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Declaration of Independents!
Think for yourself. Be truly, deeply independent.
On this Independence Day it is high time to liberate ourselves from dualistic, concrete, black-and-white, us/them, right/wrong, good/evil, all or nothing, right/left, Democratic/Republican thinking.
Declare your independence from the simplistic, destructive, two-party mentality in which you pick which box defines you, your opinions, relationships, emotions, and how you should think about a variety of issues, so you don’t have to figure out your true values.
Epidemic of Mindlessness
We have become progressively more polarized over the decades for a variety of reasons, fueled by manipulated fear and incitement. We have been artificially pitted against each other. We have conformed to groupthink. (see Let’s You and Him Fight: Can We Overcome a Manipulated Conflict?)
Shed Your Skins – Be Post-Partisan
Appeals to be bipartisan, trans partisan, or nonpartisan, to “reach across the aisle” are still part of the problem and reflect dualism and concrete thinking.
Can we evolve past this duality? Can we break out of hardened categories that limit our thinking and range of experience? Can we simultaneously hold one view falsely associated with left and another associated with right or hold a view that transcends both?
Hopefully we are approaching a tipping point. Below are some of my attempts from my earlier work to address this divide.
* THE POLITICAL MATURITY SCALE
* THE NINE DOT PROBLEM
* SECOND ORDER CHANGE
THE POLITICAL MATURITY SCALE: BEYOND RIGHT-LEFT POLITICS
by Diane Perlman, Ph.D © 2003
Political Maturity in Addressing Conflict Scale (PMACS) Items
Introducing the Concept of Political Maturity
This is an attempt to reframe the simplistic, dualistic right-left, liberal - conservative categories in public discourse according to the dimension of “Political Maturity.” Right - Left categories can be used to reduce, dismiss, and demonize those with opposing views in ways that stop thinking and foreclose dialogue. By being descriptive, issues can be raised more accurately, intelligently, deeply and with greater maturity. The Political Maturity Scale is intended to take us “outside the boxes.”
Politically Immature vs. Politically Mature
Strategic Maturity in policies, rhetoric, and actions
“First-order change” - addressing the symptom vs. “Second-order change” addressing the relationship system
Provokes unintended consequences vs. Produces intended consequences
Increases tension vs. Decreases tension
Reactive vs. Proactive
Increases fear and danger vs. Decreases fear and danger (people are more dangerous when afraid)
Provocative, threatening, punishing vs. Calming, reassuring, positive inducements
Destructive vs. Constructive
Polarizing vs. Collaborative, Synergistic
Punitive, Retributive Justice vs. Restorative, Reparative, Transitional and Transformational Justice
Violent force vs. “Metaforce™" (political, economic, social, educational, moral force, positive inducements)
Foreclosing options vs. Generating new options
Ends justify means vs. Using better means for better ends, integrity of means and ends
Bilateral, dualistic vs Multilateral, bringing in helpful parties, stakeholders
Humiliating, intimidating, backing into a corner vs Giving adversary a face-saving way out
Win/Lose orientation vs Win/Win, Mutually beneficial strategies
“Conventional wisdom" vs Creative
Short term focus vs long term thinking, intuition
Reckless policies vs. Cautious policies
Domination vs Mutuality
Mutually Assured Destruction vs. “Mutually Assured Survival™"
Misperceives cues vs. Perceives cues accurately, intended meaning
Focus on one dimension at a time vs ability to focus on more than one dimension (Piaget)
Simplistic, concrete, black & white thinking vs. Complex, multidimensional, nuanced thinking
Rigidity vs. Flexibility, Adaptability
Immediate focus vs. Long-range thinking
Superficiality vs. Depth
Linearity vs. Multidimensionality
Theory driven, self-justifying vs. Data driven, willing to revise opinions and attitudes
Poor reality testing, perceptions dominated by emotions and false beliefs vs. Objectivity, seeing patterns
Static, compartmentalized, fragmented view vs. Dynamic understanding
Dishonest vs. Truthful
Acausality vs. Causality
Dichotomous vs. Transcendent approach
Emotional, Relational Maturity
Gripped by right & wrong vs. Focus on improvement
Concrete, physical, psychologically ignorant vs. Psychological, dynamic understanding
Me and my people are always right vs ability to criticize oneself and one’s group when warranted
Self-absorption vs ability to take perspective of the Other
Bravado, arrogance vs. Sensitivity, humility, vulnerability
Need to intensely hold certain beliefs vs. Willingness to change attitudes and beliefs based on new information
Ego Driven vs. Motivated by Higher Self, Self Originating
Justify previous actions, statements, beliefs vs. self- criticism, learning from experience
See events as unrelated vs. understanding cause and effect
Need to blame other vs. curiosity, responsibility, understanding Other’s motivation, rationale (even if you don’t agree)
Denial of responsibility for one’s actions, effects on Other, provocation vs. Taking responsibility for effects of one’s actions on Others (Perlman’s “Political Heisenberg Insecurity Principle”)
Externalization vs. Self awareness
External locus of control vs Internal locus of control
Gripped, consumed by emotional forces vs. clear, objective thinking
Denial of death, desire to master death vs. Awareness of mortality and vulnerability
Proud vs. Humble
Ruthless, cold expedience vs. Compassionate
Primitive, archetypal imagery vs. humanized, mature understanding
Ahistorical, acontextual vs. Contextual
Dehumanization of Other vs. Empathy for the Enemy
Submission to authority, (only following orders) vs. Willingness to challenge authority
Projection vs. Consciousness
Stereotyped, primitive enemy imaging vs. Understanding the Other
Spiteful vs. Yielding
Vengeful vs. Problem-solving, Healing
Controlling, dominating vs. Empowering
Paranoid style (possibly self-fulfilling) vs. Reassuring style
Misrepresent intentions vs. Communicate sincere intentions
Undermine trust vs. Build trust
Under/Overestimate Other Bias vs. Accurate estimation
Creating enemies vs. De-enmification
Engendering moral outrage vs Inspiring respect
Political Maturity Ratings
1 Destructive Dictators & Despots 2 Dangerous Unconsciously Impulsive 3 Harmful Immature 4 Colluding Neutral 5 Helpful Mature 6 Constructive Wise 7 Creative Transcendent – Visionary, Transformative. Courageous
THE NINE DOT PROBLEM
Our guiding metaphor is the Nine Dot Problem. The goal is to connect the nine dots with four straight lines without picking up your pen from the paper. It is best to try to solve this problem now before looking at the solution.
