The Journey Toward Authentic Nation-States
I believe that authentic nation-states are energetically held together through the Law of Love. When this Law is fully active, its members are interconnected, operating in integrity, and experiencing peace, harmony, and understanding in all of a country’s activities. The members of an authentic nation-state are able to give and receive unconditional love, even in challenging situations involving intractable conflicts. The individuals, couples, families, large organizations, communities, and cultures inside the nation-state are able to evolve. This is the underlying principle of LOVEvolution.
The evolution of authentic nation-states follows the same four-stage developmental model that I followed in mapping the evolution of authentic couples, families, schools, communities, and organizations. I have had a number of unique opportunities to study the evolution of two former Soviet republics since the fall of the Soviet Empire: Ukraine in Eastern Europe and Czechoslovakia in Central Europe.
I have worked intensively in Ukraine since 1990, and have witnessed the country’s ongoing struggle to clear Soviet ethics, thinking, practices, values, and behaviors. Individuals, couples, families, and the Ukrainian culture have made great progress in their journeys toward more integrity and authenticity. They have worked very hard to retrieve their authentic culture and language that the Soviets did their best to erase. Much of the revival of Ukrainian culture is happening in its microsystems, through art, literature, historic holidays and celebrations, and the establishment of special schools emphasizing its language and historical roots.
As a nation-state, Ukraine has become divided into two camps: the East and the West. While there is a geographic East-West divide, there is a larger East-West cultural divide that reflects contrasting languages, values, beliefs, and behaviors. The East is more aligned geographically and philosophically with Russia, and communist/Soviet governmental structures and social values. The West is more aligned geographically with Central and Western Europe, and with democratic governmental structures and social values. These two camps came into conflict during the 2008 Orange Revolution and again in 2014 during the EuroMaidan Revolution, which has since turned into a perpetual war being fought in the Eastern regions of Ukraine. This war pains Ukrainians very deeply because culturally they are very sensitive and empathic. They carry this nation-state rift inside them very personally and work internally and individually to find a resolution to this grave divide.
I also lived in Czechoslovakia for six months in 1992-1993 when this nation-state was divided into Czechia and Slovakia. A WW II “shotgun marriage: between two very incompatible cultures crashed while I was living in Bratislava, Slovakia, and working inside the Slovak Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Family while working on a United Nations project. Two things impressed us about this “Velvet Divorce.” The first was how careful each side was to partition the country with integrity and without malice. This is what earned it the “velvet” description.
The second was how much the partition process reminded us of a couple getting a divorce. The way they divided Czechoslovakia’s resources looked very traditional. The more Germanic Czechs played out the “husband” role, who symbolically “had a good job and took the nice apartment, the new car.” The more educated, more sophisticated, and more “industrious” citizens chose to live in Czechia, which housed the “clean” industries and had more natural resources.
The more Slavic Slovaks played out the “wife” role, and symbolically was “a stay-at-home mother who took the children, went to live in a rented flat, and had to use public transportation.” Citizens who were “agricultural” by nature stayed in Slovakia, which housed the “dirty” industries, such as Soviet nuclear reactors and outdated Soviet manufacturing plants.
Our Personal Experiences Validate our Developmental Model
Witnessing Czechoslovakia’s partition journey and Ukraine’s journey toward sovereignty have both been great validations of my Developmental Systems Theory’s premise that nation-states are large systems that contain many subsystems. Each subsystem carries its own unhealed developmental traumas and intractable conflicts, incomplete essential developmental processes, and unmet developmental needs that operate as fractals in the larger system.
The degree to which individuals, couples, families, organizations, and cultural groups have completed their essential developmental processes and met their developmental needs determines a nation-state’s level of evolution. Nation-states that encourage individuation and related psychological development have social structures that are more in the independent and interdependent stages of development. By contrast, nation-states that discourage individuation and place barriers on psychological development have social structures that are likely to remain stuck in the codependent and counter-dependent stages of development.
America: A Nation-State With a Cultural Divide
People typically think of America as 50 “united states.” From a cultural perspective, however, it is divided into a number of cultural regions. It is these cultural differences that are responsible for America’s divide. Our primary divide is between the North and the South. The Mason-Dixon Line created a divide during the Civil War based on the issue of slavery. This line of cultural demarcation is linguistic, as the two groups speak slightly different dialects of American English. Culture-wise, many differences still remain between the cultures of the North and the South.
The South traditionally has had a more cohesive culture based on what is sometimes called, “the Southern White Plantation Culture.” Having lived for eleven years in Western North Carolina, I encountered this Southern culture and its set of beliefs and practices. I know from personal experience that this culture is alive and well, particularly in rural areas. Many Southerners say, for example, that they believe strongly in protecting their “liberty” and “freedom.” I learned that these concepts mean something entirely different to Northerners. “Liberty” and “freedom” to Southerners means that “I can do whatever I damn well please, without the interference of the government. (Sara Robinson, “Southern Values Revived,” Salon.com, 2012).