Integral Activism - Healing the Divide

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to start this discussion because it’s becoming more and more clear to me that there is a wide divide between intellectualizing the why of a particular event as opposed to taking action in response to said event. I think it’s great to be in discussion about the concepts of Integralism, but how are we putting them into practice in our day to day lives?

Moreover, how are we using them to help heal the obvious divides in the US and abroad, particularly between liberal and conservative tribalism? My general sense is we can write all the articles we want, but it’s not going to do much to actually begin the healing process until we put the concepts into practice.

For example, the Kavanaugh confirmation was extremely polarizing. One need only spend a few minutes reviewing his responses to the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee as compared to his responses to the Republicans to see the expression of that divide; there was no question, no statement a Democrat could say that Kavanaugh didn’t feel was an attack against him. This had nothing to do with the substance of the questions and everything to do with what appeared to be his Blue “us vs. them” mentality taking dominance of his consciousness, as well as his Red survival instincts. His defense mechanisms were fully operational.

When one side–like we saw expressed with Brett Kavanaugh–is “closed,” to use the Spiral Dynamics term, what can we do in the world of form to help create opportunities for more open dialogue? While I realize not everyone may be called to facilitate that type of conversation, I recognize that many of us employing 2nd Tier thinking may feel like we can help.

I feel like one way to start is to find ways to make it feel safe for Blue (especially Conservative Blue) to engage in dialogue with those they may perceive as “other.” Defense mechanisms can’t operate if one doesn’t feel as though they’re experiencing some form of conflict, some kind of threat, so how can we make Integral concepts feel more safe, and make us–as the ambassadors of what I’m sure many of us would agree is a better way of being in relationship–“safe” to listen to?

I personally am thinking about how I could create “circle of trust” groups (in the Parker Palmer sense of the phrase) where conservatives and liberals can come together to learn more about one another, and to begin seeing one another as human beings rather than as “other.” These groups would be grounded in knowledge of Spiral Dynamics since I feel that model holds the most promise as a “map” we can use to find common ground in our various stages of consciousness. How I get conservatives to attend I don’t know, but it’s something that feels like it could make a difference.




Hi Russ, appreciate your clear view of where changes are needed. Creating a “circle of trust” is truly a challenge. I just spent Thanksgiving (Canada) with my brother who is, at the moment, allergic to anything blue/green. It gave me the opportunity to use some Integral concepts and put them into practice. I had to listen to his point of view without outwardly showing the gritting of my teeth while being aware within myself of all the areas where I felt he was skewed in his interpretation. In other words becoming aware of my assumed point of view. On the other hand my sister-in-law is so Liberal in her ideals it brought out shades of the (Integral) red spectrum in me. And we all actually love one another. Happy Thanksgiving…

To bring in a ‘circle of trust’ meant I had to be willing to be conscious of where they, I and we were coming from in a communication. This takes a huge willingness to be present (not easy after turkey dinner) and open. I felt the hours of reading, meditation, self reflection, recognizing areas of my shadow, awareness of waking up and growing up all came together in an opportunity to ‘show up’. Having to be aware of all those things brought many pauses within myself in order to listen and reflect before I would speak. The intention to consciously create a bridge to common ground was worth it. We still care for one another while having a new respect and insight in each others “ladder/climber” altitude view. We may not agree on each others solutions, but recognizing and entertaining wider deeper views can bring about solutions not yet seen. Solutions that are acceptable and practiced by a wide variety of views.

Practicing Integral methods has had powerful and empowering affects in my life. Using that skill in every communication is daunting but doable. The outcome is worth it, I believe, for the evolution of consciousness on this planet. For me, to create a ‘circle of trust’ starts with family and friends.


Hi Russ,

If you’re not aware of it, you may want to check out the new non-profit organization that Integralist Terry Patten has just started. He’s the author of “A New Republic of the Heart: An Ethos for Revolutionaries,” a book on integral activism, and the non-profit is called A New Republic of the Heart. There is a website already up and running at and volunteers are being sought to join the effort. Your circles of trust might fit in well with some of the work this group will be doing towards, among other things, “healing cultural and ecological crises.” The website emphasizes that the various kinds of work that may/will be done will be “non-oppositional,” which fits nicely with your desire to “make it feel safe” for conservative blue/amber to engage in dialogue with those they may perceive as “other.” Check it out and see what you think! (You can also read my hastily written review of Terry’s book under the topic Integral Activism on this site.)


Hi LaWanna, thanks for posting this! I had heard of Terry’s book (I think from a previous Integral Life interview), but I just bought it on Kindle today to read when I can carve out some free time from my ministerial studies. It looks very promising.

Angelika, I think you hit on a great point that surfaces all the time in the Science of Mind tradition, which is that change first begins within us, and only then can change occur outside us.

I also think family is a uniquely powerful opportunity for integration, as the “Thanksgiving Effect” forces multiple divergent viewpoints to the same table. There is a deep and powerful archetype around the idea of breaking bread with those who don’t necessarily share your worldview, and I think this type of event could be expanded beyond the family (indeed, there are already some event models like that dedicated to healing systemic racism that have been very successful). The challenge, I believe, lies in the fact that this type of event is likely going to be more challenging in ways that a regular family event won’t be since the tribal bonds take time to form. Nevertheless, I think it’s doable because the common experience of breaking bread is something that touches almost everyone at a deep level of consciousness.

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“The challenge, I believe, lies in the fact that this type of event is likely going to be more challenging in ways that a regular family event won’t be since the tribal bonds take time to form.” You are so on the mark Russ, tribal bonds take time to form, there is no one solution fits all.

As a participator in several different groups the dexterity and nuances to maneuver within those groups, (some in a different culture) when conflict arises, has a similar flavor as the Thanksgiving dinner. What makes family and friends (and work and beyond) events useful is it strengthens the muscle to keep an open mind and heart as part of the dialogue within oneself. Externally it may appear as disagreement, misunderstanding and cultural divide. As part of the human tribe you have to start somewhere. :slight_smile:

Observing effects of the lower right quadrant in Integral theory can reveal external systems and patterns of groups, cultures, politics, economics and tribes already present in our world. We as an individual, society and culture are experiencing challenging times on all quadrant fronts. For me Integral methods are tools that help me move through this world with a deeper respect for myself and others. It is why I take the time to consider and respond to your words on this platform. Knowing there are individuals as yourself willing to look for more encompassing solutions…well I’m grateful. Would break bread with you anytime.

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