Opposing viewpoints

When we adopt opposing viewpoints, we don't see a connection between them. Our field of vision only sees a select number of the connections in the situation. We're threatened by the connections we don't see and any viewpoint that calls them to our attention. In this diagram, I show the typical pattern of opposing viewpoints.

Any typically persistent viewpoint sees a problem. There are obvious connections to actions which address the problem in some way. There are connections to the results of those actions. The results usually confirm the persistent viewpoint. The results look like accomplishments, progress, solutions, benefits, improvements or payoffs.

Any alarmist viewpoint sees the same problem and the connections to the actions taken which address the problem. However this viewpoint sees obvious connections to reactions from taking those actions. These reactions confirm the alarmist viewpoint. The reactions look like unintended consequences, crises in the making, penalties, hidden costs, or long term damage.

The persistent viewpoint does not see the connection between actions and reactions. The alarmist viewpoint does not see the connection between actions and results. Neither viewpoint sees the connections between their opposing viewpoints or the big picture we're seeing by looking down on all this from a higher level.

The opposing viewpoints are hard wired together in a vicious cycle. Each struggles to be right in a way that makes the other wrong. Both have adopted positional stances with their self-confirming evidence. Each is indulging in single-loop learning that goes with what each already knows to do without question. Both are on the same level as the problem where there is no sustainable solution to be found.

We see this problem play out in many ways. There are whistle blowers who see the consequences of corporate greed, corruption and deceit. There are watchdogs to sound the alarm about over-medicating, over-consuming, over-harvesting or over-populating. There are ecologists who foresee the long term consequences of resource depletion, toxic discharges, hazardous dump sites and loss of diversity. There are psychologists who see the impacts of domination, coercion and controls on individual self confidence, self motivation and self expression. The list goes on.

The solutions can be found at the level of the diagram. They occur to the viewpoint that sees ALL the connections . They avoid falling into the trap of opposing any viewpoint which doesn't know what it's missing. It allows for every viewpoint to be partially right and halfway down the path to a sustainable solution.

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