Arnold Mindell, widely regarded for a range of ground breaking work, not least in working with group conflict, defines rank as “a conscious or unconscious, social or personal ability or power arising from culture, community support, personal psychology and /or spiritual power.” Some obvious examples would be the rank we get from our education, our race or our gender, but also the rank we get from feeling secure and cared for or from being considered good looking. The critical thing is that our rank, whether conscious or unconscious, shapes the way we are in the world and the way we interact with others.
We cannot easily change our rank, but we can become conscious of it and use it wisely and constructively to the advantage of both ourselves and others. For example, being aware of our rank is to know that much of it was inherited rather than earned. Being aware of our rank assists us in valuing rather than looking down on people who are less powerful. Power and rank are closely bound together. The more rank we have, the more powerful we are and what is inevitable is that the less powerful will eventually rebel. Awareness of our rank can help ease power struggles of all kinds everywhere. As Mindell writes, “Rank is a drug that makes us feel good. We forget we are on it. Like heroin, we need more and more of it to feel well. We steal from the well-being of others and the environment to support our habit. Finally, the others can’t take it anymore and they revolt.”
The source material from this blog comes from Sitting in the Fire: Large group transformation using conflict and diversity