Paddling canoes, responsibility and systems thinking

I was touched and excited by Robert Paterson’s post yesterday – In the Canoe Together. It’s a rich weaving together of a story of a humbling personal experience and insights from systems thinkers.

Among many gems, it contains this eloquent passage on the limits of mechanistic models

Most of us believe that the universe is like a predictable machine. We can plan for it and we can make it more efficient by crafting the parts to fit better. We apply this machine metaphor to all aspects of our life today. It is embedded in our educational system and into all our organizations both business and government. At the top of this machine metaphor stands man, separate from nature and in charge.

If we are honest with ourselves, we can see that these assumptions help us maintain the illusion that we are in control. Is not control one of our greatest needs? Are not so many of our assumptions rooted in our need to keep everything orderly? I think that most of us think that the

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