By Charles Bezerra. Not to be pessimistic, but we – as individuals, as a society – have many critical problems to face. We have created a standard of living that is incompatible with the resources of the planet, and it is predatory. Our idea of progress is materialistic, individualistic, and insatiable. We have become slaves of the technologies we’ve created to make our lives easier. Most of what we call work is reduced to filling in templates and repetition. With few exceptions, processes have become more important than people.
Violence, depression, and suicide rates have increased as we feel that our actions, and our political actions, are insignificant in creating real change. Yet it looks as if the thinking we’re using to solve all of this is the main source of our problems. We all have the potential for creativity. But it seams like a virus is blocking our ability to achieve meaningful transformations in our homes, organizations, and society.
To treat our meta-agents (or aggregates) as machine-like, such as we do, is not only obsolete, it’s a mistake. We know that we should treat them as organisms. The problem is that we know only how to think mechanistically. We were trained to think this way: that a department is more important than the company, that the parts are more important than the whole. We broke down everything into fragments. We divided our knowledge into areas, disciplines, and professions. We even divided theory from practice, as if they were on opposite sides. This blind fragmentation made us lose sight of the whole. We were unable to put the fragments back together again. And then we fell into a crisis – a crisis of meaning.
Through achievements in science and technology, we have created the false sense that we knew what we were doing. It seems we were not ready for the gifts and powers of technology. Everyday we come up with new jargon and theories that promise to fix everything. We have become addicted to the idea that something new is necessary. Our logic is always about “more”: we think that to do more, we need more people; to do it better, we need more time; and to do it more quickly, we need more stress.
These symptoms indicate that our aggregates and organisms (homes, organizations, society) are sick. We need treatment. But before exploring treatment, shouldn’t we look at the possible causes of these symptoms? What could be the main cause for our thinking to be so wrong?
I believe that the theoretical physicist David Bohm nailed it when he said, “Our problem is that we think that what we think is the reality.” To him our thoughts act as a system. They tell us that they are reporting the outside reality. In fact they are creating their own version of reality. Take, for example, the idea that our world is formed by nations or that an organization is divided into departments. This seems natural to us, but the concept of nations and departments is a creation of our thoughts. It is something we use to teach to our children, a way of perceiving. It’s not something fundamentally real. We could explore more the details of this, but a final point I would like to make is that there is no easy escape from this frame of mind; We just have to learn to be aware to what our thinking is trying to do to us.
Now, lets finally explore the questions of treatment; How to spread an anti-virus to cure the damage made by this wrong way of thinking? How to not only think differently, but think better?
The way I believe we should be trying is an alternative way, an alternative treatment. It involves less not more, involves just unlearn these old ways of thinking. An awakening stage where we could reflect and give up, as much as we could, the idea of control. Where we could care only about adaptation and distributed power; where we could only consider parts if they unfold from a coherent whole. I agree this might sound strange for the leaders of today, but this is the law of the reverse-effort, a concept familiar to indigenous groups and found in Eastern martial arts like Aikido.
And we of course, we will need a culture to spread this antivirus. Culture is an abstract concept, but in fact it’s is a kind of glue that connects us. Is what gives sense to society and helps us understand each other, it’s where meaning is created. Culture comes from the Latin word Cultura, related to the notion of cultivation, nurturing; so, when we focus on creating a healthy culture into our homes, companies, and society, the seeds grow, everything seams to happen, people seam to know what they should be doing, and they find meaning. The word innovation also comes from a Latin word, Innovatus, related to the concept of change and renew. It’s already clear that we can change everything by changing the way we think. So let’s think in a better direction – Cultura Innovatus – a direction that could take us to higher levels of collaboration, creativity, and optimism.