Critical connections

Grace Lee Boggs often cites Magaret Wheatley‘s writings. Lately she has been referring a lot to the quote below, where Wheatley draws comparisons between Newtonian science and quantum physics as they relate to organizing. This is a different kind of approach to thinking about the impacts of our every action in our daily lives. It helps give me more hope and resolve to continue on.

In a web, the potential impact of local actions bears no relationship to their size. When we choose to act locally, we may be wanting to influence the entire system…From a Newtonian perspective, our efforts often seem too small, and we doubt that our actions will make a difference. Or perhaps we hope that our small efforts will contribute incrementally to large-scale change…

But a quantum view explains the success of small efforts quite differently. Acting locally allows us to be inside the movement and flow of the system, participating in all those complex events occurring simultaneously. We are more likely to be sensitive to the dynamics of this system, and thus more effective. However, changes in small places also affect the global system, not through incrementalism, but because every small system participates in an unbroken wholeness. Activities in one part of the whole create effects that appear in distant places. Because of these unseen connections, there is potential value in working anywhere in the system. We never know how our small activites will affect others through the invisible fabric of our connectedness. I have learned that in this exquisitely connected world, it’s never a question of “critical mass.” It’s always about “critical connections.”

Wheatley is an organizational consultant, who has some pretty interesting writings posted on her website. I’m still reading and reflecting upon her work, but so far I appreciate the connections that she draws upon various disciplines and bodies of thought.

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  1. 1 Radical Women of Color Bloggers « wsoft.heart

    […] To draw from some readings I’ve been doing on Margaret Wheatley, this online community is more than just creating a critical mass of radical voices in the blogosphere. I think that the revolutionary aspect of this is the critical connections we are creating with each other, and the Radical WoC Bloggers is giving us a medium to strengthen and broaden these connections. […]




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