Thursday, June 26, 2008

How on Earth can we have fun living together?

I am writing this on the opening day of the 2008 Tallberg Forum, which takes place in the resort village of Tallberg, Sweden each year.

The overarching question created by those involved in this forum to date is "How on Earth can we live together?" The status of the ability to answer that question was stated (at the end of the 2007 Forum) as follows...

"Do we know what to do? Probably yes. Will we do it? Probably not."

"We know how to be economical, to live in harmony with those closest to us and our community. We know how to cultivate our lands to sustain nature's ecological balances. We know how to stay out of trouble and protect our homes and livelihoods."

From my perspective as a student of three of history's greatest Systems Thinkers (Drs. R. Buckminster Fuller, W. Edwards Deming, and Russell L. Ackoff), I believe the complete statement of the challenge humanity faces can be found by looking at what is missing in the statements above.

What is missing is this:

By saying we know how to live in harmony with those closest to us, what is left out is that we do NOT know how to live in harmony with everyone on planet Earth. In other words, the global "human family" does NOT know how to stop fighting with itself. It is a family at war... a condition that strikes family members even within what we traditionally define as a "family". And - just as traditional families benefit from reconciling their differences - the "family of man" would benefit tremendously if it were to finally reconcile its differences.

I do not know why the Tallberg statements from 2007 leave out the need for the human family to come together as one... to stop the fighting... but this is a Critical Need is we are all ever going to "... learn to live together."

What is also missing from these 2007 statements if fun. That's right... fun.

I will update this essay later on that last topic and more, but it is time for the formal program to begin.

If any of you who are reading this are also at Tallberg, please look for me. We've got a lot to talk about! :)

And if you're not here in Tallberg, please contact me if you'd like to talk about this too.

1 comment:

nigel newton said...

I think that 'fun' must exist in social structures that provide individual liberty. 'Liberty' structures need to have been arrived at through social, local and international, discourse (think Habermas) that reaches consensus about what is valued and what is not. Prescriptive norms stagnate and are open to exploitation by powerful agents (media) but consensus values can relate to absolutes (from a religious perspective) and consequences (from a non-religious angle).
Linked to this, we experience 'fun' when we are at liberty to pursue our interests. Personal interests can be rational and non-rational, intellectual or spiritual, practical or aesthetic, but their shape and expression is always unique to the individual. Our preferences can be controlled and manipulated - manufactured consent and massaged desires – but, as agents in the world, no matter how hard a Warner Bros company tries I’ll probably never be interested in Horror films. On the other hand, if I’m enjoying a coffee in a well known chain at the same moment as a 100,000 other people world-wide visiting the same brand my experience will still be different.
Problem: Values have been divorced from personal interests. We are not encouraged to see or attribute wider social value to our interests. And, our personal interests are discounted from the consumer framework as long as we have consumed, i.e. what interest I had in that doughnut on a wet Wednesday afternoon in Paddington station means nothing to corporation who produce and sell them, as long as from their perspective I’ve been persuaded to part with my cash for their snack and not a competitors.
Idea: I want to feel that there is value to my ‘fun’ – the space, time and resources I use and share with others while I’m having fun contribute to something bigger and better than me. I need to be allowed to become a more active discourser in all the environments I inhabit. Secondly, I want to learn more about how unique, consequently valuable (rare things have worth), my interests are and how I can see more value in them. This, I believe would enable be to experience a greater sense of liberty in my enjoyment of fun, with this sense of liberty I will be less inclined to envy and strive against my neighbour’s enjoyment because I will expect it to also have value.

If this needs explaining, dialoguing more drop me a note. All the best.