Why fake news is here to stay, and 5 ways to deal with it.

The phenomenon that we call fake news will not go away. We often associate fake news with malicious schemers manipulating media, but that’s only part of it, rather a consequence. It is much more a symptom of social evolution and the result of societal and technological developments leading to the erosion of meaning. But we can do something to deal with it. A system-psychological exploration.

It must have happened some time at the beginning of this century, at the time of the cringe comedy The Office. The moment that satire stopped being the exaggeration of reality, but rather became the representation of reality. Who doesn’t recognize the scenes from The Office, the discussions with managers like David Brent, from personal experience? The Office was a sign that the times of parody and satire were over, long past the heydays of Yes Minister and Spitting Image. Following on from The Office, the emergence of another phenomenon – reality TV – was a logical next step. Why ridicule someone else if they can do it much better themselves? Enter: Big Brother.

In January 2018, actor Alec Baldwin, who imitated Donald Trump at Saturday Night Live (SNL), gave an interview about the record-breaking viewing figures. Baldwin says that Trump is not much fun to play; “He is tense, he is angry, he is pissed off.” And Baldwin explains that he just plays what the president says; “Another thing that I find strange about the things we do, we just repeat what he says … .!”

Another new trend in the media world? No, an expression of a fundamental tilt of consciousness, a transformation of giving meaning to information, to news. We are experiencing the erosion of the objectivity of news to the subjectification of news, and the emergence of the phenomenon of fake news.

The Dutch dictionary Van Dale defines fake news as: “News that is not based on truth, often deliberately distributed to influence public opinion”. That is a useless definition. It is nostalgic, longing for the time when one truth still existed; it is an attempt to control the phenomenon of fake news by defining it narrowly. It also creates the illusion that fake news will stop if we forbid it, if we silence these damned fake news distributors. Yet the problem is primarily that the frameworks used to interpret information have eroded and that some people abuse that.

There are a number of parallel developments in technology, social relationships, and consciousness, that indicate that fake news is here to stay; developments that signify that news and information will never be the same again. In fact, the question is whether we can objectively distinguish fake news from “real” news. The Dutch periodical “De Speld” has been publishing ridiculous fake news with fervor daily since 2007, yet their news is regularly seen as real news. What? UEFA has issued a non-smoking policy for football matches that limits smoking to the center circle, it’s a disgrace!

Authority erosion

Modernity resulted in many authorities falling or being pushed off their pedestal. The convictions and opinions of the remaining authorities, be they doctors, professors or mayors, are hardly any more legitimate than yours and mine. In addition, increasing transparency has revealed more and more unsightly cases about the behavior of authorities that were previously hidden and that enabled us to maintain our illusions. This authority vacuum, has led us into a dangerous no-man’s-land of outrageous or megalomaniac leaders and pretentious or frustrated citizens. There are therefore fewer and fewer accepted authorities, and therefore fewer and fewer sources of accepted significance. Moreover, we increasingly see ourselves as an authority: it is just a pity that all those other individuals also think that they are authorities.

The overload of individualization

Baby boomers will certainly recognize the euphoria of the newly acquired individual liberties of the 60s and 70s. Individualization promised that everyone could be themselves. We had such great expectations; all those individual opinions that would replace the authoritarian frameworks. But do we now have our own autonomous wisdom? That remains to be seen. We are bombarded by advertisements, television, social media, sports competitions, and by peers, who tell us how we should be: unique and special. Because everything is measured and compared, we have to be better, more beautiful and more successful than the others. And this leads to a dichotomy: individualization does indeed have winners, but it also has very many losers. And the winners all look the same, not unique at all. Just look at the current uniformity among college students. The pretentions turned out to be hollow: the personal truth of the individual is often not sufficient to give meaning to life. In practice, no autonomy and individual wisdom has been created, but rather ambivalence: Who am I? As a result, we have less and less clarity and confidence, and that makes insecure. The neuroses and burnouts are booming.

Awareness creates reality

Quantum theory scientists, as well as psychologists and those with a spiritual interest, recognize that awareness creates reality. We see the truth of this daily in the media. In the past, if a sperm whale washed up on a beach, it would have local newsworthiness at best. Now it becomes a media hype that leads to parliamentary debates and legislation. And this is just one example in an endless series of smaller and larger things that derive their importance from their number of retweets rather than from their significance. This is what a mediacracy looks like.

