‘The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.’ Gregory Bateson
We stand on the threshold of an unprecedented global economic crisis and changes in the climate and natural world the likes of which humankind has never witnessed before. To say that we need a shift in our thinking in order to weather this particular storm would be a gross understatement. Personally, I’d say we need a huge transformation.
Nora Bateson, daughter of Gregory Bateson, one of the most influential and radical thinkers of the last century, has made a documentary about him. Bateson was a pioneer of patterns – of acknowledging the relationships, connections and contexts in which we live, as human beings not separate from the rest of nature, masters or even stewards of it, but as an intricate and important part of a larger ecology.
But it’s our ecology of mind, our ability to think in a joined up way, that also needs an overhaul. In the words of Fritjof Capra: ‘As we replace the Newtonian metaphor of the world as a machine by the metaphor of the network, and as complexity becomes a principal focus in science, the kind of systemic thinking that Bateson advocated is becoming crucial.’
Capra continues by offering some examples of Bateson’s approach to connecting the dots. ‘… if we improved the fuel efficiency of our cars by just 3 mpg, which could be very easily done, we would not have to import any oil from the Persian Gulf. But instead, they prefer to fight a war that kills tens of thousands of innocent people, while the greenhouse gases produced by our cars increase the force of hurricanes that make millions homeless and cause billions of dollars of damages.
If we served organically grown food in our schools … we would not have the current epidemic of obesity among our children, we would not poison our farm workers, and the increased carbon content of the organic soil would draw down significant amounts of CO2 and thus contribute to reversing the current climate change.’
Having watched the trailer, if you feel inspired, as I do, to see the whole documentary, you can find details of upcoming screenings here: