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Polarization or Unity?

A continuum connects us all.

Do I contradict myself?

Very well then, I contradict myself,

I am large, I contain multitudes…

—Walt Whitman

We are in a serious crisis of consciousness, beginning with how we understand the reality we live in and the principles we live by. We have oceans of misinformation and falsehood flooding the world, causing millions to become detached from reality. Opposing forces are more pronounced than ever, sowing contradictions and divisions everywhere.

Yet how we got here was by a gradual, small-step-at-a-time process. A simple difference becomes the cause of dissonance, then discrimination, and eventually destruction, creating a so-called “divide” we say needs healing. At this point, our highest possible goal is harmony in gradation, or unity in diversity—e pluribus Unum—because differences will always exist. Gradations only become extreme and life-threatening at the far end of a continuum.

How we respond to what we see going on in the world depends upon the lens (telephoto or wide-angle)—or the consciousness—we bring to it. How we understand the nature of consciousness itself, and in particular, the evolution of consciousness, is paramount to dealing with the political, economic, and cultural polarizations we find ourselves facing right now.

Some people live with a belief that only certain things evolve; others see all things as evolving. This consciousness “divide” is one of many created by parts being given a greater value than their whole. We are seeing a racial divide, justice divide, climate divide, political divide, economic divide, cultural divide, urban-rural divide, gender divide, age divide, religious divide, etc.

Focusing only on any of these parts — or divides — causes a response based on separation and competition. This forces us to live by principles that put down and exclude others; we approach everything with bias and often anger, if not fear, causing discord, prejudice, and othering to overtake our lives.

The challenge at hand is focusing first on the whole, which engenders a response based on harmony and cooperation. This supports living by principles that unite and bind all things together within one reality. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said so beautifully, “We are all tied together in a single garment of destiny... an inescapable network of mutuality....”

This describes a Consciousness Continuum along which all things are interconnected and interdependent, with only gradations of conditions, attitudes, life circumstances, and values within the same whole, the same reality.

One side of this Continuum is guided by a consciousness of duality, which creates invidious hierarchies, builds systems of injustice, distorts the way we relate to each other and the natural environment, and leads us through generalizations, stereotypes, segregation, discrimination, hatred, exploitation, marginalization, imperialism, and oppression, ending up in racism, violence, genocide, and war, ultimately endangering our very survival.

The other side of the Continuum is guided by a consciousness of wholeness, which engenders respect for difference, reverence, and compassion for all, inviting us to inclusiveness, altruism, and love. This allows us to unite with the evolutionary impulse itself, which is leading humanity to greater levels of advancement toward universal human rights, gender equality, economic equity, and social, environmental, and racial justice—all interconnected stepping-stones to peace.

Robert Atkinson
The Consciousness Continuum
Source: Robert Atkinson

Rather than looking at opposing forces as a divide, a great chasm that needs healing, what if we viewed all things as they are, a continuum of one reality that is always connected? It is only with a consciousness of duality that wholeness is even divisible.

So much is happening in the world right now to dissuade us from this way of thinking, yet a holistic vision of consciousness and evolution sees a purpose in these turbulent times. Cycles of transformation and renewal punctuate our evolutionary progress, bringing periodic leaps toward a more mature consciousness. Through these built-in transformations, we can merge opposites into a hidden whole, restore unity, and in the process find hope for the future.

We all contain multitudes, including the inherent potential to express and connect every pair of opposing forces we see, transcending their polarizations, respecting our differences, and acknowledging our commonalities. Living by a consciousness of wholeness places a unity of purpose above all else.

The hard work needed is entering into a reflective process with an open, loving, and kind heart, listening more deeply across differences, to find, ultimately, that we are more alike than different. Seeing through another’s eyes allows compassion to emerge, from which a spark of understanding brings forth the common ground of truth, upon which we find a new path to reconciliation. Through such a concerted effort of engaged and mutual sharing, we can build a lasting unity, as we allow each other to be who we are meant to be.

This is how we transcend the illusion of separation and live into the unifying story of our time. We are all at least 50th cousins; we are primed to get to know each other better through sharing our stories of our common humanity. As we mine the gems hidden within ourselves and share our archetypal stories yearning to be told, we will help connect the human family, one story at a time.

Establishing a sense of belonging to this community of the whole, and building the necessary trust in it, is the work of a generation. Let us begin now; we have no time to lose.


Atkinson, R. (2017). The Story of Our Time: From Duality to Interconnectedness to Oneness. Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Sacred Stories Publishing.

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