Bobbie Stevens, PhD
Balboa Press (2017)
Reviewed by Marjorine Castillo for Reader Views (4/19)
“Making Sense of the Chaos: A Call to Action” by Bobbie Stevens is a book about personal transformation that can lead to a greater good. The author provides her opinion about why the world is in the current state it is in, and how challenging the misconception that caused it can lead to a shift in the human collective consciousness. The book is organized into three sections that serve the purpose of introducing how the incorrect belief has led to chaos in the world, how she envisions the aftermath of a personal and collective transformation, and how we can work on ourselves to co-create a better world.
Overall, the chapters begin with interesting quotes that summarize the essence of the section. The writing is concise, the message is consistent, and in accessible language. I was truly excited to read the content she proposed, but the further I progressed in the chapters the more I was unsettled by the unsupported claims made in this book. I was particularly bothered by the statements that scientists discovered certain concepts even though they have existed before recorded history. I believe she has good intentions in outlining how we can change ourselves and the world, but this book provides a sense of empowerment that seems superficial once we dig deeper into the text.
The first part of the book focuses on the what is going wrong in the world and how life as we knew it no longer exists. She claims that violence, climate change, an increase in drug addictions, corruption, and fake news have caused widespread destruction, and this is a reflection of our belief in that we are separate entities. There might be some truth to this, but the connection is explained in simplistic terms. I read it more as, “horrible things are happening because we are living in fear, we’re stressed, we don’t connect with each other, and we see no hope for a better future.” Bad things occur throughout history, people experience stress in different forms, the whole world doesn’t think in a single, unified way, and there are people who lose or gain hope at the same moment in time. What is it about this particular generation that makes this experience different? In my opinion, the book begins with a misconception of its own- that the whole world believes the incorrect belief. This is not the case, as many people around the world, for generations, have believed in the connectedness of the universe (e.g. Native American spirituality and beliefs of oneness). The author should specify who is the world that is waking up, because many have been awake for quite some time.
Fundamentally, I agree with her statements that “there is an energy that connects all of us and everything in the universe” (pg. 9). I think that a lot of good can come from this ideology and it’s important to spread the word. The problem arises when statements such as “science has now clearly proven that the entire universe (everyone and everything in the universe) is connected” are used but there is no actual evidence being presented. If the purpose of the book is to “bring us up to date in the discoveries of science,” then I expect it to deliver. Although her peak experience is valid in its own right, it is not enough to say, “I experienced this” and “discoveries in science show…”. What were these studies? Who are these scientists? How did they prove it? Another section I found to be problematic was the left vs right brain discussion, and that “a highly educated, intellectually brilliant person has not necessarily developed his/her right brain” (pg. 56). The claim is that the left brain is for logical thinking, while the right brain is for creativity. This theory is not supported by scientific evidence, and this information is widely acknowledged. This is another incorrect belief that is guiding the discussion about what people should do to improve their lives. Approaching the conversation with outdated information diminishes the credibility of one of the main arguments of the book- that people need to develop their right brain to become self-actualized.
Lastly, the section about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (not growth) explains the process of achieving self-actualization. There are certain needs that need to be met before we progress to a higher level of needs. This section brings up questions about who gets to the self-actualization level? The reality is that only some people can reach this level (e.g. rich and famous, as she mentions in one of the chapters) because others need to focus on basic survival. I could imagine a reader experiencing distress if they can’t reach self-actualization level based on the steps provided. A comprehensive perspective is lacking to help people of all backgrounds understand this. One does not simply achieve higher levels of needs. There are real barriers that prevent people from achieving self-actualization.
Despite the mentioned issues, the most informative part of the book was the part where she provides questions for people to confront their beliefs. She posed questions about different topics relating to war, religion, moral/ethics, wealth/money, relationships, sex, entertainment, medical/health case, aging and success. These questions were thought-provoking and could be used as tools to challenge people’s viewpoints.
The second part of the book was intended to give readers a vision of what the world could look like if we moved towards a collective human consciousness. It gives us hope to think that one day we can have a utopian-esque society where nobody suffers, and all is good with the world. She describes the world that she believes would be best for all people. She explains how people will begin to do yoga and meditate, develop their right brain abilities, and more people began to experience self-actualization. Again, I believe this could be a reality for a very narrow proportion of people across the globe. These statements ignore the complexity of people’s experiences, and the reality is that not everyone has the luxury of being cultural creatives. Who would have the power to set the standard? If a person doesn’t believe in collectedness, how do they fit into this world? What if more self-actualization doesn’t lead to a utopian world? Are there examples of people already living this life in “non-traditional” communities?
The last part of “Making Sense of the Chaos: A Call to Action” by Bobbie Stevens was very brief and emphasized the need to challenge ourselves. She asks us to take the 15-minute pledge to sit alone and let the universe tell us what it needs to tell us. I think doing this could be beneficial for people’s health, but I wish she would have mentioned that being in tune with yourself takes time and practice. It doesn’t just happen out of the blue and is a magically enriching experience. Challenging our beliefs can be a taxing process that shakes our core beliefs. Even if the result is positive, we must proceed with caution.