3 Poisons in the Water

Lessons From Retreat Series (1)

This is an idea that has formed gradually since meeting David Korten at the 2011 Berrett-Koehler author retreat and solidifying at this year’s. David described our fundamental error in problem solving. If you look into a stream and see fish dying you can jump in and introduce medication and temperature control and other measures. But what you should really do is walk upstream to see what is causing the problem. We don’t walk upstream enough.

This author group tends to talk big issues – world peace, slavery, genocide, global warming, economic meltdown, etc. So what’s upstream?

What are the biggest causes of the biggest problems we face?

I think there are three.

  1. Tragedy of the Commons. If people believe society will perish no matter what, then they will continue to act in self-destructive ways that give them short-term advantage.
  2. Population. Eventually there will be too many people for our planet to provide the necessary resources.
  3. Propaganda. We cannot address big challenges if large portions of the population are willfully deceived.

We have lots of problems, but until we address these three we are still operating too far downstream.


4 responses to “3 Poisons in the Water

  1. Noah,

    I came across your blog

  2. jeff.rohwer@ubs.com

    It seems to me that #3 is actually rooted in #1…

    Jeff Rohwer Wealth Management Transformation 201-352-4576 office 303-241-0506 cell


  3. Jeff,
    I agree in part. Propaganda contributes to the tragedy of the commons. Though there are some honestly informed who still subscribe the the tragedy view.

  4. Noah, I am reminded of the piece you wrote last year, We’ve Become a Nation of Haters. (I provide this to my class each semester) I see increased road rage, domestic abuse, etc. I will need to wear waders to make it upstream!

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