SD in Action

The right to be


If we accomplish nothing else, we want to help people recognize that there is elegance in all of the levels, and that constructive change first occurs within levels, then between them. Sometimes the move from less functional to more functional behavior at a level is a huge growth step – from a destructive, subtractive form to a more positive, additive form. Such changes can lead to more sustainable actions and more effective living. Sustainability is not enough, of course; merely maintaining the status quo is a losing proposition because entropy wins. Instead, we must do better than sustaining. Start by fixing what is and, at the same time, looking to what can be.

And, in the long run of time, higher levels are inevitably more effective because we can’t stop learning and creating new existential problems which only new thinking can solve. More of the same is rarely enough; something beyond the system which created problems is required to solve them. But in the short term, finding thinking of good fit, and working to help people think better as they are, is worthwhile. It is constructive, positive change, and often far easier to accomplish than large-scale transformations. If change is the concern, then the existence problems (as perceived), the neurology (internal state), or both must change if a new system is to awaken and endure. This, again, is why the double-helix aspect is so important to utilizing the material in this point of view.

The ongoing Gravesian question is “how is the person thinking about the thing?” That’s the rest of the question that begins with “what’s the person thinking about?” And that’s why the double-helix aspect of Graves’s theory is so much more informative than commonplace typologies and color codes. The interaction of a world with a brain to produce a biopsychosocial system is quite something to behold. The various forms of internal logic those interactions produce are a key aspect of who we are, how our societies function, and where we put our energy and attention. Recognizing those elements of biopsychosocial systems and using them to craft more effective means of being and doing is what our programs have always been about. It’s much more than a color code, and how people think about the theory is one of the most telling assessments there is.

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