David Bowie’s This is not America a song for the ages that appears particularly poignant at this time.
The numbers don’t lie – it’s so close to 50/50. You would be hard pressed to find a more impressive example of division in the world at this time and so representative of what we see in so many of our systems – politics, economics, race, climate, health….
Polarities facing us at every turn. And so evident in America right now. How could a country be split almost 50/50 across almost 150 million voters into two camps holding completely opposing views.
This is a polarity. Two sides – each one committed to their view and convinced of their world view and equally convinced of the wrongness of the other side – with a chasm of disconnect between the two.
So let’s refer to David Bowie for some words of wisdom: ‘A little piece of you will die. A little peace of me will die.’ What do we know to be true with polarities:
- It’s never the case that one view is completely correct and the other completely incorrect
- That both sides have something to contribute and something that they must give up or let go of
- That it can never be resolved from within the frame that gave rise to it
- That it is purely a sign, a symptom or a calling that a broader perspective is required in order to bring this blocked and troubled system back into flow
- That both sides must be prepared to sacrifice elements of their strongly held views (the ‘dying’)
- That both sides must be prepared to acknowledge elements of the opposing view
Resolving polarities in organisations (the classic ‘us’ and ‘them’) is just one aspect of systemic leadership.
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