We seem to live in a world gone mad. But still, there is a way to understand what is going on at a deeper level with a tool called Spiral Dynamics. When we see what values people have in their stage of development, when we understand from where their beliefs and actions are driven, we can offer ourselves as effective helpers in the present complex crises all over the world. With the understanding of where the people are coming from, we can communicate with them in a way they can understand and help them to get out of their narrow positions and embrace new possibilities and ways of finding solutions for their problems.
Spiral Dynamics explains perfectly, how life conditions shape the mindset of people, the ways they are thinking and acting. Everyone starts at “beige”, the level of survival, and then can grow up the spiral, hopefully as many steps as possible. In times of crisis it is likely that people spiral down again to lower levels, survival becomes a huge theme within the Corona threat.
Unfortunately, often the unhealthy version of these levels are expressed. Starting with “Blue”, the level where law and order is important. In this stage, people can become authoritarian and strikt. This is the expression of many police interventions, but there is also the version of a policeman who protects you and helps you when you need help – the healthy version of this level of development.
What happens when police officers are not embodying “blue”, but allow an unhealthy “red” (the stage of egocentric behaviour and expression of personal power) guide their actions? Well, you see it now in the US where a black man was killed by a police officer kneeling on his neck with the expression of joy of having the power to do so. If the police force knew about Spiral Dynamics or similar developmental levels, they would know that they shouldn’t recruit people still in the red level of development to avoid horrible actions of this kind which then destroys trust in the police as such which is catastrophic for society.
Maybe you don’t know anything yet about Spiral Dynamics and the colors don’t mean anything to you. They denominate the levels of social-psychological development which all humans go through until the level they can reach when they meet the right conditions. In our times of crisis mainly the lower levels are acting out, and often not in a healthy way.
To resolve the crisis we need leadership from a higher level. There is the demand for everyone who has made it to a higher level, especially into second tier, to use their experience and knowledge to help others grow, in the best way possible, by respecting their level and possibility and guide them into a healthy embodied form of it.
Dr. Lorraine Laubscher, now in her 90st year, has done exactly this when she helped ending Apartheid in South Africa by going out and doing workshops with people who seemed irrevocably violent. She is asking now the next generations to do exactly this: meet the people where they are and communicate with them in a way they can understand – which might be actions instead of words -, give them back their pride of being capable of finding good solutions and create peace and understanding from the bottom up.
I invited Loraine and Jon Freeman to join me at the Integral European Conference last week and have them exchange their thoughts about how Spiral Dynamics can not only explain what is happening in the world right now, but also point to possible ”fixes” for the imminent problems. It is a very complex situation which needs to be understood before rushing in with “solutions” which might be counterproductive and become part of the problem instead of the solution.
Lorraine gives a good example how storytelling has an important place in the communication, especially with people in the first 4 levels of development which are pre-rational. Jon has the gift of weaving all that together into a structure which might be more easily understood by people acculturated in the western world. It was a joy to witness their conversation and how they answered the upcoming questions from the audience.
Enjoy the conversation and think about how you can be part of those needed to heal the unhealthy expression of any of the developmental stages which are creating the problems we are facing in this century.