Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Theories and Paradigm Shifts

How does one contribute to the world of theory and thoughts. For me it is all about paradigm shifts. How do we create them, how have they been created and are they really sudden shifts or the product of years and decades if not centuries of efforts at their creation.
You see, for me, in this crazy world of the 21st century when we, the human species, are facing a potential crunch and catastrophic demise of us - in the end it is not about the earth it is about us in a very selfish way - a shift of understanding, of thinking, of perceiving and of interaction is needed. Not some new technology, some wonderful energy source or any such "rational" solution.
It is about changing the stories that guide us as societies. It is this that excites me, scares me and keeps me awake at night. I don't know how we create this change, nor what would catalyze such a change. But, I do know in my heart of hearts that it is needed. There have been moments of shifting in humanity. Not that it has always been good or bad. Perhaps that is a silly distinction to try and make anyway. What I do know is that I grew up in a country driven by a set of stories, (or what some would call - myself included, at times - ideologies). These stories for some people were true - "the black man will drive all whites into the ocean", "the civilizing mission", "defend SA from the communist terrorists like Nelson Mandela".
These are but some of the stories that I grew up with. They were in the TV news, newspapers, schools, history books, lunch time tea room chats. They pervaded everything in our society and culture. Yet, there was also a counter story, an understanding that this paradigm that had been created by our racist and sexist government was not the "truth". That it was only a version of reality that was constantly reinforced by the propaganda machines.
Then, one day, something clicked, something changed. What? Why? Did it really change? If not, why not? What is it that we can learn from this transition. Can one ever replicate this type of shift.
A shift from a society driven by stories of racism and fear to as society driven by a new story of possibility and capitalist wealth. Yes, the transition, the new story driving South Africa is not necessarily the best, the solution, the end all of stories. I am not sure that there is one. But, no matter which way you look at it - a shift occurred on an unprecedented level.
It is this type of change that is so critical, it is understanding how to create and put pressure on the levers that creates a sense of possibility in our world society.
The next shift needs, and I want to emphasize the word "needs", to happen on a global level. We have the technologies of communication, we have a global sense of ourselves for the first time. It needs to be global because the issues we face are global and we need to understand how to push such a shift to the fore.
For me the answer, the know-how, rests somewhere in theory, in stories, in how we see the world and how we tell and are told the stories of life and liberty and happiness. It is these stories that make us get up out of bed with either fear and loathing in our hearts or with happiness and possibility.
I want to be part of creating these new stories, of exploring theories and creating new understandings that take advantage of the cracks in the facade that exist and help create new spaces for thought and action. I am not interested in creating a new technology, of finding a new miracle cure, of using less energy and driving an eco car. These are like band aids on a wound that is sooo gaping that it is impossible to cover with little band aids.
We have to face the fact as a species that we need to rethink the whole equation - the whole structure that has been built up over the past 500 years. It is time to engage a new way of being, of sharing on such a fundamental level that for me at this point in my life it is indescribable.
It is something that I strive to understand and contribute too. It has been much of an internal journey - and it is one that I am trying to find a way of expressing and understanding. Of writing about, researching and expressing. With the ultimate goal of contributing to the rewriting of our stories so that a new story can be told and lead to a new set of possibilities. Perhaps this is a romantic notion, but for me, my internal reality says that I can't just sit ideally by and be a "member" of this current paradigm. I don't fit. I want to tell a bigger story, to share with others my insights, my views into the cracks so that others might see them too.
We have to understand that the next shift is great, critical and holds the potential for such beauty and splendor that it brings chills to my skin.

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