WE ARE GRAVESIANS, Reflections on 2015

Happy New Year to all who are reading this post and particularly to the members of the online community of the Beck-Graves Facebook page. Whether we’re known as Spiral Dynamics, or SD Integral is irrelevant to the content of what we discuss or to the nature of the work that we do. I created the page for the purpose of promoting the work of my friend and mentor Dr. Don Edward Beck and to preserve the legacy of his friend and mentor Dr. Clare W. Graves. When I added the term integral to the name of the page, I wasn’t pandering to the followers of Integral Theory. I truly believe that Grave’s framework stands on its own as a superior developmental model worthy of advancement. So as many people do this time of year, I spent the holidays reflecting on 2015 and on the interactions that took place on that page and whether or not they facilitated the advancement of knowledge through our framework.

Graves FinalLooking back at 2015, I was amazed at the group’s ability to intelligently articulate subjects ranging from challenges to economic and political systems around the world, to how to deal with the European refugee crisis. But the year wasn’t all roses as I was the recipient of many personal attacks from the people who love us the most, Ken Wilber’s followers. I’m still flabbergasted by the number of unsolicited verbal assaults I received from so called integralists when the discussion turned to the hierarchical nature of our solutions. God help the person who makes the same mistake I made in saying something like “Blue is what’s next for the Middle East.” Apparently practitioners of integral theory, who live privileged lives in places like Newton Massachusetts, and Northern California, think that lower systems are something for them to victimize so they can feel better about being armchair healers. The shear fact that our framework calls on solutions to be stratified in accordance with Levels of Existence, and prevailing Life Conditions has been an unending source of vitriol to our integral colleagues. We must have triggered some unresolved issues worthy of this level of contempt.

Even criticizing President Obama’s blind spots subjected me to many personal attacks from known leaders in the integral community. Imagine a place where exercising my right to hold accountable the man I voted for twice, can trigger such visceral hate. To me that place is far more dangerous to democracy than anything the likes of Donald Trump can ever give us. We all know Trump is a clown who will disappear at the ballot box, but to believe that Obama cannot be challenged as if he’s a God is essentially the definition of dictatorship albeit at a much higher and more dangerous level of existence.

This past year, after being urged to extend an olive branch to our community, many in the integral camp did so by arguing that their work includes “levels”. To me, this has become the Integral movement’s standard statement for pacifying the Beck-Graves framework and wrongfully absorbing it into theirs. To me their claim meant they identify with all levels, especially the First Tier where 95% of the world’s problems come from today. However, instead of continuing to react to these statements, I decided to do some research that will exonerate my integral colleagues and set the record straight. So, during the holidays, I took it upon myself to scan through the papers that were submitted for the 2015 Integral Theory Conference, which I received as a paid attendee.

I was in search for those levels and for references to people, groups and cultures addressed through language that is characteristic of levels differentiation. In some of the documents, I even entered search words that are descriptive of different first tier behaviors, but the results were disappointingly low. Most of the 47 papers, dealt with either spirituality or a specialized segment of psychology that deals with shadow work. Integral practitioners like Mark Gafni submitted a paper about “outrageous love” and how “we are one” and the spiritual ramblings of a sexual predator avoiding having to deal with his own ugly shadow, who was welcomed back to a community that is so evolved, it shelters him from repeated allegations of statutory rape. There was nothing I could find that dealt with social psychology. To be fare, there were few mentions of terms that hint at the existence of first tier like post-modernism, but in passive, dismissive ways.

I still couldn’t figure out why our highly evolved colleagues would be so condescending towards our work. Then it came to me. At the time I created the Beck-Graves FB page, I failed to check on who owns the word Integral. Apparently, it was none other than Ken Wilber filing a trademark application in 30 BC the minute he heard Eudoxus use it. This has to be the only rational explanation that permits so many integralists to be so abusive with such certainty. So on the behalf of Sir Isaac Newton, Gottfried Leibnitz, my high school calculus teacher, and all the scientists and mathematicians who wrongfully used the word integral for all these centuries, I apologize for the copyright infringement. Expect that all who continue to use the word to be subjected to the wrath of this dangerous posse that loves us the most.

Meanwhile, I will continue to honor Dr. Beck’s wishes and keep integral as part of the name. Not as a subsumed part of the integral community, but as a result of a complicated court decision in a case brought by Dr. Beck’s past partner that limits his use of Spiral Dynamics in public only to the term Spiral Dynamics integral. As I look to 2016 and beyond, I want to start the journey with the few brave people who understand well the Levels of Existence Theory  and Don Beck’s  Large-Scale Psychology. We want to bring the work of these two geniuses to a permanent home where it can be whole on its own again. Happy 2016.

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