Monday, December 03, 2018

Just One Fifty

We have limited capacity. Limited time. Limited attention. Limited energy. The power of this is that we will make different mistakes. Mistakes are the foundation of resilience in an unpredictable world. With perfect knowledge of the future, doing what works again is sensible. With a complex, ambiguous, and uncertain world... small, regular, reversible mistakes are strength. 

Financial Empowerment (Ending Poverty) and Mental Health (Relationship Building) are my areas of focus. In 'Factfulness', Hans Rosling identifies five key threats we are wrestling with. Global Pandemic (the rampant spread of a disease in a connected world), World War (with weapons that could wipe us all out), Financial Meltdown (with the systems that keep us cooperating breaking down), Climate Change (where the resources and environment that sustain us breaks down), and Absolute Poverty (where Billions are excluded from the opportunities our ancestors built). These huge challenges facing 7.5 Billion people seem way to big to wrap our heads and hearts around.

It also means there are 7.5 Billion other heads and hearts facing the same challenges. The resilience, endurance, and creativity can come from everywhere. How do we narrow down and choose our own particular area of focus?

I am attempting to do that by joining others to build a Community of 150 People. 'Dunbar's Number' gives a (relatively arbitrary) number to the limit of our ability to develop stable social relationships. A group of people where you can know everyone, and know how everyone knows everyone. Where you can develop an understanding of the group's values, skills, and knowledge. An understanding of the group's story.

This should allow the ability to put names, faces, and stories to massive problems. Instead of 'X million people' don't have access to electricity, clean water, safety etc., it becomes a person. Mike doesn't have a bank account. Kerishnie doesn't know how to put a C.V. together. Thandiwe is old, and lonely. It also allows relationship building with people to be done in a sensitive, peer-to-peer, way.

We have a horrible history of 'Civilising Missions'. Where people with Saviour Complexes have attempted to spread their truth roughshod over established beliefs and strengths. Helping sensitively is hard. It is a minefield. Not to treating people as problems or projects. Regularly reflecting on the real intentions behind our actions. Unwinding our unknown prejudices.

I believe a group of 150 is sufficiently small for us to stretch ourselves. The 'Six Degrees of Separation' theory, is that all 7.5 Billion of us are connected by just 6 relationships. One knows Two, who knows Three, who knows Four, who knows Five, who knows Six, who knows Seven. That viral spread of knowledge lets what we learn benefit everybody. In a group of 150, we can try get the balance right between Local and Global. Stretching ourselves enough that we don't snap the 'Peer-to-Peer' connection. Enough common ground to see each other, enough different perspective to create a discomfort from which we can learn.

Those big risks we face are daunting. We need to break them down into bites. We need to look after ourselves, and each other. I believe that starts with Community Building. 7.5 Billion people is a lot of people to care for. How would the problem change if you focus on just One Fifty? How would you build that One Fifty?

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