Thursday, March 14, 2013

Join the dance

photo of birds at feeder in snowstorm
Welcome. Thanks for coming. I don't know about you, but I thought this morning's snow was definitely more for the birds than for the commuters. We got more than was forecast and it came at rush hour. Another one tomorrow? Thankfully, we're on a countdown to actual Spring. One week from now it arrives. This being Minnesota, it may be questionable that the weather gods will acknowledge that it's Spring. We'll see. Since Spring is a time of renewal and discovery, I thought I'd share something I rediscovered last night, while I was looking for something else. Donella Meadow's magnificent piece "Dancing with Systems" was lurking in my download folder. I suggest you read the whole thing some day but here's the section that caught my attention yesterday:
12. Expand the boundary of caring.
Living successfully in a world of complex systems means expanding not only time horizons and thought horizons; above all it means expanding the horizons of caring. There are moral reasons for doing that, of course. And if moral arguments are not sufficient, then systems thinking provides the practical reasons to back up the moral ones. The real system is interconnected. No part of the human race is separate either from other human beings or from the global ecosystem. It will not be possible in this integrated world for your heart to succeed if your lungs fail, or for your company to succeed if your workers fail, or for the rich in Los Angeles to succeed if the poor in Los Angeles fail, or for Europe to succeed if Africa fails, or for the global economy to succeed if the global environment fails. [Emphasis added.]
As with everything else about systems, most people already know about the interconnections that make moral and practical rules turn out to be the same rules. They just have to bring themselves to believe that which they know.
I've (re)read the whole essay several times. It's only a few pages. Like a good poem, I get more from it each time I read it. Do you suppose we could lock all our politicians (they are ours, you know, no matter how much we might want to disavow them, we keep electing them) in a room and play these few sentences time and again until they're willing to sign an affidavit that "they get it?" I started My Minnesota as part of my own personal crusade to encourage Minnesotans to increase their appreciation of and protection for our built and natural environments. I don't know of any way to make people care (try it some time with a two year old). I only hope encouragement makes a difference. Go read Donella's point 14 and then let me know what you think. Thanks again for listenting. Stop by again tomorrow. Rants and raves served daily. Often both on the same day.