|Well, that is a system...|
I work hard to understand systems of which I am a part. That’s because when I recognize how they operate – what drives them, influences them, and my role in them – I can interact in beneficial rather than harmful ways. Some systems can be challenging to think about. That’s because the most complex ones have lots of moving parts.
Then there’s the challenge of knowing or learning all the parts of a system. Lop on top of that the fact that our world these days moves so quickly. It’s brimming with activities and information overload. Taking all that into account, it becomes hard to even want to understand how systems work, let alone try and appreciate how they might affect us and each other.
Systems as I define them consist of more than two persons, places or things interacting either with each other or something/someone else. They can cause a chain reaction of events or even ways of thinking. An example of operating within a system is when on the freeway.
Despite a bunch of other vehicles on the road it can feel like we’re out there only doing things individually: driving fast or slow, passing or being passed, entering or exiting the freeway, etc. Yet in fact, we’re operating collectively with other vehicles on the road. All of them. We are cooperating with other drivers. Or not. Even the ones too distant to see. (Consider a distant car accident and how it eventually affects the flow of traffic around you.)
A more immediate example is when another car is merging from an on-ramp: you have to decide whether to change lanes, go faster, slower or maintain speed. The oncoming car has similar options. So do other vehicles close by. What one does effects what the others might do. Or not do.
This is my exit.
So it is with social systems. What one person says or does in a situation can impact what happens to others. Cause and effect. But it’s deeper than that with human beings. That’s because there are a bundle of other factors in play, not the least of which is perception. There’s also how a person was raised, the experiences they went through and what they’re currently going through.
We as a people are approaching a turning point. Much of it is with regard to how we look at and interact with people different from ourselves. It’s about skin color. And gender. It’s about sexual orientation, class, ability and age. And religion.
It’s about a system of shutting down and turning our backs on those who are not like us. It’s about a system of not believing or even considering the possibility that what a group of people say is happening to them is happening. Not even remotely considering it, despite the presence of prejudice, discrimination, protests, bullying, beatings, maiming and killing.
It’s about a system wanting to keep things the way they are, staying within the comfort of our own beliefs – and if it’s at the unfortunate expense of others, so be it. It’s about desperately trying to maintain the current belief system because to consider otherwise is to tilt your world; tilt it in a manner that causes you to rethink a whole lot of things. And yes, this cuts in all directions.
Future generations will look on this important period with great interest. Which side of history will you be on?
Follow J.R. on Twitter @4humansbeing or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.