Halden, Norway’s second largest prison, opened in April of this year, and models the country’s belief about its people, even the broken ones: if you want inmates to re-integrate into society, you have to give them the tools, education and respect that allow them to do that. If recidivism rates are any indication, Norway’s philosophy and approach is working. (See Time Magazine article.) What’s even more interesting is the humane way in which those who work in the prison system view their jobs. They are dedicated to helping inmates transform their lives.
Xavier La Pinchon, one of the world’s leading geophysicists, was interviewed on NPR’s Speaking of Faith recently. What caught my attention was his comment that weakness is part of a living system and that it is that very weakness that enables a system to evolve. Put simply, whatever doesn’t kill the system makes it stronger. It also calls forth those parts of the system that are healthy to aid those parts of the system that are unhealthy.
Systems theory abounds in multiple disciplines. Psychology looks at human relationships through the lens of family, community and larger social systems. Business uses systems theory to teach a manager, for instance, to see how his decisions affect the company’s financial picture as a whole. Feminists teach the value of paying attention to how the larger social system affects an individual’s attitudes and behaviors. Environmentalists refer to the physical world as an ecosystem. Holistic health involves viewing the body as a system of blood, guts and neural networks. Systems are, in fact, everywhere around us, at every level, including individual.
This changes the spin of the story at multiple fractal levels. It also tells me, when I’m having a bad day or a dark night of the soul, to spin the tale differently and see the mythology, rather than the pathology, of my life. Each time, I am invited to do the deep work of the soul, I change my place on the story web and remake the web as a whole.
Your Story: Pick one system you are involved in, even if that system is your personal life. Is there one area that shows signs of weakness? What one action can you take to strengthen that part of your system?