Democratization of the news

News gathering and news publication are both almost fully democratized. Potentially, every citizen can play this dual role in relation to the news: he or she is both producer and consumer. Through Twitter, Facebook and iPhone and the many other platforms, everyone can record and publish anything. And in this narcissistic era, we crave to celebrate our personal moment of fame, as announced by Andy Warhol in 1968. News supplier and customer are becoming less and less distinguishable, as is action and response. This also creates a battle for attention, also among the established media, thereby risking a race-to-the-bottom.

Science weathering

Science, once the mecca of objectivity and knowledge, no longer has the authority it had. The Internet gives citizens access to almost the same sources as the scientist. The massive growth in the number of PhDs leads to major thematic fragmentation. Social scientists force themselves into an exact scientific framework that does not do them justice. Science must be refutable, thus science can never offer an objective foundation. Because, as Karl Popper said, objective science is only temporary, it is only the ‘truth’ until the contrary is proven. So, science as a meaning-providing phenomenon is also eroding.

Political confusion

If there is one area of our society where the subjectification of meaning has had a very disastrous effect, then it is politics. Almost every framework for a stable and nuanced interpretation is missing. This leads, by definition, to extremism and polarization. We must increasingly take polarization, derived from the Greek “polos”, pole, literally: the erosion of the content and the seizing of the extremes, the poles. Many major Western democracies have witnessed this phenomenon, which usually leads to stalemates. Consider, for example, Brexit and the American “shutdowns”. In order to be heard, every politician and every party has become louder and louder and has taken up more extreme positions. In every election, old positions are exchanged for new ones. Of course, this only contributes to the growth of chaos. That is why politics is increasing criticized and why confidence in it is falling. This criticism, however, ignores an important point: politicians are only partly to blame for this phenomenon. It is a symptom of a larger development.

Because of the political principle of the primacy of politics we cannot underestimate the significance of this. The primacy of politics describes the monopoly of parliamentary politics over what is of general interest and what the design of social development should look like. As such, politics reflects on everything in society and is thus the highest secular organ of society. But this highest authority does not fundamentally reflect on itself. If politics is not aware that the self is also subject to autonomous social development, subject to the primacy of the development of consciousness, it creates a blind spot. This is often a psychological defense mechanism. What would happen if the blind spot were not there? If politics were no longer in charge of everything, but was also the subject of development, what are they in charge of exactly? Then suddenly the question of the legitimacy of political power can be raised. Political primacy is either valid or not valid: it cannot be partly valid, just as a woman cannot be a bit pregnant. If political primacy turns out to be untenable, why have we-the-people handed over so many powers? There seems to be little room for such self-reflection in politics.

In the absence of objective frames of reference, all news is subjective, and therefore all news is potentially “fake” news. As long as we continue to live under the illusion that truth and clarity exist, the malicious but also the foolish and the thoughtless will use this, either consciously or unconsciously, to further increase the confusion of those who are looking for the truth or to confirm them in their confused conviction.

What to do?

1. Look the beast in the eye

Stop thinking that it will pass. Stop moralizing fake news, unless there is obvious bad faith. Stop trying to outdo each other in indignation about fake news, but accept the phenomenon and come up with new ways of dealing with it. Give up the illusion of objectifiable information and truth. Because we are entering an exciting new paradigm, we must also be able to accept that we do not yet know exactly how to deal with it. That recognition is the first step. And let’s come up with a new language for these two concepts of the erosion of meaning and the deliberate manipulation of news.

2. Train, learn, develop, ……

What is obvious but is not yet being done on a large enough scale: learn, learn, learn to deal with the media. Children and adults, everyone. Information and communication are the oxygen and lubricating oil of this society. We all have to be highly skilled in dealing with this, we must be media savvy. We must understand that this tilting communication paradigm is just as fundamental to human progress as the arrival of the train and the car, the end of food scarcity and so on. We must accept that we must develop new, different and not yet existing concepts for the interpretation of information.

3. Observing

A crucial element of learning is developing our competence to observe, rather than thinking and feeling. These latter are not wrong “sensors”, but they are only of limited help to us. We need to learn what is recognized in psychology but also, for example, in Buddhism: to distinguish between what we observe, what we hear someone say, and how we understand it ourselves. We are used to saying “you hurt me” when someone tells us something disagreeable. We do not see the distinction between language and our interpretation of it. Observation means being open to that which shows itself without judging it. The advantage of observation is that it is easier to find common ground because it is more neutral, less determined by the individual and the past. Observation only “works” in the here and now: by observing in the here and now we can more easily “find” the other. Observation is not cool and distanced, it is empathetic and precise.

