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The Deeper News: Patterns, Dynamics and Mindsets Shaping the Longer View
by Richard Hames
Claims there can be no enduring solution to the problem of poverty, however much we might lament that fact, rest on the premise that affluence is a “relative” condition and will remain so. There will always be people who are worse off than others, we reason, but we can reduce absolute penury by distributing welfare and aid to the underprivileged. This also allows us to feel good about ourselves.
This rationale that poverty is an inevitable state, rather than a conscious choice, is one of the founding pillars of competitive capitalism. It prolongs poverty as surely as it sustains the business of charity. It also drives the view that globalization is beneficial for those living in pre- industrial societies. By and large it is not. Today an awakening in society to various forms of injustice, inequity, and even state-sanctioned repression, enabled by the capacity of digital social media to connect people and ideas instantly, and in unprecedented numbers, has opened up fissures in that reasoning. Obdurate fate is giving way at last to a desire for more moral outcomes.
This is confronting for us. Physics shows us that all competing influences in natural systems achieve a state of balance over time. Correspondingly, the Chinese notion of yin and yang assumes extremes cannot exist independently. Both suppose wealth cannot occur without poverty, nor poverty without wealth. Peace is impossible to achieve without conflict. Healthy economies cannot persist without growth. Life could not have transpired without God. Stories, symphonies, poetry and architecture constructed around this logic hoodwink us into supposing there must always be a counterpoint in order to maintain balance. This aesthetic symmetry is a basic proposition of human nature. It helps explain our cognitive preferences. But it is a proposition that hampers the genesis of any startlingly new worldview.
…If we dare utter the obvious, what we are beginning to glimpse is an entirely new social meme: the fusing of fate and desire into a moral code that can be embraced by the entire human family. The notion of balance in human affairs has been thoroughly discredited.
The only void seems to be a relevant and compelling narrative – and the only ambiguity just how soon and by what means that new narrative might be achieved.
Richard David Hames is a corporate philosopher, author and knowledge designer. Richard is Founder and Honorary President of the Hames Group (a globally distributed think-tank and strategic design laboratory); Director of Thoughtpost Edge; and Distinguished Professor and founding Director of the Asian Foresight Institute at DhurakijPunditUniversity in Bangkok.
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Fall | Winter 2016