Could Improved Communication and Understanding Help Us Resolve Problems in Our World?
We live in a world with immense and seemingly intractable problems, most notably warfare, poverty, corruption, oppression, disease, and environmental degradation. Each of these problems is either caused or made worse by people misunderstanding, fearing, and hating other people. There is a tremendous amount of unnecessary conflict and suffering in this world, and there is a common root cause for much of it, which is that we lack mutual understanding, agreement, and cooperation. For example, even if someone is working on a basic problem in the world such as the climate crises, poverty, or infectious disease then their work might grind to a halt because of fundamental problems in communication and understanding. The truth is that we are not doing enough to try to address this root cause. In order to make progress in any of the areas mentioned above, we need greatly improved understanding and communication and a way to break free of our tribal, nationalistic, and partisan instincts.
We recognize that people who have vastly different worldviews are often unable to understand each other. Such disparate groups also have seemingly incompatible ethical and moral frameworks and contrasting political ideologies. They appear unable to productively communicate because of the mental walls that divide them. The problems are made worse by weaponized news, deliberately false information and hyperpartisanship.
These trends could lead us towards more conflict and instability with a continued rise of nationalism and autocracy around the globe. In fact, unless we take a serious look at how we are thinking and communicating, the very idea of free and open societies will be at risk.
We all have an outer world in which we interact with each other and an inner world where our thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires originate. These worlds are often disconnected from each other. Other people don’t understand our thoughts and feelings, and we don’t understand them. But what if there is a way to bridge this divide? The key is to begin with an understanding of ourselves and how we come to know things. We need to better understand how science works. We need to be able to sort out fact from fiction because we are constantly being bombarded with information. Finally, we need innovations in communication. When we put this together, we will develop both inner awareness and societal understanding, which will help us avoid conflicts and work toward peaceful coexistence with people of different backgrounds in life.
We recognize that human beings have differences in thought and opinions on all sorts of matters, but we also recognize that empathy and reason are the keys to forming a constructive middle ground where there is less conflict and greater peace. A fundamental purpose of this project is to explore and write about this process. It appears at the outset that this is a relatively unexplored area of human thought – a frontier where the mind meets the social landscape – and we accept the challenge of working in that area.
We are developing educational materials to help bring about these goals. We are developing a book that is intended to be a manual to train adept sensemakers who can guide their community. We are also planning videos that will explain how do develop deep sensemaking of the inner and outer worlds and how they relate to each other. We are also planning a podcast series that will explain the processes and methods and we will test these methods out in real time. Overall, we hope to inspire people to improve their lives, their community, their nation, and their world.
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