A bondage to systems
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A bondage to systems

According to theoretical physics, the Universe is an Isolated system. Meaning that this system does not exchange anything with its surroundings. This theory will only be proved otherwise if the concept of multiverse gets presented with substantial evidence. The theoretical physicists of the world are right now exploring the possibilities of a multiverse. If the idea of a multiverse gathers enough momentum then we may have to imagine the universe in a very different manner. While this is not exactly the system that I would like to explore right now, I feel it is important to acknowledge the system of the systems – The Universe.

Let us skip the sub system the Galaxies and come to the Solar System. The name itself contains the word “system” in it. This system has a design and everything inside this system follows a certain set of rules with a tremendous sense of obedience. Our planet Earth as a member of this system is relentlessly performing its functions and following the rules laid out by the solar system.

It is when we look at the details inside the Earth that one can see these rules being broken at various levels and with different intensities. The pattern of natural activities inside our planet have always been unpredictable to a great extent. The climate has always been changing at its own rate and the behaviour of the living beings in the planet is also extremely unpredictable and it is almost close to impossible to grasp the order in it. However at a macro level they do appear like a system with various degrees of freedom within them like an ecosystem.

It appears as if the Earth was kind enough to not impose too many rules on its constituent entities and it allowed them to have a certain degree of freedom within the system. If one looks at one of the most accepted theories of origin of life, life seems to have emerged out of this very character of our planet Earth. This theory suggests that Life might have originated because of a series of accidents that took place within the system. And accidents do not occur when every entity is abiding by a set of rules. Which means that something did not follow the rule at that point and that led to an accident. If one assumes that this is a strong possibility then it leads us to a few interesting questions which are as follows:

  • Is creation (creativity) the result of a deviation from the system?
  • Are the very fundamentals of life based on a breach of the rules laid out by the universe?
  • Was life a result of Earth’s kindness (compassion/love)for its constituents, which allowed them to not stand by the rules laid by the Universe?
  • Is living matter different from the nonliving based on its ability to deviate from the rules?

While seeking answers to these questions do not look like a welcoming task, one can take the liberty to apply the same questions towards understanding the systems that we as humans are bound to. What I am pointing towards are the social systems such as Family, Religion, Profession, Economic system, Education system etc. And they could appear like some of the following questions.

  • In a social system (say education system), does creativity come from a place of fearlessness towards the system and its rules?
  • In a relationship, is it an act of kindness, compassion and love to allow people to not to stand by the rules laid out by society?
  • If the fundamentals of life are based on the breach of the rules of the universe, would it make more sense if we had a healthy distance from these systems to keep ourselves more alive?
  • A distance that will prevent the heavy influence of the society in the form of its rules which determine the minutest details of our behaviour.
  • Does that mean that with greater sense of freedom there will be a greater sense of being alive?
  • Do we see a need to entertain a certain degree of freedom for ourselves within the system that we are a part of?

Let us explore some of these questions a little further. Is creativity coming from a place of irreverence to the system and its rules? From what one has seen as creativity, it surely seems to come from a place of fearlessness. Galileo’s version of the solar system came from a total rejection of the version that existed before that. New music compositions are in a way a breach of a rule in the system that already exists. Invention of zero came from a rejection of a previously existing number system. It looks like creativity is about having new ideas that challenge the existing ones. So it would be safe to say that anything that is creative will offer a challenge to the existing system and over time it becomes part of the system and the cycle will only continue with newer challenges. It also suggests that

“though creativity is comprehended through some form of articulation, it does not mean that its presence is validated only by a sensory experience. “

In a relationship, is it an act of kindness, compassion and love to allow people to not to stand by the rules laid out by society?

Creativity is a form of rebellion. If a system wants to nurture creativity, it has to allow for a rebellion to exist within itself. To allow rebellion means to allow people to not to be restricted by laws. This does not mean a total disregard to the laws but to have a certain kind of softness and awareness about its capacity to restrict creativity. Rules or laws by themselves are not restrictive. They become restrictive in relationship with our mind. It is an attitude towards them that determines their capacity to smother creativity. Therefore a greater degree of freedom in the mind (attitude) might facilitate a lively climate for life, creation and creativity.

Let us take the example of today’s education system. Let us enlist the claims made by this system:

  • The current education system is the most important and effective means of acquiring knowledge and learning about the real world.
  • Everyone in this system will be evaluated against a uniform set of standards.
  • And anyone who does not meet these standards is called a failure.
  • It is the most assured way of becoming a part of the prevailing economic system. An economic system based on competition and a system that values productivity.

These claims in a way act as a source or the starting assumption for the subsequent rules that the system establishes to administer education. The rules over time have become extremely universal, generic and simplistic. This creates great opportunities for these bodies or councils who become these power centers that control, validate and evaluate other institutions and individuals based on their adherence to the rules prescribed.

This has created a system in which there is a danger of students becoming heavily dependent on external validation. If the objective of the system is to induce confidence then it needs to find ways of reducing its reliance on external validation. However the validating bodies only grow bigger and stronger as the student moves from one grade to another in the current system.

Very often, the options available are only two and they are to conform or to be indifferent. The system seems incompatible with rebellion, criticism or a dialogue.

If the attitude towards the above mentioned claims is an attitude of conformity then the outcome is very different from the attitude that allows a degree of freedom to question these claims. There are educational institutions on both sides of this spectrum and the members of the institution collectively determine their attitude towards the system. The process of determining our attitude towards the system plays a critical role in determining the culture of any institution. A culture that can accomodate rebellion, criticism and dialogue is more likely to prevail in an institution that is non conforming towards the laws laid out by the system. This kind of culture may also be better at inducing confidence in the students.

And a culture that does not allow rebellion, dialogue and critical thinking to exist would be more reliant on external validation and may not be great as an atmosphere for nurturing creativity and confidence.

Educational societies today have the choice to have an environment that enables creativity and offer challenges to the claims that are mentioned above or accept the laws and claims as an authority and move towards greater productivity and act as a fuel to the existing and the most prevalent economic system with all its shortcomings. It does appear sometimes that the economic system is gaining a greater control over educational societies around the world and education is becoming a business. Once education gets converted into a business model the laws of economics will start governing the way education is administered and becomes extremely intolerant towards qualities that may affect the commerce of the system. In such an environment creativity becomes restricted. Questioning is entertained within a boundary. A boundary beyond which it would probably threaten the brand value i.e the economic position of an educational institution.

Therefore in any society the choices ultimately seem like the choice based on our “Bondage” to the system. The kind of relationship that we have with the systems we are a part of. One way of relating to the system is through patronising the system and thinking that it is something that cannot be questioned and it is bigger than us and one needs to consider it as an authority. The other is to look at the system as an equal and to be more critically engaging with it. In such a relationship cooperation may replace conformity.