by Michael Dowd (Nov 01, 2013)
Service, Trust, Authenticity, Responsibility… Service, Trust, Authenticity, Responsibility… each letter in the genetic code of evolutionary integrity that we make the effort to practice feeds into the next, round upon round, spiraling our character in positive ways. For some, the process begins with trust, with the recovery movement’s first step of surrendering to the wisdom of a beneficent Higher Power or to one’s community of support. For others, the spiral may begin with stepping up to a life of service, for which trust, authenticity, and responsibility are vital supports. But of course, who of us would trust or serve if we did not believe that it was in our self-interest to do so? So let’s start there.
Self-interest is a powerful biological instinct, and it can dance with service if we develop and expand our sense of who we are and why we’re here. What looks like service to some may actually feel like self-interest to those who have an expanded sense of self (or, Self). The mother who defends her child is identifying (consciously or not) with her family and her instinctual drive to care for her legacy. The activist who supports evironmental action may be identifying with the larger body of Life of which he or she is part. The person handing out sandwiches in a soup kitchen may be identifying with all of humanity. Whether prompted by self-interest (perhaps by a desire to reduce personal suffering or by a desire to grow) or whether sensing into a greater Self-interest and thus acquiring an urgency to serve, or to serve in an enlarged capacity, the way of evolutionary integrity offers a viable and flexible path to the fulfillment of our evolutionary mission.
I’ve come to think of the acronym STAR as summarizing this work to increase and deepen our evolutionary integrity…
S ervice/Self-interest/Generosity/Purpose: Supporting others in maintaining integrity and providing lifegiving service in additional ways. In so doing, we not only bless the world; we support our own growth and fulfillment, while boosting our chances for long-term integrous living.
T rust/Humility/Faith: Surrendering to the wisdom of divine Wholeness—that undeniable physical and nonphysical Reality beyond thought, belief, or denial, which is at work in the world and to which each of us is ultimately accountable.
A uthenticity/Honesty/Sincerity: Getting real with oneself and others, owning the painful truths about one’s life, and grasping the comforting truth that God loves us anyway. Then making commitments that will cultivate healthy habits and supports for living in integrity.
R esponsibility/Accountability/Compassion: Stepping into the shoes of those we have harmed, and then making amends—while cultivating compassion for ourselves and others. Enlisting the support of others, too, as integrity is a team sport.
I imagine people coming together in groups, locally or online, to support one another’s growth in evolutionary integrity. We might call these groups “STAR Clusters.” And as we develop connections among such groups—email lists, conference calls, websites—for community-building, information-sharing, networking, support, action, we can imagine bridging the distances between the STARs, reaching through “interStellar space.”
–Michael Dowd in Thank God For Evolution.