How does change happen? What effect does anger and repeated ranting have upon progressive hopes and visions?
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I just read a brilliant book that has really changed my thinking-- The Systems View of Life
-- by Fritjof Capra and Pier Luigi Luisi.
It's changed my thoughts on bottom-up and top-down and expanded my way of viewing change.
It ties in non-linear dynamic/Chaos theory. One key aspect is that in living systems, change happens when a small event becomes a bifurcation point which becomes a strange attractor where new, creative developments emerge. Emergence is a key aspect of the model.
It is not easy to predict where and when bifurcation points will develop into strange attractors that produce emergence of changes that fractalize
, producing bigger and bigger systemic effects.
These emergent changes happen when the system-- the ecosystem, which includes life, people, culture-- the whole ball of Gaian wax-- is off balance-- because that's the way the system operates.
Remember, this is non-linear. It is not something that happens in a straight line with one step leading to another. There are quantum leaps-- the kinds of events that led to the development of systems theory as a model that explains things the mechanistic, atomistic, quantifying Cartesian, Newtonian model totally fails to explain or account for.
I believe that what WE as progressives need to do is work to support life, which means supporting things that counter the exploitative models of economics that lead to a world system that is wiping out biological diversity and skewing the balance in the world's ecosystem, across all biomes. That is the big picture we need to pay attention to and work on. That means exposing the existing power system, which is wreaking havoc and destruction on the earth's planet-wide life system. That means casting light on lies and abuses. But that is not enough. We need to have a bigger conversation about the future of humanity and envision and advocate for policies and behaviors that move us towards that positive future. That includes solutions oriented journalism-- which reports on positive work and projects.
There is value in some negative emotions, as Robert Biswas-Diener discusses in his book The Up Side of Our Dark Side, and in our interview here.
Anger can lead to good. Shame can lead to good behavior. We need these. They are part of being human.
I've been asked what the effect of publishing angry rants is on making change happen. Do angry rants hurt progressive aspirations? How about angry rants laced with conspiracy theories? I expect a reply from many that conspiracy theories are based on realities. What do you think?
I think that this quote attributed to R. Buckminster Fuller, gets it right and gives us hope:
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
I also feel that in addition to supporting a transition to a system that is friendly to the planetary ecosystem the big change will come about because as Howard Zinn and Woody Guthrie have said, millions of small things will be what save us.
How does this concept change my ideas on bottom-up? In a fractal
way-- reverberating through many levels. One way it helps is the realization that top down thinking is built upon mechanistic, atomistic, Newtonian, Cartesian science and thinking-- a limited, quantitative approach that fails in many, many ways to deal with... reality. What's become clear to me is that the failure and toxicity of aspects of the top-down system-- like predatory capitalism, and the use of non-sustainable fossil fuel energy can be explained using systems thinking.
And systems thinking dovetails beautifully with bottom-up and horizontal thinking, adding depth and dimensionality, adding some valuable dichotomies:
The ideas have really thrown me for a positive loop. They're systemically affecting how I think about the idea of bottom-up values and the power o f bottom-up-- and the power and dysfunction of top-down.
I'll be posting a review of A Systems View of Life soon. Here's what I have so far:
In a sense, this book feels like a Rosetta stone for me, unlocking connections and roots of a panoply of different ideas and concepts.
It starts walking us through the history of science--and how scientific models influenced most aspects of cultures. This is a wonderful section that lays out the people who came up with the ideas.
Now I'm reading about the history of systems thinking. At one point, as the authors were about to begin giving a history and explanation of a concept I'd had a loose handle on, I realized that I was suddenly feeling very excited, like I was in a movie, sitting on the edge of my seat, or becoming aroused and excited. But it was a non-fiction book, on scientific theory. Frankly, at 70 pages into this book, at this point, I am highly aroused, with excitement and curiosity and anticipation. I can't wait to get to the next parts of the book, to put the whole picture together.
This is what a great writer and a great book are supposed to do.
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