Urgent Evoke

A crash course in changing the world.

Are you ready to simplify the mission of taking good care of the world?

In elementary school, I remember a simple lesson we were taught about using the right tool for the right job. You know, using millimeters to measure tiny details of life, like seeds, using centimeters to measure small details of life, like flowers, using meters to measure big things of life, like trees, and using kilometers to measure really big things of life, like how long it is from where we are now to wherever we want to go on this planet.

And in the social innovation tips collection from our first mission, Amy Smith suggests:

Do the hard work needed to find a simple solution. As Leonardo da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”—and it is the key to this type of design work.

When we are precisely as simple and as sophisticated as we need to be with our tools (including the most important tool of our thinking!) we become as efficient and effective as we possibly can be given the situation. Which is precisely why understanding the following set of levels of simplicity~complexity is so powerful, as it gives us a way to start at the most general approach to social problem solving or to move down into a more detailed approach of human problem solving, depending on what's most appropriate for the situation.

The top level is the simplest, most broad way of thinking about solutions, akin to, perhaps, a light year in measuring terms.

The second level down is the next simplest way of thinking, more like measuring the world in kilometers.

The third level down is the more architectural scale of solving problems, similar to measuring life in meters.

The fourth level of detail is where things get practical, where people's solutions are broken down into specific, but still basic, elements like so many ancient cultures speak of the powers of the Earth, Water, Air, and Fire, and this level is where we humans spend most of our time looking at life, essentially using the centimeter to measure the things we encounter in our daily explorations.

The fifth level is how we start to look for solutions when there're any kinds of sickness or serious deficiencies going on, and this is the level that doctors, biologists, engineers, and other specialists measure things in real detail, like the millimeter option of rulers.

And the levels can keep going, for even more detail, as more clarity of understanding becomes valuable for looking at how to best take care of the world and all the individuals in it.

So, the next time you are looking to take care of the world, consider using the right tool for the job, based on what level of simplicity~complexity seems most appropriate for the problem. Is it simply more love, in general, that is needed to solve the problem? Or is it a more specific kind of love that's going to do it? Where do you think your thinking would be for the most simple solution?


This post is part of a collaborative series on Changing Mindset, with the goal of helping people understand how to think more skillfully.

Views: 56

Comment by Hayden Darrell Linder on March 27, 2010 at 1:01am
I'm confused. Which is good because that hardly ever happens. Can you give me some practical examples here Agent Turil?
Comment by Turil Cronburg on March 27, 2010 at 1:12am
It might be easier for me to use an example that you have in your life, since it will be more meaningful to you (and maybe actually help you solve a real problem). Can you give me some difficult situation that you care about, but haven't come up with an effective solution yet?
Comment by Catherine Gentry on March 29, 2010 at 1:16pm
Good. By going back to the basis of how energy works is key. Then we can build from there which is illustrated well in your post. In grappling with the two systems of energy (Western and Eastern), I found that water (emotions) had been denigrated since the beginning of patriarchy--as I wrote about in my post (Sophia Returns--World Water Day 2020)-- and that the wood element which exists in the Chinese system which I studied is absent in the Western System. This turned out to be "our work in the world." So, particularly in the West, I came to see the exclusion of Water and Wood as a loss of Wisdom and our important individual roles in the world.
Comment by Turil Cronburg on March 29, 2010 at 2:15pm
I'm thinking that wood (dead plant life) is perhaps a combination of the Western elements of air and earth, maybe with just a bit of fire (energy), because when plants are alive, they are, like us animals, a combination of all of the elements, including earth, water, air, and (more) fire.
Comment by Turil Cronburg on March 29, 2010 at 2:31pm
Also, Catherine, you might be interested to consider the idea that it seems that we humans perceive of these elements in different literal dimensions, in relation to our bodies. There is quite a bit of evidence that we perceive:

back~front as the physical/earth element
down~up as the emotional/water element
left~right as the intellectual/air element
interior~exterior as the spiritual/fire element (which explains why the seventh, crown, chakra is at the top of the head and sometimes even said to be outside the body, as a combination of both the height of emotions and spirituality)

