Coded gray.

Monday 5 June 2006

Screenshot CoH

Pic of the day: Please make sure to worship the Second Tier people, 'kay? Or perhaps not. (Screenshot from City of Heroes, the online game where YOU can be an "incredibly different sort of human being.")

Second Tier Citizens?

This is intended to be the final reflection (for now) on Spiral Dynamics. I am glad to see that I am not the only earthling who has considered that there may be an accelerating evolution of the human "software", our culture and psyche. To some degree this very idea seems counter-intuitive for us who have read books several thousand years old and found them to be uncannily accurate in describing human emotions. But on the other hand, I think most of us are rather uncomfortable with looking 150 years into the past and see that dueling was a perfectly acceptable way to decide a disagreement, and especially when two men wanted the same woman. The woman then was supposed to meekly accept that the best murderer was her fate in life. What The Hekk?

We have outgrown this, but we have grown into other controversial habits. Due to the dissolution of marriage, a much larger number of children now grow up separated from one of their biological parents, usually the father. By all accounts, this is a bad thing, and certainly most of the children seem to think so. Overall, there seems to be a tendency to see other people as tools of our own happiness, what I call treating them as Non Player Characters, not equally real as ourselves. Perhaps this is an unavoidable result of the focus on individuality. There is already some reaction against this, but the trend seems still to be toward it. People are acutely aware of their human rights, but completely unfamiliar with the concept of human responsibilities. And yet simple logic dictates that there are exactly as many obligations as there are rights... they are mirror images of each other.

What we have seen is what Spiral Dynamics call the Orange vMeme unfolding in society. People want personal freedom, they want to live their own lives as long as they don't explicitly hurt someone. The Orange people won't fart in your face, but if you enter the room after they have farted to their heart's content, it is not their problem. If they use the planet's resources now and leave the pollution to the next generation, so what? It's not like anybody else wouldn't have done the same to them, right? You have to use the opportunity while it is there. As long as you hurt no one in particular, do what you want.


As always when the individual runs unchecked, there is a reaction. The Green vMeme is it. Despite its name, it is not all about green politics, although they tend to go together. Green is about ruthless honesty to oneself, and borderless cooperation with others. And it is about values rather than material riches. The Green citizen will still try to impress you, but not with a grand display of riches. Perhaps quite the opposite: Will you please notice that I eat vegetables and don't wear fur, or do I have to say it out loud? The Green find the business tycoon and the conservative preacher equally obnoxious, relics from a stupid past.

Scandinavia and all of Northern Europe is currently in the ORANGE/Green phase, where the two compete but with Orange definitely in the driver seat still. I'd tag the USA as Blue/ORANGE, but the country is so large and diverse that this really would vary from state to state, or at least between regions. Generally the coastal states seem to be ahead, for some reason. More exposed to other cultures, perhaps? But if we look around, we will see that much of the world still has its Orange phase ahead of it. This does not bode well. While Orange is less fond of war than Blue (One Truth), the sheer environmental impact of billions of humans living the American Way of Life is a nightmare in itself. As is the subtle human suffering from a life without lasting bonds and without an inner compass, a life where all things are relative to Me and My happiness.

I am somewhat surprised to see Don Beck and his friends put down the Green vMeme. True, it is way too tolerant of inferior cultures. It is true that the tribal cultures of less developed nations are perfectly valid in themselves, but they are not valid in a global civilization where we confront whole new problems. The misguided tolerance causes unacceptable values to run rampant, when immigrants continue practices that are entirely at odds with modern values. This is an inherent conflict in the Green society: You cannot accept fundamentalist Islam and at the same time homosexuality, as the Law commands the Islamists to kill the homosexuals. If both of them are valid, and one of them kills the other, then only one of them will be valid after the killing is finished. So yeah, the Green society has a problem. This is a constant source of frustration in partly-Green societies like Scandinavia and the Netherlands.


This is where the Second Tier vMemes come into play. By seeing the whole picture, the Yellows and Turquoises are able to put each person or group of people at their right place and appeal to their best qualities. That's the idea at least. But I wonder. Most notably, I wonder if the difference from Green to Yellow really is such a huge leap that it deserves to be called a new tier. To me it just seems like a natural next step. If there is a second tier, it seems to me, it will be the next after Yellow. By most criteria, I am centered in Yellow myself. And I see it as the logical next step after Green. The thought struck me that perhaps Dr Graves had perceived a big jump because he himself had not come that far. It is already a while since he developed his theory, he is dead now and his students belong to my generation, not exactly the bloom of youth either. It seems natural to me that he would perceive a big jump ahead if he had not taken it himself.

Intriguingly, a while later I found Chris Cowan saying the same, perhaps more diplomatically. (My reminders in brackets.) "It is possible, you see, that the G-T [Yellow] state appeared to Dr. Graves as a momentous leap - an order of magnitude different sort of human being - because of the perch from which he observed. He lived in a world heavily dominated by D-Q [Blue] and E-R [Orange]. F-S [Green] was just rising to prominence in the 1960's and 1970's. G-T [Yellow] was clearly a stretch, indeed; H-U [Turquoise] was barely imaginable. Today, however, the perch is somewhat expanded, though many retain their D-Q and E-R anchors without fully realizing it. Human nature has changed a bit in 40 years. The sixth level (F-S) is commonplace, though still not prevalent in policy decisions; the seventh (G-T) is becoming clear as part of a strong surging wave of attention to living systems and sustainable individualism. Explorations of the H-level existential problems are gaining attention and more thought is being devoted to them, as well. In the process, though, the differences between F-S and G- T have closed somewhat and the degree of overlap increased. It is now clear that the awakening of G-T is a profound change and liberates new ways of thinking and perceiving, but not of an "incredibly different sort of human being." It might well not be so vast a chasm to cross as it appeared to Dr. Graves since quite a few people are now in that transition as the F and G problems gain serious attention, though D and E remain largely in power."

This made me a bit thoughtful. I have told you repeatedly that I think humanity is approaching the threshold to a new version of our software, our psyche and culture... indeed, the end of culture as we know it today. This would indeed create an "incredibly different sort of human being." So perhaps I am just as mistaken as Dr Graves was. Perhaps the next step to is just an improvement on the existing model, not a whole new and improved humanity. Perhaps we are still just patching the beta version of Real Life, and the final release is still far away. If ever. Perhaps it is after all still a matter of faith.

And it also worries me that some people, on the SDi side at least, seem to use "second-tier" as a badge of honor. As if they believe that THEY are this "incredibly different sort of human being." Which, forgive me for saying so, does not seem to be the case. And particularly not for their adherents. The end of mass culture is the one part of my Next Big Thing that is actually happening. I trust you see it in me. To just swallow SD or SDi whole, to become a believer in it, to abandon one's own thinking to and become a faithful follower... that is so hugely ironic that even the English language fails me.

I value the insights of Spiral Dynamics, but just learning a new jargon will not take anyone to the next tier of human evolution. It is just another tool in the toolbox... and if you understand that, you may already have leveled up to Yellow. Gratz!

Yesterday <-- This month --> Tomorrow?
One year ago: Fall of the Euro
Two years ago: Ayase, queen of daydreams
Three years ago: Lessons from a game
Four years ago: Antsy arm
Five years ago: The Way of the Cow
Six years ago: Scattered thoughts
Seven years ago: Daggerfall, alternate history and war

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