Most people struggle for a long time, and after much frustration conclude that it is impossible. Many experience the same futility about war, the nuclear threat, terrorism, and ethnic conflicts. Like the nine dot problem, they seem impossible to resolve. A common answer is that we haven't tried hard enough, so it's necessary to do more of the same -- more show of force, retaliation, "sending a message", using threats and coercion, building new weapons systems, stirring up more fear. No matter how hard we try, it seems impossible to solve the problem.
What prevents us from seeing a solution is that we limit ourselves by thinking in old ways that don't work. When they fail, we say it's impossible, or blame the parties. We are so boxed into our usual ways of operating that we don't realize where we can look for a solution.
In the book Change: The Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution, (Watzlawick, P.,Weakland, J., & Fish, R. (1974) W.W. Norton & Company, Inc, New York, the nature of change is elaborated.
“Almost everybody who first tries to solve this problem introduces as part of his problem-solving an assumption which makes the solution impossible. The assumption is that the dots compose a square and that the solution must be found within that square, a self-imposed condition which the instructions do not contain. His failure does not lie in the impossibility of the task, but in his attempted solution. Having now created the problem, it does not matter in the least which combination of four lines he now tries, and in what order, he always finishes with at least one unconnected dot. This means that he can run through the totality of first-order change possibilities existing within the square, but will never solve the task. The solution is a second-order change which consists in leaving the field and which cannot be contained within itself....” (p.25)
“Very few people manage to solve the nine dot problem by themselves. Those who fail and give up are usually surprised at the unexpected simplicity of the solution. The analogy between this and many real-life situations is obvious. We have all found ourselves caught in comparable boxes, and it did not matter whether we tried to find the solution calmly and logically or, as is more likely, ended up running around frantically in circles. But, as mentioned already, it is only from inside the box, in the first-order change perspective, that the solution appears as a surprising flash of enlightenment beyond our control. In the second-order change perspective it is a simple change from one set of premises to another of the same logical type. The one set includes the rule that the task must be solved within the (assumed) square; the other does not. In other words, the solution I found as a result of examining the assumptions about the dots, not the dots themselves. Or, to make the same statement in more philosophical terms, it obviously makes a difference whether we consider ourselves as pawns in a game whose rules we call reality or as players of the game who know that the rules are “real” only to the extent that we have created or accepted them, and that we can change them.” (p. 25 – 26.)
A Solution to the Nine - Dot Problem
Second Order Change
Most approaches we use, such as sanctions, deterrence, counter-terrorism, all forms of coercion and violent force, represent first order thinking. First-order change occurs within a system, but the system itself remains unchanged.
In second order change, the system itself and the nature of the relationships are transformed. For example, arms reductions negotiations are first-order approaches, locked into a framework of assumptions about enmity and militarism. All words and actions attempt to control the symptom without transforming the system, often interpreted in an environment of mistrust.
By contrast, a friendly visit to China with ping-pong diplomacy, a joint space venture, and Gorbachev’s unilateral initiative to withdraw from the nuclear arms race that ended the 50-year Cold War represent second order approaches, since both alter the basic nature of the relationship and all of the assumptions about that relationship. It allows for new and different interactions to occur.
The material on this website represents second order thinking.
The Human Psyche
The fragile situation in the world today has come about by the workings of the human psyche. Automatic responses are "inside the box" and make the situation worse. Psychological processes that are very basic to our nature, especially the ways in which human beings create enemies are at the heart of global threats to security. By coming to understand these processes, we will be more able to transcend them.
The results of our behaviors are challenging us to go beyond them, to be conscious. By going "outside the box" of our limitations, by expanding our frame of reference, we can reach a place where workable solutions may be generated. We can act consciously, carefully and deliberately to make choices that will enhance the quality of life on this planet.
We are living at the most dangerous time in history, with global weapons trade, terrorism, ethnopolitical conflict, increasing access to fissile materials and weapons of mass destruction, and environmental degradation. The stakes are as high as they can possibly be. Exquisite consciousness is required In order to transcend such dangers.
See Wise Power™ Paradigm: Beyond Hard, Soft and Smart Power Quantum Politics and Second Order Change
Design by Diane Perlman, Photoshopped by Mirah Kriger
FIRST ORDER CHANGE 1OC SECOND ORDER CHANGE 2OC
Old way of thinking New way of thinking
Addresses symptoms Addresses causes
Quantitative change Qualitative change
Change in behavior Change in relationship
Change within a system Transformation of the system
Linear, partial Multidimensional, multi-level
Continuous change Discontinuous leap
Conflict resolution Conflict transformation
Compromise, unstable Create new reality, win-win, enduring, stable
No endgame Endgame
Political immaturity Political Maturity
Inside the Box Outside the Box
Hard, Soft & Smart Power Wise Power, Transcend Method