’Fighting Against the System’
When I was thirteen, during a sleepless, caffeine-fueled night which I’d spent watching all-night TV (a total novelty and available only on Friday and Saturday nights in the 80s) until the sun came up I scribbled on the margins of Catcher in the Rye
) “We all want to change the world. Why does the world then change us?”
I’d been binge watching films like Madigan
) and On The Waterfront
) where the ‘system’ was perceived as an invincible, all encompassing entity that had to be struggled against to no avail. I’d lose myself, back then in the fictional worlds of Bullit
) and Fail-Safe
) and the grim, humor of Dr Strangelove
In retrospect it contributed to the career I eventually chose (http://goo.gl/0vJLkf
) and the views I often share, many of which find their way into my books (https://goo.gl/bSTVlk
). We do not live in the 20th century world any more. We know today that we do not have to tacitly accept anything. We understand that when something is not ‘fixed’ it does not mean that it is not fixable, but that we do not yet understand the dynamics of it sufficiently to do something about it - http://goo.gl/8CPzbX
. It means that we lack the political will (which reflects a whole host of unexamined, underlying issues), and it means that we are yet unclear to the course of action to take because we have insufficient data to truly understand the issue we are facing.
In some ways we could see what we do as a fight against the system. An attempt to understand what The Matrix
is in order to better deal with it: https://goo.gl/vwMvAM
. Inevitably that creates a perception of “them” and “us”. It reinforces our misconception that somehow we belong to one camp that is engaged in an active battle of a sort against another.
Yet, the ‘system’ as we understand it, is our own construct: https://goo.gl/kKJQRH
it is formed by our own dreams, desires, wants and expectations. It is given shape and form, will and power from our own actions and inactions. At the heart of our cognitive and physical struggles against the system lie the unstated questions of “who controls the world?”, “what is real?” “can we ever hope to make a difference?” – Physicist James Glattfelder suggests that these questions can actually have answers. Finding them requires asking not just the right questions but the right questions in the right way: https://goo.gl/yOALQg
We can all agree that “the system” in whatever shape or form we think it to be can never arise without us being there. If we give birth to it, then it is intrinsically dependent upon us and when we feel small and powerless in the face of the ‘system’s’ magnitude and complexity it is because we fail to understand the fundamentals that link what goes on inside our heads to what happens in the world around us.
Systems Psychology (https://goo.gl/94HoIr
) is an umbrella term that is applied to the many different behavioral models that govern how our constructs actually work, what makes them function and how we can actually affect them all through our actions.
And that is actually the real message here. Our world is actually ours. It is what it is because of us and it will only change if we become part of the change we want to see. Clichéd as this may sound, it requires that we behave differently to our ancestral biological drives that lock us into reactionary modes of response. So that we, think before we act. Consider before we plan. Assess and evolve our plans rather than blindly execute them and work to understand dissent rather than actively act to quash it.
One plan of action on what all this may look like is here: http://goo.gl/1VRMmN
. It is not nearly enough. On top of appealing to the “better angels” of those who we have placed in positions of power, we also need to call for transparency in actions and accountability in behavior. We need to use the tools we have at our disposal (https://goo.gl/xdIJVb
) to change the way things are done. We need to look beyond the system justification bias (http://goo.gl/dF6TB
) and actually think that despite the short length of our lifespans, we do matter. What we do does have an effect and that each of us, added to the collective of humanity, is responsible for the legacy our passage leaves behind.
In the problems we face today there is not going to be a deus ex machina (https://goo.gl/PM5Kvu
) solution. We have no choice but to be the architects of our own planned salvation. And that course of action has already begun. It is happening now. It is even part of what we do, here, today, reading this column. The power we crave to affect change is already in our grasp. We need to realize it and work to make it part of our new role as digital citizens of a world in constant change.
And just because this is a topic many of us have often thought about I will leave you with Leonard Cohen whose lyrics have always made sense to me :) - https://goo.gl/o6ph5
I hope you planned correctly and are now reading this with a massive mug of coffee in hand and donuts, cookies, croissants and chocolate cake within easy reach. Have an awesome Sunday, wherever you are.