Start with the whole

Tricky complexity

When I was an anatomy student it occurred to me that the intelligence of the extraordinary human body was beyond the capacity of a human to replicate. And that the way science considers biology is by extracting parts, examining parts, and fixing parts. To make the part an object, separate from the whole, and separate from the ecology in which the whole also is a part.

When we objectify anything we find it easier to exploit it as it is once or twice removed from having identity, essence and meaning. Refugees are objects. Staff are objects. But Racheal, Sam, and Milly the dog are thinking feeling emotional beings that I build a connection with.

We are a whole and we live within a larger whole, like endless Russian Dolls.

All of our systems, be they economic, health, education, government or environment, are like parts of a human body. To examine one system, to try to fix one system without considering the whole, is like trying to fix a broken liver within a human. It’s the patch to suboptimal software.

The extraordinary work of creating a more beautiful world that our heart knows is possible is to start with the whole, to consider the parts within the larger context of the whole, and to heal the relationships and pathways of communication between the parts. It is these interstitial spaces between the parts, the channels of connectivity and communication, that are so often ignored.

Perhaps it is easier and far less expensive to do this than to have a million X people working on fixing the parts. To have ardent teams of passionate people working on fixing one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, forgetting that each of the 17 goals is interwoven and interconnected and requires a whole system perspective to effect the change we most desire, might be a waste of human ingenuity.

The trick…human collaboration and coordination, and people with the capacity to hold multiple perspectives simultaneously. Plus the will to stay the course against the odds.

October 13th 2018

Photo taken October 13th 2017


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