Posted by kari.petroschmidt
We manufacture the future every day through every action we take or fail to take. The faster we act, the faster the future closes in on us. Work harder, work smarter, work more efficiently – these are the rallying calls to the war on the complexities we face. But some of these complexities exist precisely as a result of our attempts to combat them. Let me explain.
Many of the great minds of our time have latched on to the fact that we seem to be fighting a losing battle. They are calling for us to adopt a deliberate slowness or reflective stance. This is not an argument against progress. In fact, it is an argument for progress, because “appropriate fastness” and “reflective slowness” are the ways we can use to deal with the complexity of the modern world.
Many would disagree and point to technology as the culprit that has unleashed this situation on us. Others will campaign for more deliberation; high power talk shops and the like to give us time to consider the ramifications of our deeds. But will this help us out? Will naming the sinner absolve us of the sin?
I maintain that it is not the technology that is at fault here. It is the way in which we harness it. Maybe we are not using the time that technology saves us. Maybe we are too hell-bent on doing more in the minute. Maybe the sales pitch is wrong. It is not about the well-known concept of more, it is about the moment. It is about extracting meaning from every moment and reflecting on it and basking in it. This is a better more!
But the moment by itself and in itself is of limited value unless it is in the context of the social. We are temporal social beings; “the moment” and “belonging to” are part and parcel of our contextualization and realization. It is in how we relate to each other and it is in the stories we share. Some of our greatest works come from our ability to be good to each other. This requires a time for affection and for understanding, for living in the world of those around us. It disappears fast when we strive for more action in each second. We have to learn to trade action for reflection.
I believe that we are now more in need of technology than ever before. I also believe that we must see technology for what it is: a tool! Tools to save time, tools to make room in our minds for dreams and for sharing them. However, unless we are reflective and socially connected, we will miss out on the benefits and we will remain in the battle against the enemy we create so successfully. This enemy is borne of the rush for more things, the rush for the adrenaline fix to combat loneliness and boredom, and the general feeling of loss of meaning that comes from living past each other. This adds to the murkiness that makes it difficult for us to see the patterns that we need to discover to deal with the complexities of our time. So many of these complex situations are a result of our drive for more action and more things without appropriate reflection. We have rushed into the future unprepared and without thought.
In practical terms, being on Facebook is not being connected, eating your lunch while you surf the web is not being reflective. Nope, you have to shake hands and share a meal and a good yarn. There is time enough for that, and you will be surprised how many problems have solutions in the reflective space between people. We face climate change, population explosion, poverty growth and imbalances everywhere. I am sure that if we look carefully and collectively, we’ll see the patterns to solving these problems and we’ll evolve through these tough times.
 “On the Importance of a Certain Slowness”, Paul Cilliers in “Thinking Complexity”, Vol.1, ISCE Publishing, Mansfield MA, 2007