I have been reading and watching various media and a theme is starting to emerge of late which I want to share with you.
It is about the strength of the group.
Here are some examples which I have come across recently:
- The film ‘Defiance’, which was broadcast yesterday evening in the UK, told a harrowing quasi-biographical tale of Jewish partisans in Eastern Europe during the Second World War. At a number of points the leader realises that they will only live if they establish a strong sense of group identity.
- Reading about science education currently there are many references to the importance for their learning of a group of students working collectively on a specific (often practical) problem, rather than individuals trying to go it alone within or outside the group.
- The new group ‘Headteachers’ Roundtable’ is trying to bring together heads in England to create a politically independent voice from school leaders in response to key education reforms.
- Richard Branson and Jochen Zeitz are leading the B Team in a new way of ‘groupthink’ for global business with a focus on social inclusion.
I am sure there are many other examples.
So why do we promote the individual so much in Western society and why are more traditional societies, which value the group, trying to imitate us?
The answer I think lies in the failed Maoist doctrine: “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.”
Here was a mistaken belief that only by allowing individuals to express a plethora of different views will positive change really happen in a system. This is a simplistic version of evolution, which is in fact much more synergistic, as we know from the study of ecology. Otherwise anarchy prevails.
Can we change the way we are headed?
I do very much hope so.