Saturday, August 13, 2011
Book Review: The Whole Brain Path to Peace
Title: The Whole-Brain Path to Peace: The Role of Left and Right Brain Dominance in the Polarization and Reunification of America
Author: James Olson
Publisher: Origin Press, PO Box 151117, San Rafael, CA 94915
2011: 235 pages, Hard cover.
James Olsen is a former farmer and Christian church deacon from Missouri. Beginning with a conservative Christian point of view, he strives to use science and Eastern philosophies to blend a new perspective of integrative thought into a unique path to peace.
The book is divided into three parts: Universal Fundamentals Who We Are and What We See, Theory: How Perspective and Dominance Produce Polarization, and Application: Perspective’s Influence on Culture.
In the beginning there is the brain. The brain has a dominant functional path: right or left. Using basic philosophy of neuroscience to explain right brain dominance, a naturally whole thinker versus left brain dominance, a naturally compartmentalized thinker, Mr. Olsen seeks to explain why women and men are basically different.
He presupposes brain dominant function is gender biased rather than culturally or educationally taught. Although he offers the caveat that both men and women or right and left brain dominant people can learn to integrate other brain-sidedness through education. In most cases, this would be seen as women changing their natural right brain views to include left brain values.
Through a series of examples, Mr. Olsen argues the overall male dominance of the left-brain compartmentalized thinking dominating culture over the millennia has culminated in the world’s cultures we see today. Rather than choosing to get along, men basically defend their territory and seek to expand their beliefs and culture into other areas.
A world survey for "Global Peace" places the United States between 80 – 95 in ranking out of 121 countries when ranking from the most peaceful to the least peaceful societies. Norway, Finland and other Scandinavian countries rank in the top 10. Iraq ranked last in 2008 & 2009 surveys.
Toward the end of the book, the author debates ideas such as truth is internally harmonious. Beliefs about God may be juxtaposed: God is Love versus God sends people to Everlasting Hell. Mr. Olsen agrees that these issues must be resolved in some way. He suggests that by integrating both sides of the brain processes that these issues may be resolved.
The Whole Brain Path to Peace is an ambitious book blending portions of Eastern thought with traditional conservative Christian belief. There is much to learn from World cultures. Perhaps, incorporating more whole thought into our culturally compartmentalized thinking may help bring about world peace. Certainly, individual blending of right and left brain dominance will open new opportunities to share love and peace on a personal level with our neighbors.