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Sunday, 17 August 2014

Sustainability and Moving beyond Solution based Thinking

If you care to read my work, you will find that it contains quite a lot of critique of, and commentary on, the modern world. What you will not find however is the advocacy of any particular solution or solutions. Why?

About this I could say much, but will limit my comments to the observation that history tends to show that what have been presented as solutions, have quickly been transformed into problems. Communism is the classic example, but so is capitalism. And the same can be said of science, technology, some religions, and so on.

It is often the case that (so-called) solutions to the woes of the world are the product of a process that typifies the (western) European-oriented mind – a process that I call, the discovery of the truth, which, in the case of European minds, is often the sole truth. Thus, with the sole truth revealed, people quickly stop thinking, and proceed to the next step which is the selling of the idea (almost as though it were a product), often with missionary zeal, and then, even worse comes the implementation, regardless of the consequences. Then, to deal with those whom, because of some deficit, a lack of right-mindedness, have not discovered the sole truth, compulsion has to be deployed to bring about the discovery of the truth, and failing this, the final solution is implemented.

Communism and Christianity both share this feature, but you will also find the same thinking in science and capitalism as well, but here we have not yet seen the implementation of final solutions on the scale that can be seen with Communism and Christianity (although they are all bound together in ways that I will one day come around to explaining). But there is still time for this!

The influence of science in government is growing, and in a most undemocratic way, and one only has to read the pronouncements of the current (unelected) incumbent to the position of Chief Scientific Advisor (her name is Anne Glover) to the President of the European Commission, to realise that those who have discovered the sole truth are once again gaining influence and power, and using this to spread their dogma. As I have said before, it is not the obvious extremists that one should be wary of, but those like scientists, whom, subscribing to the science delusion, come forth saying what may seem to be reasonable things.

My position on the matter of solutions is that the problems of the world are far too complicated to be amenable to such a simple, European approach. I believe also that, the world has had enough of solutions, and that it is time to adopt a different approach that reflects the true complexity of the challenges that we now face. And this new approach is based on an eastern understanding that there are in fact many truths, and the pursuit of a single truth, is to embrace an ideology, a dogma, which if you care to look very closely, is what many people do. Scientists, along with engineers, technologists, and free-market advocates, are the most notable examples of this in the western world.

What I seek to create are processes whereby all peoples can engage in the discovery and understanding of the elements that create our unsustainable civilisation, and to then begin to explore and experiment with the means of changing behaviours, lifestyles etc. And in doing so my aim is to liberate people from the imposed definition of problems and solutions that come from those with vested interested, and to bring about, in a peaceful non-ideological way, profound structural changes.

The difference between the solutions-oriented and processes perspectives can be compared to building a new path, which is a metaphor that I use in my book A Tale of Two Deserts. The person who has discovered the truth, the sole truth, knows the destination, the place towards which the new path will take us. Socialism, Christianity, Islam, European science and technology, and capitalism all share this deterministic characteristic. It is also something that is deeply embedded in European culture.

But there is another way to build a path, and that is to acknowledge that we do not know where it should lead, and that we need to build it, one step at a time, and discover as we go which direction to take. This is not a process that Europeans find very attractive, being as they are, deterministic, and caught-up in a mind-set of control, conquest and domination. Yet in reality, most people and organisations operate in a non-deterministic way. Who at the age of 16 knew exactly what they wanted to be doing when they reached the age of 60, and among those that did know this, how many ended up doing exactly what they set out to do?

What I am trying to do through my work, is to lead people away from solutions, towards processes that will enable those who want to, to participate in the building of a new path based on the understanding that we need to change our civilisation in quite fundamental ways, but the destination can and should not be defined, for what we are embarking upon is a journey of discovery, which will most probably lead to places we would never have visited if we set off with a fixed destination in mind. And this is one of the most profound changes that we can make in our way of interacting with the world and shaping the future, and is also one way we can begin to deal with the curse of ideology and dogma, which in the end, always lead people towards anger, hatred, violence and oppression. A civilisation founded on dogma cannot be regarded as sustainable, nor will it ever be.

Art and artists have a fundamental role to play in the creation and operation of these processes, and about this I will have more to say in due course.

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