Showing posts from December 6, 2009

Changing the Riverbed, Part One: Education and Diversity

In his excellent book The Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative force in Your Own Life, author Robert Fritz explains that human beings, like water, will naturally follow the path of least resistance, and that the only way to change the path of a river is to change the direction of the riverbed. In other words, people and by extension systems have underlying structures that control and the activities that occur within them. Winston Churchill described the same phenomenon when he said, "We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us." Once we create walls and ceilings and doors, certain paths are created and others are prohibited. Marx wrote about base and superstructure -- same idea. This isn't new. Buckminster Fuller, whose words serve as a motto on this blog, used this ideato c mraft a process of change. "Reform the environment, stop trying to reform the people," he wrote. "They will reform themselves if the environment i…

The Diversity of E Pluribus Unum

Democracy is built on a multiplicity of voices -- E Pluribus Unum, right? From the many, one. That motto is the description of a process: unification that develops through the consideration and integration of many viewpoints. And it never ends -- there are always new voices to consider, because times change and new people are either born, arrive from elsewhere, or begin to speak -- so the unum is always temporary, contingent, a circle.

There are people who believe we ought to just be happy with the pluribus -- "you believe what you want, I'll believe what I want, let's just not talk about it" -- a concept of social balkanization, intellectual separatism. This is becoming easier in our mass media world where we can create a gated intellectual community with the touch of a computer filter button. But a functional democracy is built on constant friction.

If you look at the way that "Angels in America" Part 2 ends, it is with a conversation between a straight Mor…