4. Adjusting behavior

A symptom of the fake news age is that our society has entered a kind of communicative regression: behavior that regresses into an earlier level of consciousness. Calm thoughtfulness, nuance and tolerance have disappeared. In addition, all information is available permanently and in real-time. The information bombardment we are exposed to every day, the scale and the speed of it, lead to an overload, and itself contributes to the regression. A characteristic of regressive behavior is that we respond more instinctively. We are triggered more by the limbic system where our instincts reside than by the frontal cortex where the ratio dwells. As a result, our attention focuses on pictures faster than on text. Faster on headlines and sound bites than on an article. Moreover, we respond faster to everything that has to do with poo, pee, sex, violence, rancidity and trivialities. There is more appeal to our primary instincts: sexuality and safety, desire and fear. Many media try to seduce us with these kinds of triggers, and we will have to learn to recognize that and to offer more resistance to it. Just as we had to learn to adjust our eating habits and eat healthily and moderately, or stop smoking, we can learn to ignore junk media. What we need, therefore, is discipline. Not a phenomenon that enjoys great popularity at this time, but still useful at the right time.

5. From neutral to partial: opt for honest subjectivity

In a society that does not recognize the phenomenon of the erosion of meaning, the scoundrels have the advantage. If we assume that we all regularly distribute information that can be interpreted as fake news, then we can also assume that the crooks are doing so consciously. However, the superficial viewer cannot recognize the scoundrel.

Take the example of Donald Trump’s struggle with respectable media such as the Washington Post and the New York Times. These media compete for the objectivity of news with an authority, with a person who regularly misuses the subjectification of news. We don’t understand why he gets away with his 8158 lies. The superficial viewer sees two parties accusing each other of fake news. And where two fight, two are to blame. This explains why Trump still has a relatively large following: his supporters merely see are two brawlers. They then opt for the querulant, for the outsider, just like themselves.

If we recognize the phenomenon of the erosion of meaning, serious media will have to accept that objectivity as the highest norm is a lost bastion. They will have to interpret more from pure perception: opting for honest and transparent subjectivity. This has considerable impact: they will have to accept that they are not only media in the literal sense of the word (that they serve to transfer information) but also party to the information they spread. It means giving up the claim to be right.

This may sound frightening, this apparent plea for relativism. It seems to be grist to the mill for Breitbarts and Fox News. That image is understandable, but not correct. It is essentially not relativism that I advocate. What I advocate is a reassessment of objectivism, beyond cognition, beyond emotion, into observation. My thesis is therefore another: in a world where we do not recognize the erosion of meaning, the crooks have an advantage. This thesis is not an ideological one, it is the result of a development that can be observed by everyone, just beyond ideology. As long as we continue to reason and communicate from an assumed but no longer existing objectivism, the erosion of meaning will increase first, and then the erosion of trust. No society can stand that.

Self-management, the puberty pimple of modernity.

Why self-management is a transient phenomenon, a system-psychological analysis.

In February 2015, VPRO’s TV show “Tegenlicht” expressed a long-felt societal desire: The End of the Manager. It seemed like the starting shot for self-management to become a hit in the Netherlands. The boost seemed to be a revival of a gently slumbering trend dating from the end of the 1970s: sociotechnology, as it was then called.

After a lot of initial engagement with self-management, many organizations are now backtracking, sometimes explicitly, but also quietly. Is this a great disillusionment or are we just “sadder but wiser”?

Where does the desire for self-management come from?

In a psychological sense, the self-management trend is a growth-related impulse or defensive reaction by people working in a system that they feel is too tight or frustrating. Liberation through self-management is an echo of what we call early childhood puberty and later adolescence. This is not meant ironically: in organizations, just as in humans, adolescence is a necessary phase towards individuation. C.G.Jung described individuation as the development of the “I” and the realization that others are different. That realization is very important and very necessary. As long as it doesn’t stop there, because it isonly a transition phase.

Just as with adolescence, self-management is better at knowing what it doesn’t want than what it does want. What it doesn’t want is a manager, and certainly not a “boss”. And what it does want, well ……, behold the countless training courses to make self-management really work! What is also striking is that the trend has a somewhat political and ideological twist. It has the appropriate light pathos of the proponents and their weary glances at the sceptics. The phenomenon occurs mainly in the public domain. The introduction of self-management is rarely preceded by very exhaustive diagnoses, and the decision to abolish the manager gives a wonderful, politically correct feeling. Oh, and by the way, we had to cut back anyway…..

