Problem Solving In Community

From an Interview with Werner Erhard in Scene Magazine, 1982:

We are developing a prototype that will be used in our centers throughout the world to support people in being able to be effective in their community, rather than simply having a list of complaints and gripes and feeling like there is nothing they can do. A lot of the work is allowing people to get in touch with the fact that they have the power to bring forth in themselves those qualities which will actually make a difference in their community, their family and their work.

How do you approach problem solving in a community?

One of the things that I have learned is that it’s very difficult to get to the actual causes of the problems in a community And let me say parenthetically, I’m making a distinction here between the explanation we give for things and the actual causes of them. At any rate, it is difficult to get to the actual causes when they are obscured by a simple lack of integrity by the people “in community ”

What do you mean, lack of integrity?

We discovered that when people don’t stand behind their word, things stop working. And you can’t even discover why they stop working because the source is obscured by a basic lack of integrity Here’s how I think it works: You go to the doctor and the doctor comes up with a tentative diagnosis that you have disease X. He tells you to take these pills three times a day Most of the time you remember twice a day sometimes only once a day and occasionally not at all. You go back to the doctor with the same complaints. The doctor now rules out disease X because he knows that he gave you the pills and he thinks you took them. He now has to conclude that you have disease Y and he gives you medication for that which, of course, doesn’t work. It just keeps getting more and more en-mired. The same thing holds true for community.

What does that mean to the individual?

The people in the community start to have the sense that they are really only going through the motions, that they can’t really make any difference; and then their choices become insignificant. There are all those little choices we all have to make every day like whether to be concerned about the interests of our neighborhood, whether to walk over the trash in the street or pick it up.

Werner Erhard – Interview in Scene Magazine, 1982

Read the rest of this entry  at the Werner Erhard Biography Website

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