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Lorraine Filipek, Ph.D., Volume 2. Issue 3. September 16, 2013

Abstract: Why do we do what we do? How do we explain our presently polarized nation/world and our equally polarized selves? Can we get out of this mess? If so, how? The following is a set of stories based on concepts from complexity and systems theory that help answer those questions for me. I consider them in the vein of “practical application of systems thinking.” They trace the evolution of the intertwined system of culture and human consciousness that got us to where we are now. They are stories of the deep attractor basins within that system, ranging from the small but deeply ingrained habits at the individual level to the overarching habits of culture. But they are also stories of emergence out of those basins. And, to me, the stories reveal a path that can lead us beyond our present polarization–a path being trail blazed by a growing number of Systems Thinkers from all walks of life. The stories are constructed out of my understanding of complex adaptive systems, learning, habits, mourning, and emotional hardiness/ resilience. They come from a personal perspective, using my own journey and my interpretation of the works and journeys of a number of complexity and systems theorists, psychologists, cognitive scientists, philosophers, theologians, and many others. Each of these authors has taken a different path, but all appear to have emerged with a similar Systems Thinking perspective. It is a perspective that honors all perspectives, embraces those who “are not the enemy,” and listens to their stories for their kernel of truth.