Reaching Into the Universe

Why integral people need more green

Mean GreenThe phrase "non-marginalizing awareness" was uttered onstage at ISE2, by Ken Wilber himself I believe, to describe the integral mindset. But I do not find that people in the integral community are somehow automatically non-marginalizing. In fact, I find a lot of work still to be done in this area, even among integral folk, and I wonder how much of this has to do with underdevelopment at the postmodern level, the level integral calls the Green meme.

The issue is that marginalization is not simply a function of our individual awareness but also of our socialization into the culture we find ourselves embedded in and the systems and institutions created by that culture. Certain assumptions from our families and culture become invisible to us, as do the systems built from those assumptions. For instance, someone raised with the assumption that everyone is either "male" or "female" may experience no particular reaction to filling out forms with the question like "Sex: ☐ Male ☐ Female". Perhaps it comes time for that person to design a form at work, and the cultural norm of asking for sex on everything from credit card applications to customer satisfaction surveys gets copied without a second thought.

To be non-marginalizing an awareness is going to have to do the work of bringing such unexamined assumptions and hidden power structures into the light of day. This is exactly the work of the Green meme, the postmodern level of development that brought with it the tools to do just that, from critical theory to deconstruction.

When I'm around the groups of relatively privileged people who tend to populate integral events—mostly straight, white, older, and relatively affluent—I often find myself wondering how much of that work they've done. It's often not readily apparent in their language or behavior. And while there's plenty of focus on weeding out the "mean" aspect of the Green level (the unchecked narcissism that can grow in the space carved out by Green's pluralistic tolerance), and always the attitude that "everybody who's anybody" in integral of course wants to transcend Green (or better yet, already has), I find myself wondering, "Where is the inclusion of it?" Where is the horizontal development at Green that takes you not only out of your narcissism but into ever growing consciousness of your privilege?

I know, I know. "But if I make my privilege more conscious I'll have to exercise more responsibility in how I wield my power that I don't want to know or admit that I have." Exactly.

Solving the problems presented by prejudices such as sexism, racism, homophobia, and cissexism requires that you do this. Find your resistances, deal with them using the tools of your choice, and get on with deconstructing yourself. This is the only way you will become part of the solution rather than part of the problem in culture and society. Integral doesn't explicitly provide tools to do this—because Green already has and integral includes them—any more than it provides tools for you to carry out scientific experiments without using the rational tools of Orange.

So while we watch Green expressions carefully for problems, let's also watch for insufficient Green as well. And let's not forget to celebrate what's so powerful and still very much needed in this world about Green while we're at it. After all, you wouldn't want to go back to living in the 50s would you?