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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Thursday 17 October 2013

A Pattern Emerging

I connect dots.  It's a function of who I am.

Here are some dots I'm connecting today.

Child prodigy Jake Barnett suggests we stop "learning" using traditional models.  When you explore the world with your own curiosity, you learn new things, discover new approaches and develop new solutions.

In other words, you innovate.

Gary Slutkin, solver of epidemics, did precisely that.  He stepped out of his usual environment (disease-torn communities) and went home to the US.  He started to look at one of the pressing issues there - gun violence - through his infectious disease lens and realized something; violence spreads exactly the same way disease does.

By moving beyond the old models of disease treatment (which was essentially isolating the infectious so as to prevent them from spreading their illness - exactly what we do with criminals and prisons) Slutkin has created a new way of looking at violence that's working.

At the same time, Dr. Carl Hart is revisting the basic assumptions we have about addiction.  He's suggesting that context matters; by judging the people in absence of context, we're never going to solve the structural problem.

Both of these gents are finding very emotional resistance within the community to their new approaches - what do you mean, there aren't evil people?  What do you mean, violence is a disease that can be cured?  Bullfeathers that social context impact health and personal choices.  That's nonsense, they say.  We're rational, objective creatures regardless of where we find ourselves or what we begin with.  We're simply good or evil, weak or strong, and that's all there is to it.  

Meanwhile, we have political leaders all over the place who don't know where they are headed.  Their objective is to stay in power or gain power, not to lead.  Instead of looking at the whole map of their constituencies, they're targeting supportive or potentially supportive blocks and designing policy and communications to stoke emotional fires and get those folk engaged.

They're using yesterday's tools to try and evoke yesterday's social model, and it's not working.  New perspective, they are being told by people they aren't listening to, is required.

Not many people are into connecting dots.  They don't have time to wrap their heads around the interconnected complexity of maps.  They're all about critical paths, functional fixedness and sticking with what they feel is proven to work.  

But it isn't working.

It's time for change - for us, and for them.  

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