Systems Thinking for SocietiesEncounters with the "Other"
with a 'catalogue of catastrophes' starting with the ethnic cleansing
of the Rohingya of Myanmar, back through the Holdomor and the Holocaust
to the Armenian genocide.
This is a reminder, if any were needed,
that contemporary societies have not lost their taste for identifying
and labelling the 'others' in their midst and slaughtering them. Indeed
populist governments positively rely on the cohesion that can be found
in bringing a group of people together in the face of an external
In Encounters with the "Other"
Barry Oshry uses
the lenses of 'loose and tight', liberal and conservative', 'pure and
conflicted', 'tolerance and purity' to highlight the range of reflexive
responses we can have to 'others in our midst' especially when we are
under the stress of poverty, lack of housing or shortage of jobs.
then shows how these responses can be characterised as seeing through
Power or Love (seeing in terms of our differences from the other or in
terms of what we have in common with the other).
suggests how the intolerant 'Power cycle' can be interrupted and
tempered by the more inclusive 'Love cycle' to prevent further
catastrophes. Can we believe it? Are we willing to test it?
Read the book in an hour. Transform your understanding of societies for ever.
About the book
Barry Oshry has a lifetime’s experience of working with social and organizational systems.
he explains how we can understand – and avoid – the “catastrophes” that
continue to occur when one culture meets another – when demagogues sell
us messages of superiority or purity in the face of cultural
Algeria ~ Armenia ~ Bosnia ~ Cambodia ~ Congo ~
Darfur ~ East Timor ~ The Holdomor ~ The Holocaust ~ Myanmar ~
Palestine ~ Rwanda...
He explains how the two conventional
solutions to encountering the “other” – Purity and Tolerance – both
exact a terrible cost on the oppressed while diminishing the humanity of
And he offers us a third possibility, one that
requires a fundamental transformation in how we see and experience one
another. This transformation requires us to understand that the
interaction patterns we fall into shape the way we see and experience
one another. Change the pattern of interaction and our experiences of
one another will change...
The possibility of “Power and Love”, working together and tempering one another, will emerge.