See with new eyes
The following interactive practices help us to see the bigger context of our lives. They use our innate powers of imagination and empathy to shift perspectives from separation to connectivity.
Seeing with New / Old Eyes includes not only the practices described below, but also those of “Deep Time”, which make our connections with past and future generations alive.
The system game
This lively and engaging process provides a direct experience of the dynamic nature of open systems. Dramatizes two characteristics of the new paradigmatic view of reality:
1) that life is made up of both separate entities and the relationships between them;
2) these relationships allow life to organize itself.
Make people circle in an open space large enough for them to move around freely.
Then give two instructions.
1) "Mentally select two other people, without indicating who you chose."
2) "Move to maintain an equal distance between you and each of these two people." Demonstrate that this does not just mean staying at the midpoint between the other two.
At its signal, people begin to circulate, each movement triggering many others in an active and interdependent manner.
People feel that they are, by necessity, maintaining a wide-angle view and constant availability of answers.
The process is purposeful, full of suspense and laughter. It accelerates for a while, then it can slow down, speed up and slow down again towards balance, but it rarely reaches stasis.
Let it continue for a few minutes and ask people to stop and reflect together.
The simple question: "What did you experience?" It evokes fruitful discussions.
People's reflections usually bring to light some main characteristics of self-regulatory systems, such as the interdependence of all parties and their continuous activity in the search and maintenance of balance.
People can see that they thought the aim of the game was to achieve stasis; you can bring it up and challenge that assumption.
Self-regulation of open systems requires constant internal activity.
People can articulate the perceptual and psychological changes they have experienced in the game.
This can include a radically expanded sense of context and a greater and more porous sense of identity.
A temporary eclipse of self-awareness can be observed, as perceptions focus more on the actions of others than on their own - that is, not on the separate entities, but on the relationships between them.
“Is it a closed or open system?”, You may ask.
If people think that it is a closed system, because no one entered the outside, you can point out that the energy from the sun feeds everyone present.
We wouldn't last long without food or drink from outside the system we just created. Individually and collectively, we are open systems dependent on inputs of energy and information.
Closed systems do not exist in nature.
"What feedback has allowed us to fulfill our role (which is to remain equidistant from two other people)?"
If there is no answer, you can ask, "Could we have done this with our eyes closed?" perceptions, but comments of all kinds guide us in our daily lives.
"Would anyone offer to organize this process?" It is obvious that no party or external person could direct the necessary movements to keep this system in balance.
Ecosystem in danger. Ask everyone to repeat the process, but this time tell them that you will pass them and secretly pat a person on the shoulder.
After silently counting to five, that person sinks to the floor or crouches. So anyone who chooses to move in relation to that person also silently counts to five and sinks; and then those whose movements have been affected will follow suit, until the entire group is inoperative.
After starting slowly, the progression starts to accelerate and ends in a ripple effect that is both worrying and instructive.
If after you touch someone and he falls, nothing else happens, you realize that no one else has chosen that person - then you touch someone else.
Innovation Social. As a continuation of the “Threatened Ecosystem”, the entire group begins to crouch. Scroll and secretly touch someone; that person silently counts to five and then goes up, and so on.
The above process now proceeds in reverse, illustrating the accelerating effect of new ideas or behaviors spread across a social system.
Restrictions social. As a continuation of the original game and maintaining the same relationships, immobilize two or more players and proceed.
In the following discussion, people can reflect on the reduced fluidity they felt in the group as a whole or on their own experience, if one of their partners did not move.
The decrease in responsiveness is often experienced as a dysfunction in the system, and comments on this fact can bring new ideas.
Large-scale exercise. A variation used by Mark Horowitz involves a group of 75 or more. Here, about 20 volunteers play the game with the rest as an audience. This works best when the audience sits around a central area where the game is played.
The guide takes volunteer players aside to give instructions. Meanwhile, the public is instructed to watch the action and try to find out what is going on.
If seats allow, audience members can move around to observe from different angles. Then the game begins, while the audience watches in amazement.
After a few minutes, the guide asks four or five members of the audience to act as consultants to that "organization". Their task is to align the players in order of height. This will be impossible, because the players are not standing still.
