Wayne Dyer on changing societal memes

Wayne Dyer and Ray Hemachandra

Ray: Let’s talk about memes a little bit more. How do political and cultural shifts happen when there are collective memes, or seem to be—

Wayne: —oh, yes, there are millions of them­—

Ray: —and is there a tipping point at which you have enough people changing their thinking that a societal meme actually shifts?

Wayne: Oh, yes, and there are lots of examples. It wasn’t very long ago that when you called to make an airline reservation, you had to decide whether you wanted to sit in a smoking or nonsmoking section. It seems like ancient times, doesn’t it? But it was only two decades ago.

That’s a cultural meme that shifted in a positive direction. No one on an airplane ought to have to breathe in noxious fumes because other people decide that they have an addictive habit. But that wasn’t the case for many decades.

There was a tipping point: Enough people began to think that smoking on planes was unacceptable that it finally became unacceptable.

In fact, when I was growing up, everybody smoked, including me. When I was 14, I started. We all did it. That was just the way it was. And now there’s a stigma attached to it. It’s a big shift.

When I was in high school in the 1950s, the percentage of women in medical school was 1 percent. Now it’s 50 percent—one out of every two. The same is true with law school. Those are major meme shifts that have taken place.

When I was in high school—I’m really aware of this because I’m going to my fiftieth high-school reunion next Saturday—if you were black and lived in Detroit, and you wanted to drive down to Florida to go on vacation, you had to plan to drive all the way through, because you couldn’t stop in a hotel all the way through South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. We can’t even fathom such a thing now, can we?

Irving Wallace wrote a bestselling novel, The Man, in the 1960s about a black man becoming president of the United States. We thought that such a possibility was thousands of years in the future. Some people may still have some difficulty with the idea, but that’s a major cultural meme shift.

In physics we call these things phase transitions. When enough electrons within an atom get aligned and a critical mass is reached—as soon as you hit that hundredth monkey, as soon as you hit the one—you have phase transition, and all the rest of the electrons automatically make the change.

So, my mission—what I teach and what I believe in—is that you just get yourself aligned with God-consciousness.

If we teach enough people to do it—if enough of us ultimately get there—then we’ll start electing leaders with this kind of consciousness. We’ll start seeing these kinds of shifts taking place. I think it works both collectively and individually.

It works in reverse, too. When I was a kid at 16, sneaking into a burlesque theater in downtown Detroit was a big thrill. Today, in every hotel room in America, you can turn on the television and see hardcore pornography.

So the shifts can go both ways, and it’s incumbent on us as leaders of the spiritual community to get as many people as possible to really begin to think in God-realized ways.

*Read a selection of interviews, including key excerpts from the full interview with Wayne, on my website, www.hemachandra.com, and read an earlier interview with Dr. Dyer on his site, www.drwaynedyer.com.

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