Setting the Mood for Conflict Resolution

Volume 2, Issue 39

With Better Data and Analytics for World Class Solutions

Two posts ago for the first time in this blog’s history, I retracted an idea from the article within 24 hours of its posting. In a quick series of blunt emails a dear friend thoroughly convinced me that even raising the possibility of any form of debt cancellation is a terrible idea.

Why terrible? Because:

  1. Anything that could reduce even an iota of faith in the notion of the United States of America as the most stable country on Earth could panic people. This is not because people are rational, quite the opposite — it is because they are under the sway of Acceleritis, and are operating in mental shortcut Emergency Oversimplification Procedure (EOP).But a fact is a fact. Bad idea to bring up. Speak of debt conversion, debt service renegotiation, and especially get the top economists into a creative mood and talk about any other out-of-the- box ideas that they want. Just not the idea of debt cancellation.
  2. It plays right into the hands of the current severe polarization between those who hold it to be virtuous that the strong should always protect the weak (we call that the Left) and those who believe this but to a lesser degree, and are most focused on individual independence and freedom including the minimization of laws restricting individual decision making (we call that the Right). Nothing should be done to further exacerbate the hatred that has snuck up on us and suddenly become harsh and rigid on both sides. This is a far worse threat than the fiscal cliff, which is a temporary aberration and will be solved one way or the other so as to minimize suffering, although there will still be plenty of that. Legislators the world around will perform better in making the tough decisions ahead to put the economy of the world back on a firm sustainable footing, to the degree that they start in a creative mood and not in this mood of vendetta that appears to grip at least half of us, enough of us to bring everything to a grinding halt (aka gridlock).

On a world scale, if we cannot balance Severity (the Right) with Mercy (the Left) (these are called Geburah and Chesed in Kabbalah), in the very long run what are the possible scenarios? These two mammoth groups around the world could between them set off the first (and perhaps last) World Civil War. Not based on borders, the Blues everywhere would fight the Reds everywhere. Those in the middle would try to keep peace but that would just make it a three-way civil war once peacekeepers got killed en masse for the first time.

Hitler’s deranged mind wandered over these mental landscapes in somehow believing that killing off the Jews would make the planet work better. The hatred we hear and read today from both sides of the Left/Right debate conjures images of one side launching a war of extermination to wipe out those who think oppositely about the degree to which the strong should protect the weak.

On what basis is there a feeling that the strong should protect the weak? It comes from many sources: intuition, love, kindness, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, noblesse oblige, simpatico, pragmatism, my theory that we are all manifestations of the same single Being, all flavors of the same intuition or instinct for supporting others that we all naturally have except when a person is damaged emotionally during upbringing.

Conflict Resolution processes that worked in Northern Ireland could be imported into the US situation and mass media campaigns could be sponsored by top advertisers, with the Ad Council leading the way with a pro bono campaign.

Fact-based communications must be made to drive out the current meaningless level of babble that passes for debate. New parliamentary rules need to be instituted to eradicate time-wasting sneering language and j’accuse statements that do not move toward solutions with any creative new ideas in them. Every legislator should demand quantification on statements made. Here we are debating how to deal with $120 trillion in unpayable debt, and yet we cannot easily find even with the Internet, a coherent and definitive input-output table of the world economy from which an observer can run simulations, optimizations, do sensitivity testing, and otherwise move toward reducing the decisions that need to be made to mathematics, where optimization can prove exactly what has to be done in order to achieve whichever objective one sets.

For example, in my not-so-productive idea two weeks ago, I wasn’t talking about the US cancelling only its own debts and doing so unilaterally. I was talking about a UN-level group using factual data to brief each country’s negotiators to discuss and advance the common good.

For example, there are loops that could cancel out debt with no injury, such as where someone owes money to himself/herself. One of these loops is that 49% of the total US debt is owed to the Social Security Fund, Federal Reserve, or State and Local Governments. Not sure that these entities all consider themselves one US entity so perhaps these loops don’t change anything.

My point is that in marketing we have tons of data and in general are looking at it and can answer questions and make decisions with it. How could it be that in running the world we are under-using data? Yet it seems to be true. We have to fix this right away. We need to pool efforts to create an open architecture input-output economic model using agent-based modeling i.e. bottom-up not aggregate level. We need to be able to simulate, so there need to be transition probabilities from state to state for each agent, region, and country. All the historic data need to be poured into the model and harmonized. The optimizer must allow the setting of objectives in terms of the weight to give protecting the poor vs. protecting the strong, so that many optimizations with different settings can be run. Then the output actions determined by each optimization run can be fed into the simulator to see how the scenario plays out by time periods, whether an optimized scenario validates or not according to this gauge.

Who is going to do this?

Because the Human Effectiveness Institute’s Mission is to engender Observer and Flow states in as many people as possible everywhere as the most primal, direct and effective means to improve decisionmaking, we are going to continue to focus on this primary mission in this blog. Ideas about fixing the economy shall move out of this blog into the new sister site, The Democracy Channel, to launch here early in 2013. TDC will contain not just my ideas but the ideas of many people. The commentary will be edited to exclude negativity and partisanship as much as possible while letting through all verified factual content, new ideas, and solution suggestions, so that readers can also vote on other people’s solution ideas.

A friend of mine who passed along to me wisdom and moods he had acquired in India, pointed to the greedheads who were holding the world back. It was not consistent with his forgiving mood. He excluded the rich, including top politicians and largest corporations — some of you will recognize this as the 60s. Rachel Carson, Vance Packard, and others had shown some dark side and the present conspiracy theorist culture began to balloon outward into the hinterlands.

When I went into the advertising industry, my friend assumed I was going to try to cure the ills from the inside. That was part of it. The other part was that I was not looking for ills. So far, over the course of decades in the world of large corporations in 34 countries, including their C-level execs, I have yet to find any evidence of evil bad guys. As the sides have drawn apart, they have lost touch as people with one another, they avoid each other’s company, and so they are unable to feel the reassuring inner sensations of “this person is OK” one often gets after getting to know someone even a little. Everyone has reasons that have led them to their own personal convictions. Frontal confrontation with their convictions is obviously the least indicated communications strategy for conflict resolution. If you indulge in demonizing the other side, you are not only wasting time, you are chasing away the Flow state (Zone) which is not going to come over you while you are processing distracting negative emotions. You need to bootstrap yourself into the Observer state where you can edit out insulting catchphrases in discussing solutions with people from the other side of the aisle. Once operating consistently in the Observer state, in a conflict resolution mood of forgiveness, we can, together, bring us all back together again.

Best to all,

PS — "It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. 

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed. "
— Charles Darwin*

* Thank you Philip Romero for the Charles Darwin quote.

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