Suspending Judgement to Resist Polarisation


Suspending Judgement to Resist Polarisation. The 21st century is seeing a rise in political and social polarisation not seen in decades. It is fuelling all sorts of changes and dividing entire countries. It is a way of thinking that is hard to resist and seems to be super-rational. But it is unnatural and dangerous. And luckily, YOU can do something about it.

Either/Or thinking lies behind polarisation… the idea that if you don’t accept idea A, you MUST accept Idea B… there are no other options. When we accept this rationale, we quickly buy into an Us vs Them mentality, a friends versus enemies scenario.

This is not only dangerous but a complete misrepresentation of reality. Physicists have long since accepted that the natural world does not consist of neatly separated, siloed entities. Rather it is a somewhat messy interaction of a series of open-ended systems. This means it is in fact nearly impossible to decide where one system ends and another one begins.

Politically, what this means is that there are any number of answers, not just two and that it is important to maintain the blur because… because that is how people think and feel and indeed ARE!

This also happens to be the secret behind the great inventors and innovators of our age: they don’t accept simplifications and easy answers… they look harder, they embrace the uncertainty of complex answers, being wary of over-simplifying things for fear of missing important information.

Suspending Judgement to Resist Polarisation

If you leave room for a complexity of answers, you are immediately forced to think more… not form snap judgements, but to really THINK (slowly, as Daniel Kahneman would have it).

The binaries that fuel polarisation are short term, quick answers to complex issues we barely understand. By not admitting to the complexity of the situation, they create unsustainable attitudes and responses. The biological world is evidence that biodiversity is the key to survival. And yet polarised thinking would have us pursuing racial and social purity.

The advantage of resisting polarities is that we then step into an open-ended, ‘and/both’ reality, where MORE answers can be accommodated, giving us more dots of information and the possibility of making yet MORE connections and moving forward. Polarities on the other hand are like rules. They give you more of what you already have, they enforce stasis.

Whether you are talking politics or business. Polarisation is a force and a phenomenon to be avoided.

Double down on it by insisting on including ‘both’ or ‘and’ in your answers… and by resisting either/or wherever it surfaces.