Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)
One of humankind’s most destructive impediments is the tendency to perceive imaginary fears as opposing dichotomies or threatening ideologies. In doing so imaginary fears become reality; circumstances exasperate and become a very real "clear and present danger". Desire or fear tend to create an either its only black or its only white thinking which tends to breed mistrust and hinders broad-based inclusive solutions.
Exclusivity of this nature is common in Western culture. It limits our ability to expand our horizons-to gain an understanding of the full context. Frey (1994) notes that, "In these situations of polar opposites, any given position or category is arbitrarily perceived as not the other and is excluded from it" (p. 182).
By viewing reality as either black or white, us or them win or loose, right or wrong, good or evil; we breed stereotypes, limit choices, and distort true-being. If society wishes to transcend current ills, all community members must look beyond their ethno-centrisms and be willing to perceive reality outside their one-world, diametric view.
An essential trait of progressive community leadership is the willingness to take risks and
utilize creative solutions. In orde
r to do this civic governance must be able to look beyond conventional consciousness, have
the faith to try new paradigms and be willing to perceive the world outside personal objectification.
All too often, the objective mentality
separates us from each other and the world of which we are apart. Objectivism by its very nature separates and analysis-while it understands the intricate specialization of its parts, it fails to grasp the meaning of
the whole. Wheatley (1992) maintain
s that human-beings consistently perceive the world through objective terms:
We manage by separating into parts; we believe that influence occurs as a direct result of force exerted from one person to another, we engage in complex planning for a world that we keep expecting to be predictable, and we search continually for a better methods of objectively perceiving the world. (p. 6)
Objectification separates ourselves from th
e world; hence we tend to manipulate objects-
anything in our surrounding world-to fulfill our desires. "To term a phenomenon an 'object 'is to ultimately render that phenomenon district and separate from the whole" (Frey, 1994, p.163). Objectivism is rooted in Cartesian Dualism and, despite Descartes best
intentions, the ideology has created an individualistic culture that revolves around self-interest and dominates the natural world in a mind-over-matter fashion.
By bringing the world under the dominion of our mind we have isolated our selves from it. Once more, this objective perception is also a key factor that separates us from each other. Physicists now realize the limits of objectivism (the very objectivism that had been the foundation of the scientific method) when trying to understand subatomic particles.
"Quantum theory has changed the classical view of science considerably by revealing the crucial role of the observers’ consciousness in the process of observation and thus invalidating the idea of an objective description of nature" (Capra, 1982, p. 376).
Leaders in Business, Government, Educational and those in the legal profession must be able to see beyond their objective tendencies, step outside of themselves and embrace the world in a broader context. If they have the capacity to accomplish this, the "I" that they bring to discussion groups can then embody the "We" of the entire group. This form of consciousness is collective and united towards a common goal. Nielson (1991) declares that, '"I am We' consciousness is different. It is being united in a transcendent, common consciousness of a prior’ We' “(p. 651). If communities can regularly hold forums where dialogue is held in the "I am
We" frame of mind, then the harmful separateness of objectivism can be overcome arid true mutuality of vision can be set into motion.
Nielson's (1991) observations on Lonergan’s theories exclaim how to achieve this subjective frame of mind: How does one cultivate "I am We" consciousness and dialog as ethics method? Lonergran suggests a four moment process: (1) attention to experience; (2) interpretation of experience; (3) reflective, confirming judgment; and (4) responsible decision and action. (p. 662)
When individuals in group settings unite their conscious experiences, remove personal judgment and share thoughts collectively, isolated persons transcend their objective perception of reality and become open to subjective interpretations. Prior to the scientific age, humanity perceived the world subjectively and some cultures still do today. To do so takes a greater deal of faith in the intangible aspects of community building-Platonic traits such as equality, morality, charity and justice. Traits that are often in short supply in many of today’s' communities.
Parker Palmer (1993), an educator whom has lived amongst several spiritually based communities, i.e.; Monastic, Buddhist and
Quaker, emphasized the life affirming quality of subjective perception:
The untrained mind of pre-modern times did not rely on factual observations and logical analysis but on the subjective faculties’ emotions, intuition, faith. These modes of knowing do not manufacture a world to be held at arm's length, manipulated and owned. Instead, they receive the world as a given an organic whole, and they make the knower an integral part of it. Such knowledge does not reduce the world to lifeless "things" but fills allthings with vital, pulsing life. (p. 25)
No man or woman is an island, in extreme scenarios one may be a narrow peninsula, but
individuals will always need to be connected
to the mainland of the entire human community.
Furthermore, that human comm
unity needs to be connected to the entire mass of organic creation. Or as John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, said with uncommon insight over 100 years ago, "When you pick up anything by itself, you find it hitched to everything else in the universe"
(p. 9) All individual entities gather life-sustaining strength through their connectedness to the greater whole. The are no isolated objects, all are subjects of and within another.
Subjectification of this kind, embodies the entire system, all phenomena is intrinsically
connected and affirms itself through feedback relationships. Thinking along these lines
is contrary to our society’s objective inclination because it does not reduce reality
to autonomous segments. Wheatley (1992)
reflects Capra's sentiments on the failure of
objective thinking [weather in physics or human organizations]:
Second, and much more important, the new physics cogently explains that there is no objective reality out therewaiting to reveal its secrets. There are no recipes of formula, no checklists or advice that describes "reality." There is only what we create through our engagement with others and with events. We inhabit a world that isalways subjective and shaped by our interactions with it. (p. 7, 8)