Today’s media platforms reveal that America’s three-legged democracy stool is missing its third leg. Economics and politics are thriving; and the missing third leg, morality—ethics, character, decency, goodness, honesty, integrity, probity, rectitude, righteousness, rightness, uprightness, virtue, virtuousness—is blatantly obvious. Witness suppression of voting rights, mass and social media untruths, cyber and space warfare, infrastructure decay, inequitable wages, healthcare and childcare shortcomings, systemic racism and casts, LGBTQ rights questioned, environmental degradation, untreated mental health, home grown terrorism, immigration overload and inhumanity, thriving white supremacy, inequitable tax systems, politicism of COVID-19 and failure to prepare for future pandemics, education state-of-the art and funding deficiencies, insane gun control, et al.  The danger is continued and deepening division, fear, and autocracy; and the opportunity is to improve common good as individuals; and merge and participate in interactive dialogue and collectively manifest the missing third leg of the stool, morality, or common good, for all Americans. As Jonathan Sacks offers in Morality: Restoring the Common Good in Divided Times,

Recovering liberal democratic freedom will involve emphasizing responsibilities as well as rights; shared rules, not just individual choices; caring for others as well as for ourselves; and making space not just for self-interest but also for common good. Morality is an essential feature of our human environment, as important as the market (economics) and the state (politics), but outsourceable to neither. Morality humanizes the competition for wealth and power. It is the redemption of our solitude. (20)

A personal sentiment for a strategic objective, a solid, three-legged stool—economics, politics, and morality—is to have democracy that inspires measurement, evaluation, and incentives based on achievement of common good, “… what is shared and beneficial for all or most members of a given community, or alternatively, what is achieved by citizenship, collective action, and active participation in the realm of politics and public service.” (Wikipedia)

Individually and collectively, how does one measure, evaluate, and incent the manifestation of common good? With help from those who have done integral theory, spiral dynamics, and common good homework:[1]

Individually: The AQAL (All Quadrants, All Lines) Framework (Wilber et al, Integral Life Practice, 10-26, 70) is a map that helps organize how things fit together and manifest for an individual in the world. There are four quadrants, or aspects of being, showing up, in the world:

  • Individual interior (I): intentions, thoughts, feelings, volitions, and psychology.

-What is surfacing in your consciousness?

-What are your reflections of the world?

  • Collective interior (We): relationships, culture, and shared meaning.

-What are the common feelings and emotions in relationships?

-What are shared feelings in the culture?

-What are common family feelings?

  • Individual exterior (It): physical body and behaviors.

-What can you see, touch, feel, taste, and smell?

-What actions and behaviors are being witnessed?

  • Collective exterior (Its): environment, social structures, and systems.

-What institutions, businesses, and political systems are in the environment?

-What industries are satisfying needs and wants?

A brief overview of the elements within each of the four quadrants is as follows:

  • Levels are higher order structures that emerge as evolution breaks into new territory. These structures reflect altitudes of consciousness—egocentric, ethnocentric, worldcentric. Also sometimes called “stages” or “waves” of development with growing up structures and views. Examples: student to virtuoso; and amateur to professional.
  • Lines are specific areas in which growth and development can occur—interpersonal, moral, musical, needs, and cognitive. Lines are sometimes called “multiple intelligences” or “streams” of development.
  • States of consciousness are temporary, changing, and sometimes heightened forms of awareness—waking, dreaming, deep sleep, meditative states, “the zone,” and “peak experience.”
  • Types are horizontal differences—masculine and feminine expressions, cultural differences, male-female, and personality types such as Enneagram or Myers-Briggs.

Collectively: The Common Good Matrix ( is a model for the organizational development and evaluation of entrepreneurial as well as charitable activities. It assesses and scores the contribution to the common good. Values that promote successful relationships and a good life (Human Dignity; Solidarity and Social Justice; Environmental Sustainability and Transparency; and Co-determination) are evaluated in relation to the five stakeholder groups with which an organization has contact (Suppliers; Owners, Equity and Financial Service Providers; Employees, including Co-Working Employers; and Customers and Other Companies). The matrix offers intersections between values and stakeholder groups offering themes that describe and evaluate an organization’s contribution to the common good.

Out of the starting blocks, one is now able to go airborne in a helicopter, peer down, and begin to become aware and understand how “whole” individuals and collectives “show up” in the world, choosing to either deliver common good or narcissism.

Morality has become a lost virtue and narcissism is on the rampage in America. Mass media headlines offer only the tip of the iceberg. A question for reflection: How can cultural morality be restored? One step at a time! Individually, we each need to become passionately inspired to get our own house in order and to show up for the common good. Collectively, we can merge with groups to facilitate contributions to common good and one can choose to purchase products and services from organizations that have chosen to be measured, evaluated, and incented via a common good report card.

[1] Wilber, K. (2011). A Theory of Everything: An Integral Vision for Business, Politics, Science, and Spirituality. Boston, MA: Shambhala. Wilber, K. (2000). Integral Psychology: Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy. Boston, MA: Shambhala. Wilber, K., Patten, T., Leonard, A., Morelli, M. (2008). Integral Life Practice: A 21st Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening. Boston, MA: Integral. Beck, D., Larsen, T., Solonin, S., Viljoen, R., Johns, T. (2018). Spiral Dynamics in Action: Humanity’s Master Code. West Sussex, United Kingdom: John Wiley & Sons.



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