The Healing Power of Systems Change in a Fragile World

Introduction: The Case for Systems Change We live in a period of deep turbulence in the world, with multiple systems failing simultaneously. In the United States our health care, education, housing, jobs, and financial systems are in disarray. Meanwhile, our adversarial political system is so mired in polarization, risk-aversion, and the courting of special interests that little meaningful progress can be made on any of these issues. Globally, we face threats of existential magnitude from climate change; criminal and terrorist networks with potential access to weapons of mass destruction; a growing scarcity of food, water, oil, and other natural resources; and an interdependent economy vulnerable to its weakest link and the whims of those motivated by personal greed. 'Fixing' any one of these systems is a daunting prospect. That they are deeply inter-related can leave even the wisest strategist and most effective problem-solver feeling helpless. What’s going on here? Our thought leaders and those able to see the bigger picture tell us we are living in a time of profound paradigm shift similar to our leap from agricultural to industrial societies. We are moving from a world of separation to a world of interconnectedness; from a mechanistic or reductionist worldview to a holistic or quantum understanding of the nature of reality; from a world of industrial growth that depletes to a world of sustainability that replenishes.

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