The Spiderman realization: Responsibility of the higher 🕷️Nov 16, 2023
Maybe like me you’ve felt reluctant to claim being more developed in a particular area than someone else. There are probably a bunch of reasons for avoiding such claims: We’ve all seen the well-being cost of dominator hierarchies. It’s easy to fool ourselves into thinking more mature in one aspect = superior overall (what integral theorists call a level-line fallacy), and blind ourselves from our shortcomings and greatest places of growth. We don’t want to feel separate and alone. We don’t want to be arrogant even when we know something is demonstrably true. But which is more arrogant: Being honest about differences, or claiming the authority to deny evident truths?
Recently, an interaction with my son brought to light another aspect of this complexity. He was keeping my wife and I up in the middle of the night. Frustrated, I sharply told him, ‘Buddy, you HAVE to go to sleep!’. His response – immediate, hysterical crying – reminded me that being more developed means more capacity to shape the quality of our interactions, and therefore the nature of our relationship. Admitting I have more capacity means more compassion, empathy, and creative power. I’m not always ready to face that. Sometimes I want to keep pretending I’m a victim. (He was also now much more awake—defenses do what they’re designed to defend against).
As the saying goes in Spiderman “With great power comes great responsibility”. Or as Jesus said, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked”.
In a funny way we can break down the framing of hierarchy in these situations, while still acknowledging developmental differences, by noting how close we were to our relative edges. Perhaps my son was rising up to his best given what he’s capable of, whereas I was far from my best. In this way, admitting that I have more capacity invites me into more humility, rather than less.
With love, Jordan
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