September 18, 2009

Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of creative alternatives for responding to conflict– Dorothy Thompson

In the midst of the craziness around us – lavish printing of money to save banks; the dumping of toxic waste on poor countries; galloping climate change; increasing poverty; oil wars and rising unemployment – we could be forgiven for wondering why all this is allowed to happen. Where is the compassion and the intelligence, the wisdom?

Are our leaders not wise? Are they susceptible to ‘groupthink’

Some examples of groupthink:

• The US failure to anticipate the attack on Pearl Harbour, (lets line up all our shiny new ships in one place so we can count them)
• The escalation of the Vietnam war (obviously we will win because we are the worlds greatest superpower)
• The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan based on pre emptive use of military force and the mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction (hello?)
Nice bit about Afghanistan here

Some background on Irving Janis and Groupthink:

They may not have learned, but we have. The groups making the important decisions today are often not made up of particularly diverse people. On the contrary they tend to be made up of particularly like minded individuals. Therefore for the avoidance of further stupidity and pointless waste of human lives, we put forward a checklist for future reference:

1. Decide upon the objectives of your action
2. Create a group of diverse and independent thinkers
3. Thoroughly research the background
4. Carefully examine the alternatives to your proposed action
5. Brainstorm the risks
6. Reappraise initially rejected alternatives
7. Produce solid contingency plans

We have barely made improvements to our thinking since men wasted in the trenches of WW1. Only the weaponry has improved. In future we will ask our leaders to stand up and explain their homework before sending us to the slaughter.

We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future – George Bernard Shaw

The subject of wisdom has given rise to some great and beautiful studies over the millennia. If that knowledge was properly used our world by now would be a fair and just place.
We mourn the paucity of female representation, we are alternatively dismayed and relieved that diversity in belief amongst our leaders is not more apparent. We tend to be discreet about our little fears, but fear is far from wisdom.

Confusius stated that wisdom can be learned by three methods: Reflection (the noblest), imitation (the easiest) and experience (the bitterest).

Buddha taught that a wise person is endowed with good bodily conduct, good verbal conduct & good mental conduct, and a wise person does actions that are unpleasant to do but give good results and doesn’t do actions that are pleasant to do but give bad results. He who leads others by nonviolence, righteously and equitably, is indeed a guardian of justice, wise and righteous

In the Inuit tradition, developing wisdom was the aim of teaching, and said that a person became wise when they could see what needed to be done and do it successfully without being told what to do.

King Solomon taught that wisdom comes from knowledge and understanding. In Proverbs 1:20, there is reference to wisdom personified in female form, "Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares.”

Despite millennia of teaching on the subject we are a fractured and unequal world society. We value wealth more than each other or the fragile environment. We value the acquisition of money more than the suffering we will cause in its pursuit. We value wealth even though every one of us knows it flies in the face of all wisdom.

What Is Money?
Money is merely a measurement. You cannot eat it or wear it. However, money is used as social tool, and like any other means can be used justly or unjustly. It can be used by a few who control it to suppress the natural creativity of millions of people, or it can be used to achieve economic liberation and prosperity for all affected by the money economy.

Read Norman Kurland’s detailed action plan to eliminate poverty. Although this article is from an American perspective, the concepts can be adapted to any monetary system.

1 comment:

  1. "Are our leaders not wise? Are they susceptible to ‘groupthink’"

    Since when was it the job of our "leaders" to be wise? Their job is to represent the interests of the ruling classes and international capital.

    Seen in that light things like the invasion of Iraq are quite logical responses, not the result of muddled committee thinking or "groupthink" as the post describes it.

    The deaths of a few hundred thousand ordinary people who had no option to change their circumstances and any number of service personnel is nether here nor there.