We also recognize that adolescent nature in the concept itself: until recently the “self” was so promising, now it is becoming increasingly controversial. Spirituality and modern psychology, but also recent brain research, are giving more and more signals that the self is an illusion: a useful illusion perhaps, but an illusion none-the-less. And with the notion of “management” behind it, does it still have that perky character of the terrible-twos (Do it myself!)?

Doesn’t anyone who knows the complexity of organizations from the inside, know that in practice it is not about self-management but about network dependence and context awareness, and about an emerging future? What do you mean “self” – “management”?

I do not disagree that there is a phenomenon that is often confused with self-management: many organizations work in a state of ever-increasing complexity. They work in a turbulent force field with more and more contradictions and interdependencies, with “wicked problems”. A rigid framework does not work well in that environment. In such a context we must leave more room for individual intelligence and creativity, and give more confidence to professionals.

Self-management is about autonomy for the individual employee. It is clear that a certain degree of autonomy increases a sense of happiness in most social contexts in which we live and work. But what is autonomy?

Autonomy requires a certain level of maturity. A maturity in which I recognise that the “I” is no more than a set of my own opinions about what reality is, or how I think reality should actually be. With this autonomy, I am no longer sensitive to, for example, hierarchy. I can see that hierarchy is just a form of order, and I judge that order merely on its usefulness in achieving the goals of the organization in which I work.

In that state of awareness, I know what I am capable of and what not. I don’t always have to speak up during every participatory discussion; if everything has already been said, I can also remain silent. I contribute to the best of my ability, but I can also set limits. For example, I do not allow myself to be simply dragged into a culture of anxiety. In addition to my own assignments, I also feel some responsibility for the whole.

Adult autonomy means acting from the realization that there is an order, a system that we are part of, in a very banal way, as part of our every-day life. Realising that there is an order of family connections, organizational relationships, material resources and personal qualities that create a reality in which I have to live. This does not mean that there are no more emancipatory movements that justify my support. It does mean that I understand where malleability and social engineering starts and where they end. And it means that I know the difference between synchronicity and an individual hobby-horse or belief.

When I reconcile myself with that order, I experience maximum autonomy, maximum freedom.

Self-management is a (public) organization trend, full of the romantic images of adolescence; probably necessary for maturing, but usually of a temporary nature. Adult autonomy is free and sustainable. Self-management is a concept that we therefore only need before our evolution to adult autonomy, after which it loses its meaning.

Is een groter bewustzijn een beter bewustzijn?

Dit is een artikel naar aanleiding van “Het Leven Kent Geen Weg Terug” de Nederlandse vertaling van Wilfried Nelles’ boek “Das Leben hat keinen Rückwertsgang” door uitgeverij Noorderlicht (www.hetnoorderlicht.com).

Alles groeit, dus waarom ook het bewustzijn niet? Het groeit volgens Wilfried Nelles in stappen. Maar is dit grotere bewustzijn ook beter? Of is het gelijk aan andere vormen van bewustzijn? De moderniteit kan hiërarchie moeilijk verdragen, maar volgens Nelles zijn er wel degelijk verschillen, zo neemt het bredere bewustzijn bijvoorbeeld meer waar dan het smallere. En dat heeft wel degelijk consequenties.

Nelles werd voor zijn boek waar hij de 7 niveaus van het bewustzijn beschrijft, geïnspireerd door een gedicht van Herman Hesse, “Stufen”

„Wie jede Blüte welkt und jede Jugend dem Alter weicht, blüht jede Lebensstufe,  blüht jede Weisheit auch und jede Tugend zu ihrer Zeit und darf nicht ewig dauern.“

Alles groeit, dus waarom ook het bewustzijn niet? Groei is immers onze innerlijke natuur? Alles groeit, en alles groeit vanzelf. Het bewustzijn groeit volgens Nelles in stappen. Hij beschrijft de 7 niveaus van bewustzijn voor zowel het individu als voor de samenleving. Op basis van dit model ontwikkelde hij later zijn opstellingsmethode het Levensintegratieproces (LIP).

