Home Concepts Adult Development Deep Caring XXXII: The Origins of Generativity in Spirit

Deep Caring XXXII: The Origins of Generativity in Spirit

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Generativity of the Spirit

One of our Senior Sage leaders identified the essence of Spirited Generativity: “Two-thirds of my life is gone, and I don’t want to do anything now that doesn’t feed my spirit. I haven’t for a long time. Anytime I’ve tried to, it has never worked out.” Energized by the Generativity of Spirit we soar upward, like Icarus. We reach the highest point in our career, the highest point of status and influence in our communities. We know that our generative initiatives have made a difference. We are in danger of the seduction of power and narcissistic concern for personal recognition. We may find ourselves framing out world in a dualistic frame (as we identified in one of our early essays). Everything gets framed as right and wrong, good and bad. Coming out of a position of power and influence, we may foolishly think that we have “discovered” truth, when in fact we simply have the status and power to define what truth is and how it will be judged in our family, organization or community. In the movie, Network, Paddy Chayefsky offers a penetrating analysis of contemporary corporate life and communications. He portrays a world in which those in power primarily define the truth. These powerful figures are predominantly white males.

Yet, Chayefsky also notes that the new power elite is increasingly likely to come from non-western nations (in particular, oil-rich countries). Icarus doesn’t soar for long. Chayefsky observes how precarious one’s position is at the top, particularly concerning a grasp of the truth. His protagonist, Howard Beale, struggles throughout the movie with what truth really is and how easily it is manufactured. Beale encourages all people to stand up against the manufactured truth, yet seems always to be swayed left and right to different versions of the reality that are presented to him by other powerful men and very masculine women—in particular the Faye Dunaway character.

In postmodern terms, the “grand narrative” has collapsed, and along with this collapse comes the challenge of lost or abandoned spirit. The widely accepted, abiding truths in our society are no longer viable and there is nothing to replace them. Like Howard Beale, we are all left in a vacuum and look in vain for a solid source of truth. As mature men and women we are particularly vulnerable to this collapse of the grand narrative. We have reached the highest point in our career only to discover, as did Howard Beale, that those truths which do seem to endure are ugly. They are based in ego and greed rather than in any sense of rationality or community welfare.

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