You can experience these dimensions yourself as you think about different kinds of experiences and then check where your eyes are looking. These directions are almost universal, with nearly everyone looking distantly forward when thinking about future physical events, looking to the left and slightly inwards (backwards), when remembering factual information, looking down and internally (backwards) for past internal feelings, and looking up and to the right and forwards when creating new ideas about wonderful and amazing things in the future.
Comment by Catherine Gentry on March 29, 2010 at 2:38pm
Absolutely. This is exactly why I was so drawn to the ancient systems. They're very holistic and accessible. You can 'see' everything as an expression of these energies.
Comment by Ezra Ho on April 1, 2010 at 2:25pm
This article reminds me of the symbiotic concept that the planet and all the living things on Earth are really one organism. As Carl Sagan said, "A new consciousness is developing which recognises that an organism at war with itself is doomed. We are one planet."

By the way Turil, you might be interested in Buckminster Fuller's "Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth" in which he states:

"[We need to use] our general systems analysis of the problems of human survival, with the premise that at present neither the world's political officials nor its bankers know what wealth is. In organising our thoughts to discover and clarify what wealth is, we also will attempt to establish an effective means to develop immediate working procedures for solutions of such big problems."
Comment by Turil Cronburg on April 1, 2010 at 3:37pm
Yes, Esra, that's exactly what I'm talking about. :-) The system of the wh*** planet is self-similar at the smaller levels where we humans exist.

And I really look forward to spending more time with Bucky Fuller. I have only skimmed a tiny bit of his work directly, but I think he's kind of with me inherently, as most of the people I have learned from, learned from him.

I even spent a significant amount of time and energy creating a project to enter into the Buckminster Fuller Institute's Challenge a couple of years ago, but personal issues got in the way. I still am working quietly in the background of my life on that project, which I think is exactly what the world needs, and is exactly what Buckminster Fuller had in mind...
Comment by Turil Cronburg on April 1, 2010 at 3:38pm
Whoops! Sorry about mispelling your name Ezra! I'm kind of absent minded sometimes.
Comment by Ezra Ho on April 2, 2010 at 5:00am
Let me save you some time and quote some relevant passages from "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth":

"Synergy is the only word in our language that means behaviour of wh*** systems unpredicted by the separately observed behaviours of any of the system's separate parts or any subassembly of the system's parts.
Since synergy is the only word in our language meaning behavior of wh***s unpredicted by behavior of their parts, it is clear that society does not think there are behaviors of wh*** systems unpredicted by their separate parts.
In respect to our planet’s life sustaining atmosphere we find that, yes, we do have technically feasible ways of precipitating the fumes, and after this we say, "But it costs too much." There are also ways of desalinating sea water, and we say, "But it costs too much." This too narrow treatment of the problem never faces the inexorably-evolving and solution-insistent problem of what it will cost when we don’t have the air and water with which to survive.
Our labor world and all salaried workers, including school teachers and college professors, are now, at least subconsciously if not consciously, afraid that automation will take away their jobs. They are afraid they won’t be able to do what is called "earning a living," which is short for earning the right to live. This term implies that normally we are supposed to die prematurely and that it is abnormal to be able to earn a living. It is paradoxical that only the abnormal or exceptional are entitled to prosper. Yesterday the term even inferred that success was so very abnormal that only divinely ordained kings and nobles were entitled to eat fairly regularly.
It is easy to demonstrate to those who will take the time and the trouble to unbias their thoughts that automation swiftly can multiply the physical energy part of wealth much more rapidly and profusely than can man’s muscle and brain-reflexed-manually-controlled production.
Thus, production will no longer be impeded by humans trying to do what machines can do better. Contrariwise, omni-automated and inanimately powered production will unleash humanity’s unique capability-its metaphysical capability.
We have discovered that it is highly feasible for all the human passengers aboard Spaceship Earth to enjoy the wh*** ship without any individual interfering with another and without any individual being advantaged at the expense of another, provided that we are not so foolish as to burn up our ship and its operating equipment by powering our prime operations exclusively on atomic reactor generated energy.
We have learned of the superstitions and inferiority complexes built into all humanity through all of history’s yesterdays of slavish survival under conditions of abysmal illiteracy and ignorance wherein only the most ruthless, shrewd, and eventually brutish could sustain existence, and then for no more than a third of its known potential life span.
We must undertake to increase the performance per pound of the world’s resources until they provide all of humanity a high standard of living. We can no longer wait to see whose biased political system should prevail over the world.


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