Niv.       Individu                           Samenleving

1             Ongeboren kind             Symbiotische eenheidsbewustzijn

2             Kind                                 Groepsbewustzijn

3             Adolescent                       Ik-bewustzijn

4             Volwassene                      Zelf-bewustzijn

5             Rijpe volwassene            Geest-bewustzijn

6             Oudere                              Wetende eenheidsbewustzijn

7             Dood                                  Niet-, of al-bewustzijn

Iedere lezer zal in deze ordening ongetwijfeld een fase herkennen waarin hij of zij zich bevindt, of meent te bevinden. Wat van deze posities op individueel niveau ook zij, Nelles meent dat het bewustzijn waarin we nu collectief in het Westen leven, het ik-bewustzijn is, de adolescentie, niveau 3. Deze moderniteit verscheen na de middeleeuwen als Verlichting aan zieners als Rousseau en Voltaire. Ze werd pas grootschalig deel van onze werkelijkheid in de 19e en de 20e eeuw, door bijvoorbeeld Nietzsche ‘s „Gott ist tot“, of door Freud’s beschrijving van het onderbewustzijn en leidde vervolgens tot de geleidelijke emancipatie van het individu; onze „bevrijding“ van huwelijk, familie, dorp, kerk en partij. De individuatie als belangrijk kenmerk van de moderniteit die noodzakelijk was voor onze volwassenwording maar die, zo nemen we dagelijks waar, ons vaak niet gelukkig maakt. 

Het bewustzijn groeit dus, in fasen. Deze fasering is ook een ordening zoals Bert Hellinger als een van kenmerken van het systemische werken onder onze aandacht bracht. Wilfried Nelles gebruikt een systemische ordening in zijn Levensintegratieproces waarin hij de verschillende levensfasen opstelt ten opzichte van de cliënt. Maar is deze ordening hiërarchisch?

Het wantrouwen van het moderne bewustzijn tegen hiërarchie

Het moderne bewustzijn waarin we nu leven houdt in elk geval niet van hiërarchie. Hiërarchie is immers een typisch kenmerk van het groepsbewustzijn, met als ultieme voorbeeld God, maar ook de koning, de officier en de partijleider, vaak ook een man. Het moderne bewustzijn gaat uit van de principiële gelijkheid van iedereen en wantrouwt iedere vorm van hiërarchie. Misschien wel omdat het moderne bewustzijn bang is in het oude bewustzijn, het groepsbewustzijn terug te vallen. Die angst voor regressie gaat volgens Nelles pas over als we dat groepsbewustzijn in ons opnemen, in ons integreren. Hij gaat voorbij als we kunnen zien dat we zonder dit groepsdenken, en de praktische uitingen daarvan, het moderne bewustzijn niet hadden kunnen bereiken, zelfs als we de beperking en de destructieve kant van dit bewustzijn kunnen doorzien.

Bovendien, stelt Nelles, is de anti-hiërarchische houding van het moderne bewustzijn niet heel erg consequent, het moderne bewustzijn voelt zich vaak veel beter dan het oude groepsbewustzijn. De maakbaarheid en de zorg waar “de verworpenen der aarde” soms aan zijn onderworpen kan iets aanmatigends en ongelijkwaardigs hebben. Begrippen als burgerlijk of ouderwets zijn niet neutraal maar laatdunkend en bijvoorbeeld uitingen van religieus conservatisme worden vaak nogal neerbuigend bekeken. Opvallend is overigens dat dit ook een van de verwijten van religieuze extremisten aan het moderne bewustzijn is. De moderniteit, waarvan een van de kernwaarden gelijkheid heet te zijn, voelt zich niet alleen meeromvattender, wat de waarheid is, maar vaak ook beter, en dat is daarmee in strijd. Hierin zien we de ambivalentie, die bij uitstek een kenmerk van de heersende maatschappelijke adolescentie, de moderniteit is.

Het smallere bewustzijn is passend, het bredere neemt meer waar

Het model dat Nelles beschrijft is slechts in die zin hiërarchisch dat het hogere niveau het voorbije niveau omvat of omsluit en met een nieuwe dimensie uitbreidt. De vierde trede van de trap is niet beter dan de derde of de tweede, maar men heeft wel een ander perspectief en kan andere zaken waarnemen. De andere treden zijn noodzakelijk om de volgende aan te komen, maar men moet ze ook achter zich laten om op de vierde te kunnen arriveren. Een voorbeeld: een puber is verder in zijn ontwikkeling dan een kind. Het begrijpt en kan dingen die het kind niet begrijpt of kan. De puber neemt de wereld ook heel anders waar dan het kind. Maar daarom is het perspectief van het kind niet minder juist , of minder goed en is zijn handelen nog niet dommer of slechter. Het perspectief van het kind is simpelweg kinderlijk en dat is voor een kind volledig passend. In tegendeel, als het kind zich als een volwassen gedraagt mist het een stuk van de kindertijd die later in pathologie tot uiting kan komen. Ieder niveau heeft zijn eigen logica die voor die trede passend is en die niet door andere niveaus als beter of slechter beoordeeld mag worden.

