How does one carry on a constructive conversation today? Maybe it can go something like this…
“These are troubling times.”
- Doh! Obvious!
Our species sits in the middle of a global viral pandemic and an economic recession.
- Is that all?
No. We have other complicating factors too.
- Like what? Climate change?
Yes, and loss of species and ecosystems. The gradual replacement of human labour by smart machines. The growing gap of wealth and power between a small handful of humans and the rest.
- Is there more?!
The polarization of political sentiments. The growing civil complexity across economic systems, political interests, social relationships and culture. You want more? How about the loss of a sense of community and belonging? Meaningless jobs? Stress, anxiety, despair…?
- OMG!!! You’re depressing me! What are we going to do?
Maybe we get back to our roots. Not a recent normal, but an old normal – ancient.
- A simpler time? How is that possible?
First of all we have to form a small group of people who can discuss these conditions and feel that they can reasonably address them in some small local way.
- So you’re no longer lonely. What would that really accomplish?
Well, yes, we are social animals and we need validation and a sense of belonging. Also, you can’t do anything with a negative attitude. You will literally freeze up. A small group can have positive conversations that loosen up our creative imaginations. A small group will help us feel that we have a measure of control that can be scaled up.
- What kind of group?
A small group of fewer than a dozen with a diversity of backgrounds and talents but who share a common concern for making a difference. The members are accountable to each other for delivering the goods they talk about.
- Okay. And what did you mean by “scale up”?
Once you get a pattern of group conversation going and people start to live by their words, you can bring in other people. As the group grows to a dozen, they break it up into two groups.
- Sure, a small group is easier to manage. So it would be like a cell dividing to propagate.
That’s right. If the group activities appeal to others, if they’re fulfilling, then the group will take off and live a life of its own, taking care of all of us. Before we know it, we have a small authentic community made up of small congenial groups.
- I’ve seen many groups form and dissolve. So what’s the trick to make it work?
The group has to frankly address our common human values and goals, the kinds of things that are disappearing from our lives, the kinds of things that would fulfill us and make us truly human.
- Is that it? We need a sober adult discussion? But the group diversity will divide us, won’t it?
Not if we focus on what we have in common. Underlying our differences we all have intelligence and we recognize the talents of others. We start by understanding that as a group we are smarter. We can access better solutions in three ways – 1) any member may have a sufficient answer, better than our own; 2) sometimes we can take an average of all ideas we come up with; and 3) we are bound to come up with new solutions that no one had thought of, just by sharing creative ideas!
- Collective intelligence! Let’s do it!
You’re on! Call a trusted friend! Set up a time.