My Philosophy

A work in progress... I am in the discovery mode for unpacking/discovering/ co-creating what I have been referring to as a transpartisan philosophy. Although this philosophy has been limited to politics as of recent, it is clear to me that this philosophy is applicable to all areas of human activity and social organization including education and healthcare.

Transpartisan means to transcend and include partisan worldviews and activities. In politics, this would mean to include the limited and partial truths within the various worldviews i.e. conservative, classical liberal, paleo-conservative, neo-liberal, liberal, progressive, etc, into a larger more encompassing map of the body politic. This is not a one-time transcendence in order to create the one 'true' map but a continual process of reevaluation, inclusion and integration.

I believe that we as human beings are not smart enough to know it all but can continually learn, discover and explore new ideas, ways of being, acting and organizing in the world. This exploration is not based on the idea of newness at the expense of tradition and ancient wisdom.

I am not interested in throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

It is partially about creating the space for the new and old and future old and new to share the same world space. Since we cannot know it all, we therefore cannot plan it all out or create the one and final map of any process or area of human activity. So, we can create a more encompassing map or understanding for any issue area or human activity but we cannot create the final one.

Built into this system of thought is the continual need to integrate new knowledge (and ancient wisdom).

I believe the term transpartisan was first coined or at least popularly used by Don Beck from Spiral Dynamic Integral. His use of the term may be different than my own. I have been using it in my political circles for quite a few years and only in its political connotation. Another word that also describes a similar philosophy and process is the word ‘integral’, which has been popularized by the work of Ken Wilber.

As my friend and colleague Jim Turner says though, this is not new, it is an historical impulse that we are merely trying to discover and articulate.

As I said earlier, this philosophy is not just limited to use in politics but other areas as well. For instance, it is applicable in medicine. Just as conservatives and progressives 'fight' in politics, conventional and alternative medicine 'fight' in the medical realm. From a transpartisan perspective, there are truths, however limited and partial in both conventional and alternative medicine. These truths need to be integrated into a large more encompassing picture i.e. a map of medicine and health.

For brevity sake, I use 'conventional' and 'alternative' just as I use 'conservative' and 'progressive' but in actuality it is much more nuanced than two apparently competing worldviews. For instance, in medicine/health, the ancient Chinese system of medicine cannot be easily lumped together into something called 'alternative' medicine with lets say postural integration which is a somatic therapy. They are from two different paradigms. Yes, they are both alternative to conventional western medicine but they are distinct from one another. In fact, postural integration fits within the conventional paradigm much more than say Chinese Medicine. Postural Integration fits within the same anatomical/physiological system as conventional western medicine where as Chinese Medicine ( Ayurvedic & Tibetan) utilizes a different system of thought when it comes to human beings anatomy. Yes, they still recognize the gross physical body, but they work more from and with the subtle realms of consciousness and energy.

The general idea though is to create more encompassing maps within each of the fields of human activity that take into consideration as much knowledge and wisdom that we human beings have at any particular time. The better the map, the more open the mapmaker, the better decision can be taken to the benefit of all. In medicine for instance, one has to consider the psychological, physiological, the cultural, economic, environmental and energetic aspects of health and disease. It no longer works to just focus on one aspect to the exclusion of the rest or even to narrowly focus on one aspect of one area to the exclusion of the rest of the area.

As an example, heart disease is not limited to the physical heart so a doctor or other healthcare provider needs to take into consideration dental health, diet and nutrition, an individual's psychology, their social relations, their economic status, their environment in terms of pollution (air, water & food), the function of other systems within the gross physical body, the bodies energy system from the cellular level to the level of the whole organism, etc. In order to take into consideration all of these factors, which do contribute to one degree or another to an individual's health and well-being, a bigger map of health and healing needs to be created. That way all these factors (and future factors yet to be discovered) can be seen in context and how they are related to one another and how one type of intervention will possible effect other systems within the body and aspects of the individual.

