Social Contracts Are Blowing Up (1 of 3)

It struck me with force this week watching social media feeds about violence being perpetrated on people of colour, protests, learning about the Boogaloo Bois and Deepfakes – things I never heard of until the last couple of days – that we already live in multi-verse, disconnected in time, space and reality. We have people and worldviews living in parallel universes, even side-by-side, with little to no connection with each other and seemingly few, if any, ways to bridge the divides.

There’s a lot to take in this year already. First there was coronavirus causing a pandemic through widespread contagion. It resulted in governments all over the world shut down air traffic and businesses unless they were essential or able to pivot to provide much needed supplies and equipment. People were asked to shelter at home as much as possible to flatten the curve and reduce the burden on health care facilities and staff. This has had a dramatic effect on all of our societal and economic norms and patterns and there is no sense of when things might “return to normal” if such a thing is possible.

Then came more high-profile deaths of Black people in the US by police or other people, building on the outright threats white people and especially “fragile” white women have made against black men and women by calling the police. George Floyd’s death was the spark that ignited protests around the world. The straw that broke the camel’s back. The spark that blew apart the tinderbox.

Minneapolis in flames, June 2020

Now, it seems like all of a sudden the world no longer looks like it did a few months ago or even a few days ago. At least on the surface. The rumblings have been brewing beneath the surface for a very long time.

For those who haven’t yet come across these terms, the Boogaloo Bois is a virtually organized American far-right extremist movement beginning in the dark webs and exploding on the mainstream a few months ago. Members, who are mainly young, white males with a love for guns and a hate for the police, say they are preparing for a coming second American Civil War, which they call the “boogaloo”. They have been organizing on the internet, ready to step up to occasions where they can piggy back on real life events, take them over and wreak havoc and destruction, which is exactly what has happened in Minneapolis and other American cities in recent days. However they are a very disjointed network. You can read more about that in this article.

Deepfake generally refers to videos in which the face and/or voice of a person, usually a public figure, has been manipulated using artificial intelligence software in a way that makes the altered video look authentic. Deepfakes are considered a source of concern because they are often created to be intentionally misleading, making it look like a politician said something they didn’t, or making it appear like a celebrity was in a pornographic video they weren’t in. With a propensity to simply click and share information it doesn’t take long for misinformation to spread. It takes a lot longer to refute, if it can be done effectively at all.

The ways many of us, especially those of us with privilege, have learned to navigate the world are not serving us well anymore. It is important to note, this is a world that has never served people of colour or those living in poverty well.

Worldviews are being challenged. Implicit and explicit social contracts that have guided social behaviour and relationships, that have kept things in some kind of balance, or in check, are blowing up. We write more about social contracts in the next two posts and Trevor Noah spoke vulnerably and eloquently on social contracts in this video post.

Essentially, we no longer have a foothold of familiarity. We are deep in unknown territory. Deep in the not knowing of what will happen next on many fronts.

Can we view this as an invitation for radical redesign of systems that are inherently racist? Inherently unfair and unjust for non-dominant populations? The number of people, communities and countries now taking a stand, or a knee, for social justice is encouraging. The number of people speaking out is growing as is the number of people who seem to be jarred out of the numbness that has protected them from needing to see injustices in the world. Will this be temporary or will it gain enough momentum to take root? Really take root. To disrupt a system in need of disruption.

An Art of Hosting colleague posted about chamos in the Chaordic Pattern we usually reference as the Chaordic Path. At Worldview Intelligence, we have written about how a number of political leaders have demonstrated Chaordic Leadership in this time of a global pandemic. We reference the Chaordic Path often in our work with a focus on the space between chaos and order where emergence and innovation most often occur. We mention chamos, on the far side of chaos where violence, destruction and death happen. Our colleague offered that a threshold has opened for the release of injustice, pain, racism, abuse and rage that has been held in the land, simmering under the surface, probably since the inception of the United States of America.

Trying to squelch the chaos will not work. It will add fuel to the literal and metaphorical fires, taking us deeper into chamos.

The social contracts that have provided guidance for individual and collective behaviour have been falling apart for a long time now, although it feels to some as if they are suddenly blowing up. Where do we stand? Where do you stand? What are the worldview perspectives that will help carry us through this time? Will this time of chamos destroy the structures and systems that have supported racism and injustice, allowing the new to arise from the ashes? How long will it take? What role will we each play?

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