Many intersections

Complexity and crises galore 


gun - Image by Flavio Botana
Image by Flavio Botana || CC0

This week I have been contemplating the complexity of life right now and it’s becoming difficult to even get passed the multiple emerging crises. A deadly pandemic crisis. A resulting economic crisis. A health system crisis. A criminal justice crisis. Nationwide protests. And the many intersections of these crises as with poverty, racism, education, family life, homelessness, inequality, exploitation, injustice, police brutality, and guns, to name but a few. Probably couldn’t hurt to say that we’re focused on Black Lives Matter, but that doesn’t mean we’re against Blue lives in any way. I hasten to say that good policy and effective accountability serves both the police officers and the people they reckon with and serve.


Riot Police - Image by joanbrown51
Image by joanbrown51 || CC0

Reflective of a growing movement to defund policing, last week the Minneapolis City Council debated disbanding the police force. Now, when I say, “defund policing” it sounds a lot worse than what it really represents. What it represents is a return to a kind of policing that wasn’t bogged-down trying to handle mental health issues, truancy issues, homelessness issues, and all the other social ills that have been dumped on it by government downsizing and hand-washing over the past forty years. But that’s for another blog post.

An incident in Buffalo last week graphically reinforced the argument to disband in the Minneapolis debate. I’d offer the Buffalo video but it’s too difficult to watch. The Buffalo incident is a clear demonstration that we have police officers who do not fit the role as they have dangerous authority issues. Persons who are triggered by resistance have no place in front-line police work. Period. We must find ways to reliably filter for this disqualifying characteristic. Being able to reliably discern between benign resistance and violent escalation in determining response needs to be the standard. Response to violent escalation needs to be sufficient but measured. Response to anything less than violent escalation needs to be deescalation as standard practice. This should be of the highest priority.


Thinking in a systems way is essentially thinking relationally, holistically. Only by considering these many issues in a systemic way—how the parts relate to each other and the whole—are we able to begin to appreciate the complexity and difficulty in driving and making desperately needed change.


system - Image by Gerd Altmann
Image by Gerd Altmann || CC0

Today, I’m writing my opening questions for a particular way of looking at an issue, not the answers. The small piece of this week’s thinking I’d like to relate here is a reflection on the impact of naïve Green [FS] on one of the intersections in the crises-symptoms matrix. I’m unsure at this point, this may be controversial to Spiral Dynamics orthodoxy. I’ll find out when I get any push-back it generates. Let’s see.


I feel that Green [FS] energy tends to push down on all systems [e.g., social, economic, community (to smaller)], pushing the energy down and down, finally to the level of the individual. Curiously, what makes it distinctly Green is that it does this through community. I feel FS trusts, most of all, in community. Not in a homogenizing way as does dogmatic forms of Blue [DQ], rather on a faith in the unity in diversity. Green sees American society as more salad than stew. While each individual’s story has equal intrinsic worth, and FS values seek to make room at the table to hear all stories, Green ultimately sees life being worked out in community, at the community level. Far more than Blue, FS requires a critical mass of good individual citizens to take their seat at the table, fill their place in the community. In contrast to the cog-in-a-machine individual of Orange [ER], in Green community, only each unique individual can take their part. So, in sum, I feel FS hopes to push all the energy down to the individual level so that, through community, individuals are empowered to manage life and doing life together. FS tends to say, “We‘ve got this,” and ‘we’ means all.

A grand vision to be sure. Unfortunately, too often the channeling of Green energies is devoid of Orange pragmatism.

Naïve Green [FS] – evidence of a couple instances

The energy generated through a Green [FS] values attractor is neither good nor bad. This is true for all the values attractor systems [vMEMEs]. Conversely, how that energy is translated produces artifacts (e.g., content) that are appropriate to judge on a good/bad (healthy/unhealthy) scale. So, by naïve Green I’m talking about the inadequate result the FS energy produces, e.g., problematic content. [a pop-culture response to this in general is “OK Boomer”]

flint lock - Image by Rick pending
Image by Rick pending || CC0

So, I feel that the Second Amendment movement has (from early to recent) Green-energy influences [yes, I do expect this may be a point of push-back]. I suppose you’d like an explanation.

OK, FS‘s egalitarian core value has an intrinsic skepticism regarding hierarchy, especially in organizations and systems that are power-heavy at the top. I feel early intuition of Green energy helped the drive to adopt the Second Amendment in the sense of the desire to put top-heavy federal power in check, push some of the power back down to the local level. In more recent times, I feel FS energy has helped drive the wave of open and concealed carry laws in the U.S. [*ducking for cover*].

Please note, by arguing this I am not discounting the important influence of Orange individual rights values (content), and ER gun industry profits (content) at work in the dynamic as well. Any other values attractor could apply for that matter. This is a good place to say that the notions of ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’ are ER constructions. These constructions really drop out on the trip to Green and don’t apply in the same way. This is not to say that many of the political artifacts of Orange don’t affect FS. Let’s focus on Green energy.

Möbius reasoning

OK, stick with me, this may be a bit möbius-like. It’s as though the history of the Second Amendment movement has been both a channel-for and a reaction-against expressions of Green energies. In other words, the same FS energy has produced various contextual content regarding guns that is in fierce political opposition.

I’ll try to explain.

