There has rightly been a lot of talk about systems over the last several months. Systems are an essential part of all aspects of life. They are meant to make our life efficient, stable, and functional. Biologically our bodies are made up of vast systems like the circulatory, nervous, skeletal, respiratory, muscular, digestive, and so on. Naturally they shape and enable our universe through weather, ecological, planetary, and solar systems. They are intertwining and interdependent mechanisms that produce and enforce a continuous cycle of predictability.
Systems aren’t meant to change. Change to a system causes problems; spurs disruptions, builds ineffectiveness, creates fractures, and provokes divisions. A system only functions when those elements within it conform. Any obstruction to the integrity of the system, either makes it less functional or completely broken. The obstruction must either be bypassed, repaired, or removed. Clots, blockages, pinches, tears, severs, or breaks, all automatically engage a signal for correction and healing.
Both consciously and unconsciously, we have developed and nurtured systems within our manufactured world. They are the basis and sustenance of our governments, our organizations, our institutions, and our corporations. They form our economies, communications, energy, healthcare, housing, and educational processes. They propel our hiring, training, building, aiding, creating, operating, paying, promoting, and benefiting practices. Stretching as far back in time as we can fathom, formulated on a path of a path of a path into the past.
Unlike natural systems, our fabricated structures are not involuntary or reflexive, they are neither impartial or neutral. Our constructed systems are paved with all our prejudices, our perceptions, our fears, our hatred, and our ignorance. The mechanisms for correction are implemented through rules and regulations, and laws and punishment. Yet just as inflexible, just as unchanging. They are systemic.
Over time the processes originally meant to create and maintain consistency, comfort, efficiency, and progress, gradually turn into the opposite. They begin to obstruct, dominate, oppress, threaten, and control. They evolve, not into something new or progressive, but into something revised and similar. Resurfaced. Expanded. Widened. Cosmetic changes but with the same destinations. The ghost of the same path, the same outcome.
Systems are important, essential even. But all systems break. All systems fail. All systems need restarting, rebuilding, reimagining, redoing. This is why new systems must be built within all our governments, organization, institutions, and corporations. With a new road, with broader and more inclusive perspectives, insights, compassion, and voices. Otherwise, yet again, the old operations will bypass, repair, or remove those not working within the rules. I’m repeating and repeating the same inequalities, injustices, intolerances, inequities, and failures to progress.
Perhaps it’s time to do the very very very hard work, get out shovels, roll up sleeves, throw away excuses, and radically imagine systems that better for everyone, based on positive insights, equitable care, reasonable expectations, flexible processes, compassionate perspectives.