Thinking Tank 21.03.2011 Global or local?

The subject for this week’s Thinking Tank discussion Is Local or Global? Where would you start to make the world a better place?Thinking Tank debate Global or local

When I worked in multinationals and international development, I was all for global solutions. The more time I spend at a microcommunity level the more I wonder if it isn’t just the same – so we may as well do something where we find ourselves. You may feel though that big initiatives like global warming need a top-down approach.

This Thursday, online, at 4pm GMT. Be local, be global, enlighten and be enlightened. Stretch your mind with people you might never otherwise meet. And if you can’t make the live event, why not twitter now using #tanklocal and we can feed in your comments

Peace Thinking Tank 16.12.2010

A far from peaceful debate, though with slightly more convergence around barriers to peace than we saw regarding desirability or actions for peace.

There were clearly different schools of thought – the peaceniks and the economists for one.

The most strongly supported statements throughout the discussion was about the challenge of peace (less appealing than polarity):

  • It brings focus to be against something. A sense of unity. Easier to agree on what we hate than what we love

Building on the earlier statement:

  • Polarity give us a feeling of safety or of “righteousness” it is clearer to see what one stands for.

Guest participants
As a new feature we had “guest” participants – relevant quotes from a range of well known people. Not all of them went down well, but top performers were

  • When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” Peace Pilgrim
  • Without conflict, there is no progress or change.” Marx
  • As I have said, the first thing is to be honest with yourself. You can never have an impact on society if you have not changed yourself… Great peacemakers are all people of integrity, of honesty, but humility.” Nelson Mandela
  • If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.” Dalai Lama

And these views were reflected in our conclusions at the end of the debate:

  • more than ever we need leaders who are able to move the crowd in an ethical way
  • funny he we talk about world peace and yet our own peace over Xmas is a challenge :)
  • I like the comment that peace requires “material and cultural equilibrium”  bit this may be the start of a possible solution!

Barriers to peace – religion, poverty and ignorance

Before we got there though, we considered why peace is so elusive – what gets in our way?

  • Religion was an early suspect: Or power struggles USE religious beliefs to generate loyalty
  • And poverty: how can you feel peace in your heart when you are hungry every day
  • Lack of guidance: Who teaches children about peace? parents, schoolteachers, priests, etc: – not many of them
  • And greed: We don’t want to be equal, we are greedy to be better off than average. So we encroach on each other

Personal actions

As usual, at the end of the debate we considered the actions we could take personally. In the course of the discussion, some developed an appetite for peace action:

  • There is still time to do something for peace in 2010! 15 more days!
  • Support charities working for peace!
  • In the home / workplace / community / traffic jam I might try to notice when I’m taking a polarity position instead of a wholeness one
  • make peace with one of my enemies
  • I am buying peace as my xmas presents

Christmas Thinking Tank Results 07.12.2008

Kids want happy families not presents, yet adults feel the pressure to spend!???

In December for the first time we ran two Thinking Tanks. One for under 16s and then one for adults. Children talked a lot about families, the sparkle of decorations and the feeling of excitement. Adults talked about the over-commercialisation of Christmas but recognised it only works because we buy into it. We concluded with some great ideas to buck the trend.

It’s not the way we want it

The general conclusion was this Christmas had lost some of it’s spark for adults. For some that was the declining religious significance while the majority rued the seemingly irresistible commercialisation of the event  – almost 60% of adults felt Christmas had less value today than when they were young.

  • Pity it as been turned for many people into a purchasing circus over the last 15 years
  • [I feel a] bit of guilt, as we are not celebrating it as it should be celebrated

What we like

The positive aspects of Christmas for the adult group were mostly around feasting—good food and wine, shared with family and friends. There was nostalgia for a simpler era when presents were homemade and there wasn’t the same pressure to spend.

  • human beings need rituals, especially those to do with change

In the young people’s group, the emphasis was also on family, though food was hardly mentioned! 60% of them felt that Christmas was most enjoyable for families (surprisingly, 20% thought turkeys!)

When the young people got to make a wish for Christmas, they went for peace, snow, health and love. Much lower scores for i-pods and quad bikes.

Offered a wish for the world, less environmental destruction, poverty and racism were unanimously supported.

  • racism to stop
  • don’t waste the world
  • people to recycle

When we forced the issue by challenging participants to limit to a £50 budget most adults chose to spend it on food. And many thought they might even enjoy it more

  • More. Because the reason to come together is not the gifts, the food, …. it is only the friendship
  • More value. Will have to be creative and invest personal time to find the right present and please the recipient

Hope for the future

In good Dickens tradition, at the end of our discussion we considered future Christmases and whether we might find ways to increase their value. 50% felt this would be possible.

Some of the more popular suggestions were:

  • I’m a great fan of the “random acts of kindness” school – if we ALL do it, it encourages others!!
  • ensure that we see giving of their time and presence as valuable as presents
  • maybe if we include a personal promise (eg to read a bedtime story, get home from work in time) in each Christmas card we send, word will get around

When the young people came up with their suggestions for improving Christmas they recognised adults need some help with enjoying themselves:

  • but adults are part of the family (!)
  • help each other more on Christmas day – my mum always says it’s exhausting
  • I think a lot of the magic that is “created” at xmas is FOR children – and maybe adults should enjoy that more, seeing children happy and excited
  • I think if it could be made a bit simpler and be more about being with people and showing the nice side of life, rather than consumerism all the time, it would be loads better.

The final word comes from the children’s debate on how to improve Christmas for everyone:

    be nice and share

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