After a few more minutes, the players are given a signal to stop in place and the guide asks the audience what they observed and what they thought was happening. The explanations offered are often creative, even hilarious.
Consultants are asked to report their experience (probably frustrating), thus illustrating the absurdity of trying to intervene in a system (human or other) without first learning what the system is doing and what its "rules" are.
Finally, unless someone in the audience finds out what was going on, players explain the rules of the game, in addition to sharing their experience and what they learned in the process.
The Enigma of the Commons - Game
The "tragedy of the commons", first named by Garrett Hardin, occurs when a community consumes a common resource too quickly for regeneration to occur.
In such situations, people must choose between restricting their own consumption for the good of the community or continuing to consume at a rate that satisfies their immediate “self-interest”, with dire consequences later.
This game incorporates the problem of the “Tragedy of the Commons”.
By the established rules, it helps people to explore the challenge of maintaining a dynamic balance between personal and collective interest.
Each is necessary for the common good.
A group of three or more players sits around a shallow, unbreakable bowl (about 30 cm in diameter) that initially contains 10 nuts or something (the 2.5 cm diameter is a good size).
An extra person, the “reinforcer”, sits with each group, with a separate container of nuts nearby.
The guide explains the following:
The goal of each player is to get as many nuts as possible.
Players can pick nuts from the bowl at any time and in quantities after the game starts.
After each 10-second interval (signaled by a bell or similar), the booster doubles the number of nuts remaining in the bowl. The number of nuts allowed in the bowl during the game is limited to 10.
This game ends if the bowl is empty or continues until a predetermined time, say five minutes.
Players must not communicate during the game itself.
The bowl symbolizes a set of resources (like an ocean of whales); the nuts, the resources themselves; and replenishment cycles, natural resource regeneration rates.
After the first round of the game, allow groups to have five minutes to invent their own rules to increase their harvests in a second game.
Groups usually have two main types of solutions:
(a) those involving numbers (such as an agreement to take only one or two nuts per person every 10 seconds; this type of solution is very effective in preserving the pool)
(b) non-numerical solutions. In one example of this, a group
po decided to use a rather complicated harvesting system. Each player had to pin each nut in the bowl with a pencil, put it on their nose, walk to a nearby blackboard and deposit the nut on the tray before returning to another nut.
The harvest was thus slowed down enough to prevent the pool from running out, increasing individual scores and making the game more fun for players.
The Four Voices
Activists want to be able to express their views on an issue in a clear and even passionate way.
At the same time, for their own understanding and skill, they want to see different and opposite perspectives on this issue.
This exercise helps us to do both. And in the process, it loosens self-righteousness and opens the mind to progressively larger contexts and to increasingly larger circles of identity.
People sit in groups of three or four. Ask each of them to choose a specific question or situation that concerns them.
After a minute of silence, invite them to take turns talking about the problem. Each person will speak on the subject from four perspectives, while others in the group will listen.
(1) from your own point of view, including your feelings about it;
(2) from the perspective of a person who has opposite opinions on this subject, introducing himself and speaking like that person, using the pronoun "I";
(3) from the point of view of a non-human being who is affected by that specific situation;
(4) and, finally, in the voice of a human future whose life is affected by the choices made now on this subject.
After describing these four perspectives from the beginning, the guide provides tips for each perspective as each speaker turns around, reminding them to always speak in the first person.
Allow two to three minutes for each prospect, perhaps a little longer for the first. People find it useful and pleasant to get up and turn around before moving on to the next voice.
Speaking on behalf of another and identifying, albeit briefly, with the experience and perspective of that being, is an act of moral imagination.
It is not difficult to do: as children, we knew how to “play”.
Use an almost charged, almost casual tone in your instructions; you are not asking people to channel or be omniscient, but simply imagine another point of view.
Allow a silence while they choose who they will talk to and, imaginatively, enter into the other's experience, so that they can respect you and not make a caricature of it.
It is a courageous and generous act to make space in your mind for someone else's experience and to lend your voice; that participants appreciate this generosity in themselves and in the other.
Set aside time at the end for people to share in their small groups what they felt and learned.
Translated from the siteWorkThatReconnects