We have the power to break out of our systems...

"When we live in a system, we absorb a system and think in a system." - James W. Douglas

We all have systems we live in.  Some are work-based. Some are religious. Some are cultural.  We have biases that are based on those systems.

Systems exist because to a certain extent, they work. The challenge is when we believe our systems to be everything.

Does that make sense?

When we believe our systems to be everything, we start making them universal, unaware that we are biased based on that system. 

I work in an industry that is a small piece of a bigger industry.  One day I caught a meeting that dealt with an aspect of the bigger industry and I realized just how much was happening that was beyond my own small slice of the pie.  For a moment, I "saw" the bigger picture.  And it changed my perspective.

One of the most effective ways to expose your system bias is to spend time in other systems.  To have friends who are different from you. To read books that espouse different ideas. To travel to different places.

When I was young, the religious system I was raised in had a habit of encouraging people to only hang out with people, read books and listen to music based on its system.  (Safe for the whole family, so to speak.) There was a fear of people "going astray" and leaving the system.

But the thing about truth is that it is true. If a system is completely based on truth, then it will stand up when challenged by other ideas and systems—better yet, it may even create change in the outside systems it touches. 

In the corporate world, I've seen this in professional organizations.  Best practices evolve through cross-pollination of people with different experiences and perspectives sharing information. But some companies don't give their employees the freedom to participate.  I heard it said by one firm that they didn't want their employee "shopping their next job" in the professional organization.  While that sounds short-sighted, for them it may have been true. If their culture didn't stand up when compared to others, then their fears may have been founded. However, by taking that stance they ensured that their system stayed protected from improvement.

In nature, there is a term: biodiversity.  Biodiversity is the degree of variation of species in an area. Ecosystems that are biodiverse tend to be more healthy and stable. I believe there is intelligence and purpose in our own human diversity—especially when it comes to how we think about things. Problems are more easily solved when there are different perspectives working together. The gridlock occurs when those people are blind to their own biases and defend rather than letting other perspectives expose them.

In history, we've seen the horrors created by leaders who wanted to purge that which was different. (On a smaller scale in our middle school cafeterias.) Pursuit of monoculture produces holocausts. But I think we miss that this starts as a personal practice rather than a national one. If we are not creating our own biodiverse systems then we will never see our own bias.

We all have ideas that define us. Things we believe in.  The thing is that the ones that are universally true hold up under exposure to that which is different.  We don't have to live in a bubble.  In fact, I would argue that it is healthier outside of it.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall