“The real lesson is that under conditions of true complexity - where the knowledge required exceeds that of any individual and unpredictability reigns - efforts to dictate every step from the centre will fail. People need room to act and adapt. Yet they cannot succeed as isolated individuals, either - that is anarchy. Instead, they require a seemingly contradictory mix of freedom and expectation - expectation to coordinate, for example, and also to measure progress toward common goals,” writes Atul Gawande in his book The Checklist Manifesto. He illustrates this on examples of building high rises and on hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
The book has been sitting on my shelf for several years, since my daughter left it there. I do not know why my hand reached for it a couple of weeks ago. Why am I reading this book, I was wondering? Until I read the chapter about the hurricane. Then it all clicked:
We are living a complex situation just now. A global one. Our knowledge base about the virus multiplies every day. No one has a ready made solution or a framework they could implement. There is no one who would have all the expertise and information to come up with an effective plan with guaranteed results.
There is a lot of disruption, forced change, loss and grief. And we also want this time to be the time for growth. We have seen mutual aid groups grow, we see other supporting activities spring up, a lot of creativity online.
Right now, every voice needs to be heard. As the Deep Democracy Forum, we want to continue creating space for that, getting people talking, building connections and supporting each other's ideas. That is our way of building back better.
Many things started because people started chatting over a coffee or randomly on a train. We all are parts of networks and we are contributing to many projects and activities - and we might not even realize it.
We want to see what can happen when people start talking to each other and sharing dreams for the future after the pandemic. Which seeds will take on. Now there is space for grass to take roots. Can you hear it growing?
And just to remind ourselves - we are not the only ones doing this. People all over the world are responding to current changes and challenges, getting together and sharing their experiences and dreams. In the olden days, people gathered around a fire. Now, we come together on zoom. Coming together is the first step. The next one will follow from there. No one has a map. It is a path made by walking.