Sameness makes everything seem dependable and secure. In contrast, diversity and disturbance introduce unpredictability and discomfort. So, to enrich life and better navigate complexity and change, welcome and engage diversity and disturbance as signals, stimulants, and resources for deeper insight into what’s developing beneath the surface and what’s needed to address it.
Some related patterns: 6 Capacitance 26 Diversity 29 Expanding Situational Curiosity 39 Generative Interactions 44 Healthy Polarity Dynamics 56 Multiple Perspective View 90 Well-Utilized Life Energy
Going deeper …
This is an edited version of the video on this page.
If we have a community, a government, or a company where everything is super stable, everything is going fine, everybody knows their roles, everybody kind of believes the same thing, believes in the same way of organizing things, and buys into that totally, then that’s all fine and good. Some of the people who are outliers will tend to be dismissed and weird and go their way and not have much impact. But if something changes – when the environment changes in some way, or the system evolves, or there is some shock to the system – some environmental shock, economic shock, natural shock – then suddenly there is a need to do things differently, to be different, but you have suppressed the diversity you had, and you don’t have the differences available to you to adapt to what’s going on.
If you are valuing diversity and disturbance, you are moving into a realm where things are less predictable, and whatever order you have needs to come from how you are using diversity and disturbance rather than keeping everything the same. That’s a new approach. This is covered from a scientific perspective by chaos and complexity theories and ecology. They explain that diversity and disturbance are natural phenomenon, they are ever present, and we can suppress them but they don’t necessarily go away. They get pushed into a lower level that is not so obvious. Very often they will show up at unpredictable times in ways that further disturb the system.
So ultimately – if you can do it – it is more sustainable to respect and engage with and handle diversity and disturbance well – to “roll with the punches”, as they say.
If we are seeking wisdom, we have to engage diversity. And the diversity we’re talking about is not just demographic diversity. It is people having different perspectives, different information, different behaviors, etc.
And we don’t just try to suppress disturbances. Any kind of problem is a disturbance, disagreements are disturbances, and diversity often generates disturbance. Now, from a wise democracy perspective, if a system is generating diversity and disturbance, we take that as a signal that something is going on that should be attended to and addressed, rather than that we should suppress it. To give an obvious example, if you have a pain and the pain is persistent, you should take that as a signal to go to the doctor to find out what’s going on. Or if you know where it’s coming from, you should to do something about it, rather than just automatically taking painkillers. This pain is both a symptom and a signal. And if we really want things to be whole and smooth and beautiful and all the rest, we can take it as a stimulant to invest some attention and resources into finding out what is going on and addressing it. In particular, as wisdom seekers, it is a signal to go deeper because what “seems to be” is not always “what’s really going on”. So we’re going to do a deeper inquiry. We are going to explore what’s going on beneath the surface, beneath what we thought was going on. There may be dynamics happening in the real world or in people’s internal worlds that we were not aware of, that are generating this disturbance, and we need to bring them out – we need to make the unconscious dynamics conscious and start addressing them.
If we do that really well, more deep needs will be served, and our individual and collective lives will be better. To the extent we use diversity and disturbance creatively, we will be able to better navigate complexity and change. This is important because, after all, the real world is actually quite complex and always changing. To the extent we can take that in and deal with it well we are more able to navigate the “rapids of change” (as Robert Theobald said) and the complexity of life, the many different dimensions of what’s going. When we oversimplify, we miss big chunks of reality. So being able to get into the complexity that’s there, to not be overwhelmed by it, to address and be informed by it, and to become part of the complexity of reality, to become part of the changes that are happening, to flow with them instead of resisting or ignoring them. There is a lot of wisdom in that.