  1. As stated above, at the time of adoption, the Second Amendment (content) was a “channel-for” [FS energy] as a way to bring some of the power back down from the Federal level to the people (individuals in local community)
  2. The argument to defund or disband police departments (content) serves as a “channel-forFS energy (in effect) pushing down the responsibility for security and order to individuals in local community.
  3. The more recent Second Amendment movement’s initiatives to expand gun rights, allow concealed and open-carry, and so forth (content) are both a reaction-against and a channel-for in terms of FS energy. It’s a reaction-against both numbers 2 and 4 expressions of FS energy. It’s a channel-for FS energy in that it pushes down to individuals in community the lethal force piece of self-defense and community security. If every one is armed, the argument goes, “What stops a bad guy with a gun? A good guy with a gun.”
  4. Conversely, gun control and gun safety initiatives are a channel for FS energy through social justice direct action (content).

I hope you do not find fault with me when for various reasons I attribute the naïve designation to these content expressions of Green energy. Naïve and inadequate really sum it up, and here’s why.

Failed response to complexity squared

OK, I mentioned an instance of police brutality (Buffalo). Does that mean police officers have not been harmed by violent brutality aimed at them (rocks, bricks, frozen water bottles) in the protests. Of course not. Two things can be true at the same time.

Policing is not an ordinary job in that it can go from zero to lethal, for both the officer and the subject, in the blink of an eye. The danger level for police work is extremely high, especially with so many guns in everyone’s hands. I can’t help but wonder how police officers and organizations really feel about so many guns in our society.

So, the same Green energy is working on several competing interests. A group is trying to control and limit guns. A group is trying to defund and end legacy policing. A group, fueled in part by the same FS energy, seeks to expand gun rights, access, ownership, and the presence of guns in everyday life. So, at the same time that it’s growing more dangerous to do police work, the license for police to use force of any kind is shrinking fast. When these lines cross, recruiting people to do police work will become impossible.

Of course the reason none of these expressions of naïve Green [FS] energy are effective is that they all fail in one way or another on the fact I wrote above: “Far more than Blue, FS requires a critical mass of good individual citizens to take their seat at the table, fill their place in the community.” In the case of a ubiquitous presence of guns as personal and community protection, the problem here would be the fact that the corollary to “good individual citizens” would be an armed citizenry fully trained and drilled in the use of lethal force. Like the rest of these naïve ideas, it just doesn’t work that way.

[this post approx. 1,600 words (7 mins)]

Your thoughts?

I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?

Note: I know, trying to introduce a big-picture idea like Spiral Dynamics (a complex developmental anthropology) in this format is ambitious. So, I’m using a serial-approach. Blog introduction (June 30, 2018). First in series (July 1, 2018).


SD Worldview Color Key

Riot Police - Image by joanbrown51

gun - Image by Flavio Botana

2 thoughts on “Many intersections

  1. Thoughtful and to that extent very good job. Surprised it ended when it did; was just getting the ball rolling.

    Very first reaction was, “an answer looking for a question.”

    There’s a whole lot of SD that I haven’t read and don’t yet understand, but I just don’t think green intuition was yet viable in the 18th century.(unless you’re going with ‘all colors always forever viable’, but that dilutes your argument to nothing).

    If forefathers intuited green and thus created the 2nd amendment, what of slavery, first explicit in the Preamble, far preceding amendments. Surely that would have been intuited even before guns and would have naturally intuited a being of agency, not slavery.

    And you can bet that American Indians have a narrative history different than your intuition of gun ownership.


    1. Steven,

      Thanks for writing!

      > Thoughtful and to that extent very good job. Surprised it ended when it did; was just getting the ball rolling.

      Thanks for your kind words! Especially the last bit, that is truly music to my ears. My wildest dream when I write each week is that my words might stimulate others to consider something in their own contemplation.

      > Very first reaction was, “an answer looking for a question.”

      That’s interesting feedback. It seems to discount that I wrote:
      “Today, I’m writing my opening questions for a particular way of looking at an issue, not the answers.”

      Hopefully I can clarify. What I am asserting is speculative in that I don’t think it’s SD dogma (well, I don’t know). So, the whole thing is a question stated as an assertion, at least to me.

      As to your main two paragraphs, I’d invite you to read back through the writings of the Christian mystics. They well anticipate the early emergence of both ER and FS by 200-300 years depending on who and what.

      On my view (consensus, not controversial), the Bill of Rights, by the time we get to the Fourteenth Amendment (1868), is an early (conscious, directly-express) manifestation of FS, e.g., minority rights. I’m not trying to say that the earlier Second Amendment (1791) is a direct expression of FS, rather, that perhaps it does reflect an intuition of Green, at least somewhat.

      The mystics indicate the FS energy was in the ether at the time, I’m suggesting (controversial, maybe?) that the authors/advocates of the Second Amendment may have been (not-consciously?) channeling the intuition of Green. That is not to say I mean FS energy was dominant in the creation of the Second Amendment. I feel it would be difficult to determine this one way or the other. So, I pose it as a question.

      I do feel the argument gains traction when it moves to look at how FS may be affecting present consideration of the Second Amendment and the gun debate.

      > American Indians have a narrative history different than your

      Correct. I am not trying to account for that at all. Perhaps you could say more?

      Thanks for writing and providing me the opportunity to add these contextual clarifications!

      Best regards,


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