Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Second Tier Silliness

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There was a recent discussion in the Spiral Dynamics pod at Zaadz on the Mean Yellow Meme. The discussion seemed to echo in many ways the Wilber/Earp posts of late in that it supposes that there is fairly large number of people at second tier, or even at Turquoise (according to Wilber). One person mentioned "the people I would consider to be Yellow," as if there are a whole mess of them running around in every town.

[Those unfamiliar with Spiral Dynamics Integral (or KW's newest approach, Integral Spirituality, which steals much of its terminology from SDi while also seeming to include it) can read this or this.]

Let's crunch numbers. Wilber proposes that either 2% or 5%, depending on what you read, of the population is at second tier. I won't even get into the absurdity of talking about third tier. So, if KW is right, there are between 6,000,000 and 15,000,000 second tier people in America (using a population of 300,000,000, which we won't actually [theoretically] hit until October 17 or so, but it's a good round number). That's not very many people. I personally think these numbers are more than a little high, but then I live in Arizona.

How many of them are on-line? How many of them know or care that KW has a blog? How many of them know or care about the Integral Institute? How many of them even know what second tier is?

On the other hand, how many of them are artists, scientists, doctors, writers, managers, or any number of other things, who devote their lives to being present and being themselves? And how many of these people do you think give a damn about Ken Wilber or Integral Theory?

I'm not guessing very high.

So, assuming that KW is capable of doing the same math, why would he be talking so much and so often about second tier people? Does he really believe that all the second tier people have gravitated to him and I-I, or is he trying to convince these people they are second tier as a marketing ploy?

And what effect do you think this has on the population of bloggers, readers, and students who know the theory and can get it intellectually? Do you think the rest of their developmental lines are also in second tier? No? But, they do.

The integral bloggers I read and know are clear about their own development, but I've seen others who are not so clear, who want to be part of the "cool kids" crowd in the Turquoise realm. I'm seeing this a lot at Zaadz, which is to be expected in many ways. Very good people, but many of them mistake second tier intellectual development with being second tier. KW's series of Earpy posts has only made that confusion more common and widespread.

Intellect nearly always leads the way in development, and many of us can think in Yellow flexflow systems, or even in Turquoise worldcentric networks, but very few people have the majority of their developmental lines centered in Yellow, which would require several of them to be Turquoise, Coral, or beyond to compensate for the ones that are Red, Blue, Orange, and Green. Ego and intellect are closely linked for most of us, and ego loves to think it is more highly evolved than the Smiths.

We all need to do a little reality check, an ego check. We need to look at all our developmental lines and be honest about where we are -- of central importance are cognition, affects, role taking, psychosexuality, socio-emotional capacity, worldviews, and various lines that can be called spiritual (openness, concern, meditative stages, and so on).

Where is our center of gravity when we factor in all these lines? More importantly, where is our center of gravity when those who know us best assess our position on these lines? And how much shadow stuff do we have dragging us down?

No person is one color in the SDi framework -- or even in KW's new system. Although it's a tempting shorthand to talk about people in terms of a color designation, it's really a terrible use of a complex theory. Don Beck has been adamant about this, and Chris Cowan (with all his faults, he knows SD inside and out) is even more militant in his position that no one is a color.

More importantly, the actual number of people who are second tier is very low -- and those who are second tier probably aren't hanging out talking about (or blogging about) being second tier. In fact, they probably don't even know or care what second tier is.

What do you think about this issue? What do you think about Wilber's efforts to create a vast and inclusive second tier (really using the elements of Turquoise language that echo Purple)? How many people do you know who you would consider second tier?

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