The Chosen Few
Hitler is not dead. He has been renamed Intelligence. Fishermen and the tribal, the ecosystem people, are outliers to the mainstream society. The developing countries and the Slumdog Billions are outliers to the modern, industrialised, post industrial society. None of my success stories would pass an IQ test with flying colours nor would they be reckoned as success by the prevalent norms of success.
The Rosetto mystery challenges mainstream beliefs about health, points out Gladwell (The Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell, 2008, Penguin). It is the quality of community among the Roseto that contribute to their health. If so, why are we not focusing our attention on successful communities rather than individual successes? The latter need not necessarily take us to the former.
Success in history is equated with aggression. Asoka’s choice of ahimsa over aggression changed the course of history for India. After a very long interlude the country got into history through non- aggression in the struggle for political freedom under Gandhi.
Bill Joy, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, the ‘success stories’ of the current generation had many other things going in their favour in addition to above average IQ, advantages of an early start, practice, the time/location factor and opportunities. These are the typical American success stories and when we put them together we have what we call the grand dream that celebrates the success of the individual rather than quality of the community. What does it do to the collective human dream and the community at large? Has community been improving in sync with our other achievements?
Gladwell certainly debunks some of the popular myths. But the real myth is we attribute a few of the factors to conclude that we have a recipe for success. The investment bankers who took the global community for a ride would have scored very well on a conventional IQ test and many of them would qualify to be in the Mensa club. The notion of the chosen few, that some are more equal than the rest, that some are infallible, that some can save the world is the grand myth to be debunked. Every prophet is a product of the community in which he lived and to believe that another prophet or a set of prophets will save the world is the grand myth that we have come to believe in. The CEO of an MNC, faculty of an Ivy League College or the supervisor on the shop floor attempts to create and continually reinforce the notion that you are something very special which has become integral to the motivational tool kit. If you are something special, I am something more special and I need to be rewarded more by the community, seems to be the prevalent logic of being civilized. We have stretched the use of the tool way beyond sustainability.
The problem with metrics such as IQ is that they are blown out of proportion without regard to the limited context in which they remain valid. Most often we devise very complex filters to establish the superiority of a few to justify that they deserve very special consideration, to establish that they add much greater value than the rest. Abraham Maslow was said to be the second ‘most intelligent’ person in the world. He said “When the only tool you have is a hammer, it is tempting to treat everything as if it were a nail.” IQ is one of those hammers. IQ has evolved over time as in multiple intelligences, gender intelligence, and community intelligence and so on. Nature has given all of us the same potential but the context varies widely. The Infosys founders or others heading the IT industry in India were born a decade later. The lag of ten years is the price one pays for taking birth in a developing country, ceteris paribus, in a flatter world in our times.
Are the fishermen or the farmer potentially less intelligent than the investment banker? We would like to create such a make-believe which goes into the valuation of their contributions. The same logic works for what we are prepared to part with in the exchange of goods and services. The more myths we create around them we are able to squeeze more out of the market. This logic which has been stretched too far goes into the making of unreal goods and services, the bulk of the market and the value propositions behind them. The unreal has become more real than the real. There is no ‘connect’ between the head and the tail. During a recession these disconnects become too obvious. For some time, the tail wags the head and we come to believe in the shadow as the substance.
So is there some merit in the origin of castes – the four varnas- child labour and the craftsmens’guilds, the communities of practice?
When everybody is appropriately selfish and we celebrate it we don’t realise that this is at the cost of community and survival of the species, where we are stuck now. How much is too much? Has success need to be in terms of market cap? Would Keynes be interested in Robinson Crusoe, who does not produce or sell, though he leaves no ecological foot prints, the key to sustainability which is still not part of the metrics of our collective IQ or ‘growth’? Are we measuring growth or decay?
Your ideas are not your ideas
Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. – Kahlil Gibran
Our thoughts are not our own. We gathered them on the way, picked pockets, robbed people of what that they wanted to say, did not or could not. We could pick their minds.
Wright brothers took us flying and we have a DEBT TO PAY OFF in terms of IPR. They gave expression to a collective longing – Life’s longing for itself, our collective longing to take off, fly, and go out into space as expressed in our dreams. Most of us had dreams of flight when we were children. I still do. Last night I was travelling with Lizzie in our first car. We had a flat and then we were flying together to take a look at how bad the tyre was. The car went on and we kept on with it, flying.
If what we think is not our thinking but the universal mind thinking through us how do we OWN them, bottle them up, label them, and hire an agent to market them. Change Masters! Some say, change is the only constant and let us make a difference as if all change and all difference are in the right direction.
Changelessness too is a constant. (Values, thou shall not kill…). When we do not mean what we say, the intention is good but the effect is bad. More of the semantic swamp but appropriate to create “IPR and Knowledge Assets”. Those who walk and talk Kaizen, continuous improvement, surprise us, the ‘change masters’. We need to globally Find /Replace “change and difference” with IMPROVEMENT and walk the talk , paying attention to improvement, so that real improvements happen because what we pay attention to GROWS
The words we use reflect the internal software, the deep structure and we don’t communicate – connect, improve, when the intent and the words are not in alignment. We need a new language of performance and improvement. We have gone to the extent of monetising the value of an additional year of life and medical expenses make sense if the returns are more than the cost! We need something similar for books, other IP too, that adds to the semantic swamp and contributes to global warming that only if they lead to net improvements, they be published. Most often they are a rehash of what you already know at the core of your own being which is always connected to the mind of the universe. The rights if any should go to Nature – the source of all learning. Thanks to the web, by the above logic, this would never have been published.
Charity begets charity. “Guilt lubricates the economic engine and charity is the measure” – overheard.