This is true in public policy as well. Too many times, a certain type of policy intervention, although created with possible good intentions, ends up negatively effecting the whole system with possible repercussions in the psychological and social health and economic and environmental well being. There is a lack of insight and foresight into the health of the whole system and the individuals, families and communities within it. This lack of 'sight' causes unforeseen (sometimes clearly seen) negative outcomes down the road. That is why a larger map that includes as many factors as possible in it is so important. Not only that but how each factor relates to and affects one another.

That is what is so problematic in Western Medicine as practiced and taught generally, which primarily focuses on symptom management with pharmaceutical drugs. There are many drug interventions for instance that do deal with a particular symptom of a disease process but that same drug causes a cascade of future health problems and does not address the original problem substantively. Not to say that a quick emergency response to a particular symptom is not appropriate but that intervention need to be done within a larger context of the health of the whole person.

This is true in public policy as well. There may be an emergency situation were an immediate action by the government or community organization is required but it needs to be done with the larger context in mind. This is true on the individual level as well. As a psychotherapist, I have seen the value of an emergency type intervention that deals with the immediate symptoms of the problem but if it is left at that, it does a disservice to the 'client'.

An example of this type of thinking in practice comes from my clinical practice as a psychotherapist. Although a simple example it makes my point about the need for a bigger map. I had a client who came to me complaining of anxiety, which was negatively affecting his social and work life. He said he was anxious a lot of the time and unable to think clearly and sleep well. I asked about any medical conditions that might cause or contribute to his anxiety and related difficulties. None existed as far as he knew. I also asked him about his diet. Although not a nutritionist, I knew enough to know that diet has a profound effect on an individual 's health and well being. I found out through my questioning that he was consuming large amounts of caffeinated drinks (and not eating well). Much more than usual but it was so habituated that he did not think much of it. I explained to him how this might contribute to his problems i.e. overly burdened adrenals and dehydration and suggested he limit toward zero his consumption of caffeinated drinks. (I also suggested he look more closely at his diet and how it might not be serving him health wise.) He did so, and within a month or so he felt much better. He was able to sleep, had much less anxiety and was clearer in his thinking.

This was not a really brilliant intervention on my part; I think it was simple but yet effective. If I had not asked about his diet, we could have spent months trying to dig into his psychodynamics. That would have wasted his time and money. That is true of many interventions that are to narrow in their focus in public policy, business, education and healthcare. They are a waste of time and money and lead to new and future problems.

A similar example comes from a speech I have given in the past on psychiatry, culture and drug use. I discuss ADD in particular and how parents and others need to consider many more things when dealing with a child who has been diagnosed with ADD than just what drug to give them to 'change' their behavior. They need to look at diet (additives, preservatives, coloring agents, type of fat, etc) and how they might affect their child's behavior. They also need to look out for any medical conditions. ADD could be a symptom of a neurological disorder/disease. They need to know if their child is suffering from PTSD, which can cause ADD like symptoms. Is their child's behavior symptomatic of a dysfunction in the family system i.e. are they the identified patient but the real problems reside in the parents or other family members. Is the educational institution not serving the needs of the child i.e. not recognizing and working with them as individuals. Is the child a symptom of a dysfunction school? Another thing to consider is that the child is an example of an evolutionary adaptation at the species level i.e. it is important for a small segment of the population to bore really easily and look for new stimulation (the new adapters). Or quite possible, the child is being a child and doing what they should be doing at that particular age i.e. playing and not paying attention to age inappropriate learning materials.

What ever the answer might be, it is important to have a framework big enough to be able to ask the right questions. In the case of psychiatry, they have collapsed psychology, biology, cultural studies, sociology, ecology and anthology to mere biology. It is not even an expansive view of biology but a narrow one that looks at genes and brain chemistry. T

his is were the 'trans' of transpartisan comes into play. It is not that genes and brain chemistry are not important (partisan psychiatry) but they need to be considered in a larger context that includes the whole person within their socio-cultural-economic-community system.