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Embodiment of Change: Comprehension, Traction and Impact? (Part #2)

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Perhaps the most fundamental question is why so many well-intentioned initiatives can only be said to have been less than successful in terms of the challenges experienced now as well as those to be anticipated (if only in that their nature cannot necessarily be foreseen). There is a need to learn from the seeming inadequacy of the collective learning process, as suggested by Donald Michael (Learning to Plan and Planning to Learn, 1997). What might be required by such collective "meta-learning" -- especially in a group context in which so many acclaimed approaches to dialogue facilitation have proven problematic in their own right?

A particular concern is the appropriateness of assumptions made about "change" and how "traction" is to be achieved -- especially when there is a tendency to use conventional marketing and military metaphors in the quest for widespread "impact" and "visibility" as being the criterion of success. What undermines the capacity of a self-selected group to elucidate and deliver meaning appreciable by others? From what does the indifference of others derive? Why do they variously engage with other preoccupations?

The relatively new term "psychic numbing" is used to describe the tendency of people (potentially as voters) to feel less urgent compassion and contribute less, when the suffering is shown to be more systemic and more pervasive, especially when described as affecting larger numbers of people. The observer experiences a sense of powerlessness and helplessness -- a sense that nothing in the world will change that particularly broad, complex situation (Paul Slovic, "If I look at the mass I will never act": Psychic numbing and genocide, Judgment and Decision Making, 2007; J. E. Roberston, 'Psychic Numbing': Why does mass suffering induce mass indifference?, 15 August 2010). This is consistent with the distinction between problem assessment and assessment of remedial capacity (Remedial Capacity Indicators Versus Performance Indicators, 1981).

Several factors are implicit in the questions raised by the documents listed below:

The challenge has been well framed by Albert Einstein:

The significant problems we face can not be solved at the same level of thinking
we were at when we created them.

To repeat the same thing over and over again,
and yet to expect a different result, this is a form of insanity.

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