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Efiong Etuk

Founding Director, Global Creativity Network

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The threats to civilization are too daunting for humanity to continue to hold onto obsolete self-perceptions that no longer serve us well

Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the dreadful situation the world is facing is not because the modern crises are impossible to solve; but because we have not yet developed, or found, appropriate conceptual framework for understanding and for tackling them. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, also, the modern crises are not “economic crisis,” “social crisis,” “political crisis,” or “environmental crisis,” per se. They are not separate crises, either. As such, they are not likely going to be resolved within the framework of the prevailing understandings.

A body of data no one thought and no one knew existed identifies the modern crises as, fundamentally, a “creativity crisis.” This is the inability of the vast majority of people to develop and to engage their natural abilities in significant and beneficial social and ecological actions and, resultantly, the global and spreading epidemic of meaninglessness of which most psychological, social, economic, political, and environmental crises are the symptoms or facets. Close examination of the data also challenge widely accepted beliefs that humans are inherently self-interested, competitive, adversarial, materialistic, and consumption-driven. Analysis of the data further suggests that many of the difficulties the world has been experiencing might be rooted in inadequate and misleading concepts we have created about ourselves and the institutional framework and operational relationships that have been erected on those concepts.

To the extent that this conclusion is valid, the best hope of resolving the modern crises is, first, to correct the misleading views we hold about ourselves and, second, to conform our economic, social, and political decisions and actions to our authentic nature as humans.

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    Oct 24 2013: Thanks, Craig: I think we are very much on the same page, when it comes to the interface of (cultural) values and technology. In my opinion, if there is just one measure of the "omnipotence" of dreams (your term), customs, and values, it is the rate of adoption of technology.

    A case in point is the growing popularity of small-scale ("appropriate") production technology in many Third World Countries and, of course, widespread "rejection" (failure) of large-scale production machines. Contrary to assertions by some management experts, the casualty of large-scale production technology in many Third Countries is not so much due to lack of managerial capacity or infrastructure. It is,primarily, because these methods of production tend to violate (or are perceived to violate) what is really important to their "target" beneficiaries -- their family ties, their (often) mythical attachment to the land, their sense of place and community, their customs and ethnic affiliations, their sense of sacredness or reverence for certain features of the natural environment, etc.

    To answer your question specifically, with graduate under- and un-employment figures as high as 70 percent (estimated) in some Third World Countries, few people (policy makers, as well as the general population) are seriously talking about large-scale technology as the solution. So, in effect, economic and cultural necessity are vindicating Gandhi's theory of "production by the masses" and Schumachers "Technology with a human face." Specific examples are far too many to mention here; but it (human scale technology) is happening in very many Third World Countries. And, from all indications, it seems here to stay.

    My advice to anyone who is considering marketing technology in Third World Countries: Consider family or village-level business, preferably local fabrication -- and you will soon be smiling your way to the bank.

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