My master’s thesis in Community Development was on the subject of systems theory, specifically human systems, after all, I was studying in the house of sociology. System theory incorporates the principle of entropy as taken from information theory (not the thermodynamics cousin), essentially characterizing systems as ‘open’ or ‘closed’ depending on the intake and generation of information (and please note this is an enormous simplification of an incredibly complex theory). In this system, I suggested that ‘open’ human systems in which information flows freely would be especially dynamic, whereas closed systems would be fairly static. The flaw in human perception is that open systems in which ideas and social change are rapid and unceasing would seem to suggest the community is going to hell in a handbasket, when in fact such change is indicative of a healthy community adapting to changes in the broader environment. ‘Closed’ systems, on the other hand, in which few new ideas are floated which do not facilitate the status quo, may be seen as positive due to the lack of stresses brought about by change, but are in fact running down and becoming irrelevant as they fail to adapt, grow, and evolve.
In a dynamic social environment, then, someone is always pissed off. Someone is always trying to change the world to a new paradigm and someone else is always digging their heals in because they like everything the way it is.
What bothers me is that at times in human history the differing paradigms that define human reality are so diametrically opposed that one side or the other resorts to great violence, followed shortly thereafter by the other side doing the same. Not just conflict; not just heated argument. War.
The political landscape of parts of the ‘open’ world are so polarized that opposing sides can’t even talk to each other; they couldn’t even agree on the color of the sky because they staunchly believe alternate facts. The situation is worsened by parts of the ‘closed’ world using misinformation to exacerbate polarizing values.
‘Art’, by its very nature, is part of an open, changing environment. Artists, by our very nature, seek to disrupt perspective. What is our role in preventing war? Or do we simply wander the streets of Sarajevo waiting for a wrong turn …
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.