What’s the Problem?

“Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them.”

— Laurence J. Peter, Canadian educator (1919 – 1990)


South Africa, like almost every country on the planet, has its fair share of challenges. Our social, cultural and ecological issues are difficult to adequately describe and inherently impossible to solve. Education, financial crises, health care, hunger, income disparity, obesity, poverty, unemployment, and environmental degradation are the obvious. There are many more and there are a large number of groups working on these challenges.

The problem, as we see it, is the underlying system which creates every one of these symptoms. The function — the very serious function of symptoms — is distraction. Symptoms keep us from doing our work. And our work is to fix and/or transcend the entire operating system of our society.

That, as you can imagine, is a non-trivial task. Particularly when you consider that our current operating system is designed for a world of scarcity and competition. At the same time, a world of abundance and collaboration is emerging.

The Vision

With that complexity as background, we imagine a South Africa in 2030 that has successfully migrated away from outdated social systems.

This grand vision sounds impossibly complex, but only because we haven’t taken Collective Intelligence into account. As a nation, we have never before been able to tap into Collective Intelligence. There are natural forces that challenge collective intelligence, forces that doom projects and make collaboration difficult or impossible.

These are the forces of fragmentation.

Fragmentation occurs because our beautifully diverse nation has parties that are all convinced that their version of the problem is correct. Their solution — they believe — is the only way forward.

The antidote to fragmentation is shared outcomes, shared understanding and shared commitment. We will come back to these shared outcomes in a minute.

South Africa’s Heritage

Africa has a 500 year history of exploitation — from her people during the days of slavery and more recently her resources. Our continent’s strategic location and resources are the prize, the African people are the victims and multinational corporations driven by excessive greed are the culprits.

In the 2020s we are witnessing a resurgence of this exploitation — this time under the guise of climate change. In our already fragile economic circumstance, we are being forced to pay an additional R163 billion in taxes (of various forms) every year. This payment is to rectify carbon emissions mainly caused by the North.

[To be continued…]