Dat alles betekent echter niet dat alle niveaus gelijk zijn en dat er van vooruitgang of hiërarchie helemaal geen sprake is. De hogere niveaus zijn hoger omdat ze daadwerkelijk meer omvatten. In de ene trede zijn alle eerdere niveaus opgenomen, geïntegreerd en getranscendeerd. Deze zienswijze laat nog iets zien: vanuit het hogere niveau kan men het lagere niveau begrijpen maar vanuit het lagere niet de hogere niveaus. Een volwassene weet, althans kan weten, hoe een kind voelt en denkt. Daarom kan hij of zij bijvoorbeeld kinderboeken schrijven. Een kind kan echter niet ervaren als een volwassene. (al kan hij wel een volwassen imiteren en zich de volwassenen wereld infantaseren).

Om deze redenen is het geen wonder dat het moderne bewustzijn, met zijn focus op de objectivering van kennis, van de waarheid en de concreetheid van economische indicatoren zich een transformatie van de moderniteit, van het ik-bewustzijn, niet kan voorstellen. Een exponent van dit misverstand over de ultieme wereld, de Westerse moderniteit was wellicht Fukuyama’s bekende boek, The End of History and the Last Man (1992). De wereld was klaar. Maar hoewel men het hogere pas kan begrijpen als men er is aangekomen, kan men vanuit het lagere bewustzijn niet zeggen dat het hogere er niet is, hoewel dat zo kan lijken. Men kan het slechts nog niet ervaren.

Dit verschijnsel is van eminent belang, bijvoorbeeld in de strijd tussen moslimextremisten en de moderne Westerse maatschappij. Een boer uit Anatolië die naar Nederland komt kan wel zien dat Nederlandse mannen hun vrouwen anders behandelen en dat Nederlandse vrouwen zich anders gedragen, maar hij kan het niet begrijpen. Dit komt niet omdat hij dom is, zonder opleiding is of moslim of macho is, maar omdat hij op een ander bewustzijnsniveau leeft. Wie dit begrijpt die snapt dat hij dit verschil moet kunnen verdragen. En deze noodzaak wordt groter naarmate de culturen door globalisering emigratie meer bij elkaar komen. Zie hier het dagelijkse schouwspel aan de Europese grenzen en in Europa zelf.

Dit betekent bijvoorbeeld dat je van een politicus of journalist mag verwachten dat hij de Anatolische boer in ons voorbeeld én zijn vrouw begrijpt, én hun gedrag als innerlijk consistent en gepast kan waarnemen (wat niet betekent dat hij het moet goedkeuren) terwijl hij iets dergelijks omgekeerd niet kan verwachten. Ons past sowieso enige bescheidenheid omdat we een oorvijg op school en een ongelijkwaardige positie voor de vrouw hier nog niet zo heel lang hebben uitgebannen. De transformatie van het 2e niveau van bewustzijn naar het 3e ontplooide zich immers pas massaal in de tweede helft van 60-er jaren. Wij zullen dus geduld moeten opbrengen totdat andere groepen ook in dat volgende bewustzijn zullen groeien, en dat zal ook niet zonder conflicten gaan. Dit begrip neemt natuurlijk niet weg dat een democratie mag verwachten dat haar wetten worden gerespecteerd, of men die begrijpt of niet, maar Nelles’ perspectief kan de achtergronden van deze cultuurclashes wel verduidelijken.

Uit dit alles komt naar voren dat het bij de bewustzijnsniveaus om hiërarchische niveaus gaat, om een groei van het eenvoudige naar het complexere, van het smalle naar het bredere, van het lage naar het hogere. Daarbij gaat het echter niet om een beter bewustzijn maar om meer bewustzijn.

Hoezeer dit ruimere bewustzijn ook voordelen heeft, wat Nelles duidelijk maakt is dat het vooral ook grotere verantwoordelijkheden met zich meebrengt, de verantwoordelijkheid om de ontwikkeling van diegenen met het smallere bewustzijn te verdragen. In ieder geval staat het vermogen om met wijsheid en inzicht met het andere bewustzijn om te gaan mijlenver af van waar het begrip hiërarchie vaak mee wordt geassocieerd: rangorde en macht. Dit zou ons tot bescheidenheid, geduld én vastberadenheid moet aanzetten.