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Green: Pluralistic Equality

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Levels of Development: Week 2

Green: Pluralistic Equality
Thursday, December 17, 2015

The sixth level of Spiral Dynamics is the Green or Communitarian/Egalitarian level. I call it the level of Pluralistic Equality, seen clearly in postmodernism. It is very politically correct. It was only in the 1960’s that we Americans, who said in our Declaration of Independence “all men are created equal,” started recognizing that we really didn’t mean all humans are created equal. We didn’t mean women and we didn’t mean black people. We originally just meant land-owning white men! In the 1960s we finally realized that civil rights needed to be applied broadly and equally, regardless of gender, class, or race, and we also began to face the hypocrisy and evil of our warlike mentality. Not surprisingly, there was strong pushback from the Blue, Red, and Purple levels.

Spiral Dynamics describes the basic theme of the Green level as “Seek peace within the inner self and explore, with others, the caring dimensions of community.” [1] The Green level goes beyond the cold rationality of the Orange level and emphasizes feelings, caring, and sensitivity. It tries to free “The human spirit . . . from greed, dogma, and divisiveness” and to share “the Earth’s resources and opportunities equally among all.” Green decision making is done “through reconciliation and consensus processes.” [2] This stage is anti-hierarchy and strongly egalitarian. It comprises 10% of the world population and 15% of people in power. [3]

Ken Wilber cleverly calls the dark side of the Green level “Boomeritis.” It’s the disease that the Baby Boomers like myself are likely to have, but just can’t see. A combination of arrogance and individualism keeps people trapped at this “Mean Green” level. It seems we have just enough enlightenment to reject everybody below us as naïve, and at the same time we can’t imagine anyone being smarter than we are. The mystical, non-dual levels look ridiculous to academic and sophisticated Greens. Wilber also calls this “flatland” because it’s contemptuous of both higher and lower levels. Mean Green people will not let go of either their separateness or superiority. Their ego is still in charge.

The 1% of people who transcend the Green Level to enter the Second Tier or “Being” levels do so by going through a major death to the ego. It is some kind of “Dark Night” experience beyond their control. Now they know that the Green idea of pluralistic equality is not the highest meaning of enlightenment. Yet they do not throw out the wonderful and needed values of human rights, equality, and human dignity. The Green level is the great advance made in the last fifty years, but we are not done yet!

Gateway to Silence:
Transcend and include

[1] Don Beck in an interview with Jessica Roemischer, “The Never-Ending Upward Quest,” What Is Enlightenment?, Fall/Winter 2002,, 6.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ken Wilber, “The Integral Vision at the Millennium,” Part I, excerpts from Introduction to The Collected Works of Ken Wilber, Volume 7 (Shambhala: 2000),

Adapted from Richard Rohr, In the Beginning . . . Six hours with Rob Bell and Richard Rohr on Reclaiming the Original Christian Narrative (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), discs 2 and 4, CD, MP3 download.

Image Credit: Photograph by BryanHanson, 2015.
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