I often found myself in the role of a bridge builder throughout my life, bridge builder between different professional groups, between teams in organizations, between developers and business or users, between people with different world views, between different generations….
Building a bridge means trying to empathize with different viewpoints and perspectives (independent of my own viewpoint) so that I can support finding a common denominator or a way forward that is acceptable to both sides.
This is exactly what would be urgently needed in today’s discussions around the virus and vaccination.
Again and again, when polarized viewpoints clashed in my environment, I tried to find a way to build a bridge, to open both sides to at least a small insight that the other might have a comprehensible viewpoint after all, on closer benevolent consideration. I do not have to agree with this point of view and I do not have to adopt it. But I can remain respectful and concede to the other person that, seen from his point of view, I can understand his argumentation and conclusion.
Unfortunately, I found that this was often not possible.
Understanding the Levels of Consciousness
Looking at life, at people, teams and organizations, but also at nations through the lens of the Spiral Dynamics level of consciousness model has been a proven method for me for many years to expand my understanding, to gain a more differentiated perspective and it often helps to bridge gaps – to build bridges.
The public discussion and the polemic and almost violent interaction with each other is hard to bear. This blog is my attempt to better understand what is going on. It is an exploratory journey, my first draft at the subject, so to speak, and I welcome any contributions to my thoughts, whether critical or expanding.
Clare Graves, the founder of Spiral Dynamics said, “mankind is preparing for a momentous leap.” By this he meant the leap from the Green level of consciousness to the Yellow level of consciousness (Yellow is called Teal in the Ken Wilber color model).
Without going into an in-depth discussion of the individual stages here (that would go beyond the scope of this blog), I would like to provide a very brief summary of the stages as an introduction. In courses, I always start the explanation at the bottom of the spiral, since the lower stages emerged first. Each subsequent stage evolves from the previous ones and shows itself at different levels of maturity, i.e. beginning stage when it is newly emerging, mature stage when it is well developed and integrated, and ending stage when it is winding down, weaknesses and problems are showing up and a new stage starts to emerge.
Overview Spiral Dynamics Levels of Consciousness
Orange – prosperity and success through science and progress, competitive orientation, forms own opinion, can question authority, management by objectives.
Blue (Amber according to Ken Wilber) – order and stability through rules, external authority is not questioned. Structured processes, command and control, hierarchy, morality, black and white thinking.
Red – Enforcement and expansion through will and self-assertion, impulsive (does not plan). Heroism, egocentricity
We exclude Beige and Purple in this consideration for the moment.
The Interpretation of the Levels
The above mentioned keywords for each stage are to be understood as a kind of “placeholder” for large and diverse fields. If we want to work with these stages, it is not enough to deal with them cognitively. It is important that we also deal with them on an experiential and emotional level. These levels are NOT to be understood as a typology and no human being IS “Blue” or “Orange” or “Green”.
These are the levels of consciousness as they have developed in evolution and we carry them all within us, they are part of our human DNA. So we are not “being” Blue, we are “behaving” “Blue” in a certain situation, but we can act from a different level of consciousness in another situation or at another time.
The leap from Green to Yellow is greater than any leap before, which is why Clare Graves calls it 2nd Tier. There are several fundamental differences between Levels 1 – 6 and Level 7. One difference is that up to and including Green, everyone thinks their way of seeing the world is the only right way. Orange and Green are more tolerant than the previous levels and accept other opinions, but ultimately their view is the only correct one. Yellow is the first level, which has the awareness that each level has its justification and its important contribution to the whole. In a healthy organization, for example, you want all levels to be present in a healthy expression so that the organization is holistic and stable.
Another difference between Yellow and the previous levels is, that Yellow is not driven by fear anymore. It can therefore not be manipulated. While previous levels develop to better cope with the world becoming more and more complex, Yellow develops simply out of the pure joy of developing. What we can observe is that the levels up to Green tend to revert to previous levels when they feel insecure and threatened. This might be one of the drivers of the aggression in the current discussion which tries to solve the problem with a black-and-white schema.
Examining the current Public Discussion from the Point of View of the Levels of Consciousness
Now I would like to look at the current discussion (if you can even call that a discussion) from this point of view and try to understand what is going on.
The big challenge is that the government has to make rules that are valid for everyone. The resistance comes from the fact that different people have different opinions about what is necessary and what is reasonable. Our challenge as a collective is: How can we find a way to deal with each other and define rules that are acceptable to all levels of consciousness? There are no patterns and templates for this, that is the challenge of the gradually emerging Yellow level of consciousness. We will now have to develop these together in order to find a way out. It is not an option for one level to impose its view on the others as a universal truth. The opinion that one’s own world view is the only correct one is an attribute of the levels up to and including Green. Yellow sees it differently, integrative.
I have chosen three questions that I find relevant in this context.
Question 1 – Is vaccination a good idea and a reasonable measure?
Question 2 – How do I cope with death, what does it mean to me?
Question 3 – What does freedom mean to me, what do I use to determine it?
For each of these questions I try to sketch how the different levels see it. Usually I draw the stages as a spiral bottom up. starting with red, so at the bottom are the stages that have developed first and further up the stages that are newer and partly just emerging (Yellow). So if you want to read this as it develops and see how a stage emerges from the previous ones, you can start at the bottom at red and read upwards.
A transition from one stage to another usually takes a long time (in decades or longer). In the Age of Enlightenment period, for example, it took almost 200 years for the new understanding to become established in people’s everyday consciousness. In the early days, the bearers of the “good” news were sometimes burned at the stake. Today, such pioneers are called “esoterics” at best, and the stake has been replaced by banning and censorship on social media.
For a differentiated view, we must also be aware that each of us carries all stages within us. They show themselves dynamically and appear in different orchestrations. Even I as an individual can be ambivalent within myself, and have multiple voices that have different opinions. Often it happens in this case that one oscillates between different views, depending on what kind of group of people one is with or what kind of media one has just been exposed to.
Is Vaccination a Good Idea and an effective Measure?
We go through all levels and look at how different the criteria are for whether someone considers a measure to be effective and meaningful. It also shows that at each level, the reasons for being in favor or against vaccination can be very different. We also look at different attitudes towards compulsory vaccination.
How do I cope with Death, what does it mean for me?
In the debates I have followed, the topic of death has hardly been addressed. The unspoken credo seems to be: death is something that must be prevented by all means. Today, however, this bias is rather one-sidedly referred to Corona. There are many other causes of death that could be prevented, which politicians have been watching for years without taking any measures.
What does Freedom mean to me, what do I use to determine it?
Another important aspect of the discussion is what freedom means to people. How does a person define freedom, what does he need to feel free and what does he resist because it takes away his feeling of freedom? Are there also situations where someone consciously or unconsciously does not want freedom?
The imminent Quantum Leap