Nonviolence as a Key to Relating with Systems – The Satyagraha of Cybernetics

Everything is a system, larger systems are made up of smaller systems, people are systems, the daycare where I work is a system, and the small children running around are systems as well. And the really wonderful thing about living systems is how much they can reveal themselves to be increasingly complex, and increasingly understandable. A system which initially appears to be a black box system when studied without sufficient methodata, can in fact unfurl like a flower in spring when approached with the appropriate methodata.

Methodata – the combination of data relevant to a particular field of study and the method with which that field of study is interacted with. I made it up, I think.

Satyagraha – the force of truth. Coined by Ghandi.

A nonviolent approach to a system entails obtaining the optimum amount of data regarding that system. That data is then used to inform how best to approach that system in a way which preserves and/or facilitates the optimal functionality of that system.

So for example, let’s say I have a child who appears impenetrable. They are withdrawn, they are not very expressive. They appear to be a black box system – I know stuff is going on in there, but I can’t see it. 

Nonviolent methodata in this instance would entail: observing the child, gathering information from the child’s primary caregivers (what are their special interests and past traumas), studying child psychology (often children who have experienced emotional distance from their primary caregiver will exhibit withdrawn behaviour), and using the information obtained to cultivate an (a) environment and (b) approach which achieves a balanced gentle:stimulating:challenging ratio while interacting with the child (the appropriately balanced ratio will be unique to each child).

Nonviolent methodata is always underscored by the nonviolent trajectory – an arc of intent and behaviour which consistently bends towards preserving and facilitating the optimal functionality of systems.

So, returning to our example, I might learn that the child in question loves Peppa Pig, is afraid of the dark and enjoys playing with legos. From my research into child psychology, I might infer that they have experienced a significant degree of proximal abandonment from a primary caregiver. I would then ensure the space is warmly lit and that legos are accessible, before inviting the child to play with legos together and begin the interaction with a conversation about Peppa Pig. Underscoring this is kindness, a non-insistent invitation to eye contact, humour and a genuine intent to facilitate the child’s optimal development.

And that is so important – at the end of the day, one can philosophise and contemplate about systems all they like. But without the genuine, perspicacious and strong intent to see systems function optimally, the artillery is incomplete. And that genuine, perspicacious and strong intent to facilitate the optimal functionality of systems is satyagraha – the force of truth. That is the underscoring trajectory along which our actions must curve if they are to ultimately succeed.

As the stoics would say, all one can do is aim their arrow straight and true. If the child remains unreceptive, that is not within our control. And few things would be as insulting to the emerging selfhood of a person as to attempt to control their responses. What is within our control is our intention, and to a lesser degree, our behaviour.

We may provide for the children in our care with focused generosity. Being given an appropriately nurturing, complimentary environment including a variety of tools with which to express oneself, and conscientious interaction with informed and perspicacious people who genuinely care, provides children with the optimum foundation from which unfurl like a flower in spring.

Published by i5htar

playful dreamer

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