A new breed of social change activists has emerged that wants us to become comfortable with complexity, chaos, uncertainty and ambiguity.
They contend, and I agree, that we no longer live in a world where we know exactly where we are going.
Instead of going from A to B.
We are going from A to MAYBE.
As an explorer by nature I’m comfortable with the occasional leap into the unknown. The other reality is that when pushed to the limit, my insecurities resurface and I revert to old habits.
Insecurity is a natural companion when heading into the unknown and doing what we’ve never done before. When that happens we tend to react (overreact) to uncertainty with certainty – the certainty of our beliefs, values and the ‘way’ things should be done. We are drawn to leaders and thinkers who provide predictable responses and who reinforce our view of the world. We invest in technologies that promise we can keep doing what we’ve always done. We find fault with those we disagree with, even though we are not sure what to do.
If you want folks to take a leap of faith, the future must become more familiar and less strange. Not everyone is a risk taker or explorer. Anchoring compelling visions and bold solutions to uncertainty is a tough sell.
It takes time for our behavior to catch up with our aspirations. That’s where artists can help. Artists have been taking us beyond our perceptual limits for centuries. Their specialty, as my daughter Catherine Etmanski suggests, is transforming, “our perceptions of reality, and the possibility that we will subsequently act upon these newly formed perceptions.”
Artists are essential companions for today’s activists. We won’t bust through limits without them.
“Art bridges the silos that separate us as we confront today’s pressing issues. Art creates new visions and engagement, connecting the head and the heart.”