Spiral Dynamics in “Falling Down”

posted by Eivind on May 19, 2013, at 8:41 pm

Before reading this post, I invite you to read this one “Writing a movie review: Falling Down”. They’re part of the same unfolding.

As my intention for wrapping up the review of Falling Down this weekend was so strong, I want to give you something. In that discarded review, I inserted a piece on Spiral Dynamics, the preeminent model for the growth of consciousness in the world today. It seemed integral to the message I was conveying. But that message didn’t inspire me in the end, so this may be the only place you’ll find it. I hope you enjoy it. It stands well on its own.

Climbing the spiral

D-fens is a traditional man. In spiral dynamics, the traditional level of consciousness is associated with the color blue. It signifies qualities like loyalty, duty, allegiance to God and country, adherence to rules/laws, a moral code etc. The sphere of people with whom I identify share my ethnic background, values, beliefs and sexual orientation.

spiral_dynamics_model_thumb1_thumbAfter the traditional level of consciousness comes the rational/modern. It’s associated with the color orange and signifies qualities like rationality, striving for success (the American Dream), efficiency, profit and mastery. Science trumps God and skill trumps race. The sphere of people with whom I identify grows to include those who are useful to me (who provide relevant skill), regardless of ethnic, religious background or sexual orientation.

After the rational level comes the pluralistic/postmodern. It’s associated with the color green and signifies qualities like empathy, community, tolerance, egalitarianism. As a member of this stage of consciousness, I now identify with all people in the world, even the totally fucked up ones (which is part of the problem).

These three stages form the last three stages of what is commonly referred to as 1st tier consciousness. When consciousness is said to be of the 1st tier, it means that it’s a stage of consciousness that is incapable of recognizing the contributions and truths of stages of consciousness different to its own. So when a God-fearing nationalist of the traditional level discusses with an atheistic businessman of the rational level, they are 100% incapable of recognizing that the other holds significant truths, essential to the overall health of the spiral.

Before we return to the movie, I need to point out one very important feature of the pluralistic stage. And to do that, I need to tell you that the stage of consciousness below the traditional is egocentric. It’s associated with the color red and is signified by qualities like power, dominance, territorial disputes etc. Think of the urban gang William encounters in one scene.

In its observance of laws, morals, justice etc, traditional people will be happy to e.g. put someone to death for breaking the agreed-upon moral code. Pluralists reject such things as inhumane and insist on rehabilitatation. And while moving from punishment to rehabilitation is an important step, these green meme people don’t recognize that some people cannot and do not want to be rehabilitated.

Their naive attitude tends to turn the more liberal nations of the world into free havens for people at the egocentric stage of development. My home country Norway demonstrates this tendency when it works hard to protect the human rights of terrorists, who tend to have a lot of red meme anger and hatred in them. Recognized terrorists such as Mullah Krekar are free to run terror-networks from Norwegian soil while the judicial system searches indefinitely for ways to address the issue without compromising his human rights.

Conservatives will of course scoff at this overly liberal mentality. And with good reason.

With that said, we should be fully equipped for the next and final lap of unravelling the gold of this movie.

To reiterate: this excerpt is from a movie review I’ve discarded.

I’ll wrap up the rewritten review of Falling Down when I get back from Frankfurt, hopefully with new inspiration and insights.

Thanks for your interest and your patience.