Making the world better

Dear Lene and Thomas:

On page 416 you list the ten circles of belonging because that is an important concept in building meta-modern societies. The idea is that societies benefit as people broaden their circles of belonging:

  1. Self/Ego
  2. Family 1
  3. Peer Group
  4. Family 2
  5. Community
  6. Nation/People/Religion
  7. Culture Zone
  8. Universal Principles
  9. Humanity Today
  10. Planet and future generations beyond great-grandchildren

You also remind us of Kegan’s five layers of mental complexity: (1) early childhood, (2) self-consolidating, (3) self-governing, (4) self-authoring, and (5) self-transforming (pp. 416 & 417). You wrote that meta-modern societies depend on citizens who function at layers 4 and 5:

From an ego-layer 5 perspective as self-transforming, going through life feeling a sense of belonging in all ten circles, with that kind of complexity of mind and intimate as well as global connectedness, is deeply fulfilling. It is very meaningful and exciting, as long as you are not the only one around whose mind works like that; we all need to have others with whom we can share thoughts and feelings.  (416 & 417) 

From ego-layer 4, self-authoring, embracing circles 7-10 may be the inspiring parts of one’s personal journey. By becoming conscious of one’s culture zone, universal principles, humanity, and current and future planet, embracing all of them and feeling a sense of responsibility and excitement about engaging in them, one grows with the challenges. In the process, some may sever some of the ties to one’s smaller in-groups and feel a new kind of personal freedom and responsibility towards something bigger. Not just a bigger consciousness but a bigger conscience. (p. 417)

Both your book (TNS) and mine (TSVOTEP) discuss the ideal of the fully developed (educated) person and the environment in which development occurs. TNS borrows from psychology for personal development (Kegan) and from the world values survey, which presented seven circles of belonging, which you extended to ten.

TSVOTEP points to the 6 ingredients of all virtues, and it describes why we need to shift the 5 elements of American educational institutions: (1) from a core belief in democratic governance to a belief in the six-virtue definition of the educated person, (2) from purposes focused on higher test scores to modeling and teaching the six virtues, (3) from a democratic form of governance to governance that models the six virtues, (4) from an organizational structure that is bureaucratic and hierarchical to one that is communitarian, and (5) from a social scientific improvement paradigm that strives toward effectiveness to one that is aesthetic and strives toward appreciation.

In other words, we are saying similar things as we discuss how to build a better world. You make an important point by arguing that societies need to build several kinds of institutions that make citizenship rewarding. Examples are churches, families, and other cultural institutions. My focus is on educational institutions. As you pointed out in your review of Nordic history, the “secret” started with Folk high schools because the elites recognized the importance of a well-educated citizenry across all classes. 


There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment