A Systems Thinking Starter
Lots of political, economic, social, cultural type posts flying through my feed recently, lots more from my Christian friends than I'm used to seeing.
I'm feeling very grateful for that, actually.
It implies that we as a people are beginning to see more clearly that belief systems (ours included) can never be isolated to individual piety -- the way we act in the world and the societies we create come out of the paradigms we hold.
But reading the world is incredibly challenging. News outlets share and react to events, but rarely penetrate much deeper. So, even people who believe similarly often come out on different sides of issues. We're stuck asking, "What the heck is actually going on and what does being a follower of Jesus have to do with it?" The tendency is to focus in on these events and the individuals who are involved in them, pin blame somewhere, and try to solve problems that way. Unfortunately, most of us realize that isn't really making any progress...
With that in mind, I thought I'd share some resources on systems thinking that have been very helpful to me in attempting to think through what's going on in the world. The iceberg model below will get you started.
If you are interested in learning more about how almost everything that matters in the world is composed of interrelated systems, here are a few helpful links:
1) Exceptional series of talks by systems guru Donella Meadows, this links to the first of four (she comes in around 6:00):
2) Article by Meadows on identifying leverage points in systems (i.e. how to we figure out how to create change on a systems level? the iceberg pic below is based on this article)
3) The Center for Ecoliteracy has some helpful, straightforward systems explanations:
4) Our minds are a system...here's how they work, and how to think more clearly about the world:
5) PBS partnered with some great folks to create a K-12 systems literacy program filled with videos and resource...tons of gold here
DISCLAIMER: The root word in radical--radic--means, you guessed it, "root." Systems thinking is a process for getting down to the root of things. When you do that, people will think you are a radical. And you might be, but if you do so in commitment to following Jesus yours will be a radicality of love, one that seeks the good of others, lifts up the marginalized and lays down self.