

But at the same time, just how the developmental/evolutionary changes that mark Cultural Maturity’s threshold are unique also makes them less explicitly disruptive than changes we encounter with other major developmental/evolutionary change points. Rather than breaking from the past in a traditionally heroic sense, they break new ground through being more complete. The appropriate imagery is certainly different from early America’s revolutionary armies, the overthrow of kingly rule in Europe, or more recently, bloody street clashes in the Middle East.

Our developmental metaphor again provides a simple reference.  “Growing up” in the first-half-of-life sense of becoming an adult requires revolutionary change in the traditional heroic sense. It is about emancipation—about stepping beyond the constraints of parental authority. Depending on how authoritarian our parents have been, this may not require overt rebellion. But if adolescents aren’t at least a bit rebellious, we should be concerned that they are not doing their (developmental) job.

Maturity in the second-half-of-life sense that provides Cultural Maturity’s analogy is ultimately more radical in that it represents a whole different kind of change. But it doesn’t require battle—we are already free. While midlife can be highly disorienting and we may make wholly transformative life changes, if now we must fight, it is only with our inner demons, fears that can keep us from maturely engaging our full potency. Second-half maturity in our personal lives requires greater awareness and new courage, but ultimately it is simply about seeing in more complete ways what, before now, we have not yet been ready to see.

Cultural Maturity is revolutionary. In the end, it couldn’t be more so.  But as with personal maturity, it is as much about inner revolution as outer revolution. This is not to make it about inner change as opposed to outer change. If we miss how it is about both, we fall for predictable conceptual traps. But Cultural Maturity is very much about fundamental changes at the level of who we are. With Cultural Maturity’s changes, there is no “other” to fight. Cultural Maturity is about becoming more complete in all our inner and outer understandings. It is also revolution that takes place not over weeks or months, but extends well out into the future. While we must engage Cultural Maturity’s initial requirements in short order if we are not to suffer most unfortunate consequences. in the end, its demands define the whole of our human future.