A Discovery of Parts to Wholeness
Why have Cathy and Chris written over twenty non-fiction books for adults? And why have they written and illustrated over forty-five children’s books?
Well, it’s not because they are writers. That is, it is not because it was their goal to write books.
Rather, it was that they became aware of a reality that hadn’t been written about before.
When they first started writing they didn’t know that Thomas Hobbes had written about a small piece of it. They didn’t know that Herbert Spencer had written about another small piece. But neither Hobbes nor Spencer had conceived of what they were exploring as being a step toward a discovery.
Cathy and Chris came upon the realization that certain things, important concepts, behaved like body parts.
Let us repeat that: certain concepts behave like body parts. Being loving behaves like a body part because much as the heart pumps, gives to the rest of the body and receives from the rest of the body, for nourishment and health, so too, being loving involves giving and receiving for nourishment. It involves giving and receiving things like time, attention and affection and other resources in nourishing ways.
Now, that alone does not rise to the level of “discovery”. Or does it? Is it a tiny discovery? Yes, I believe we can say it is a tiny discovery. We discovered much more, but first, we have to establish why we can say even that, that little observation is a “discovery”. The idea that the heart behaves a certain way, well, that’s simply an observation of nature. And so, no one would question that recognizing how the heart behaves is a discovery. It’s not a very extraordinary discovery. In other words, it’s not a discovery like the discovery of a law of gravitation. But it is a small discovery about nature, the recognition that the heart behaves a certain way, as a pump. We, of course, did not make that discovery. That discovery was made quite some time ago. Let’s consider, though, whether recognizing that being loving we act as a heart is also a discovery. It is because what you’re doing is not simply analogy or metaphor, you’re recognizing a function in common to the heart and being loving. You’re saying that the two, a physical object, the heart, and the act of being loving have a function in common to each other: the function of giving and receiving in a certain way. In other words, you’re noticing a functional common denominator.
A functional common denominator. Is that a discovery? Well, let me give you sort of a layman’s answer, and then I’ll try to support it with some more difficult language.
Science studies how things function. That’s how they get to understand nature. In other words, science, or scientists look at how things function in order to understand nature. When they can say nature functions this or that way, then they're describing the nature, itself. In fact, that’s why when scientists are able to describe nature in terms that meet certain criteria, they are able to say they’ve uncovered a law.
Now, let’s say that they don’t quite meet all the criteria (put aside what the criteria are that are needed to meet the threshold of a law) they then will say they have a theory.
On that note, let’s turn to some of the more challenging language regarding the discovery of a law. Let’s look at this description of “systems theory”. Remember, theory falls short of law.
This is one description of a systems theory. It’s from wikipedia.org, which provides some very basic language, and in this case, is accurate information (information that can be found in other places).
“Systems theory is the interdisciplinary study of systems. A system is an entity with interrelated and interdependent parts; it is defined by its boundaries and it is more than the sum of its parts (subsystem). Changing one part of the system affects other parts and the whole system, with predictable patterns of behavior.”
Systems theory is the interdisciplinary study of systems. You see how we can say we’re engaged in an interdisciplinary study, even as we look at the comparison between a heart and the behavior of being loving. Looking at the heart, that’s something that involves among other fields biology, the study of living organisms. When we look at the concept of “being loving” that’s a concept that is looked at in fields like psychology, “the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in a given context.” (Google definition). Other fields, such as religion, spirituality, sociology, even law, look at the concept of being loving, as well. So, in a simple comparison of the heart’s function to the function of being loving, we are opening the door to interdisciplinary analysis. So, with respect to this one description of a systems theory, it seems as if we are engaged in what they describe.
A system is an entity with interrelated and interdependent parts. We generally think of the body as a system. We think of it as an entity with interrelated and interdependent parts. Are we saying the same here about being loving? Are we saying that it may be thought of as part of some entity with interrelated and interdependent parts?
The answer to that is yes. We are going to label the whole, that being loving is a part of, being whole, or wholeness, or alignment, or harmony. In other words, those descriptions, being whole, wholeness, alignment, harmony, are what we might call a system. The system of being whole, the system of wholeness, the system of alignment, the system of harmony. That’s the overall system we’re looking at.
Now, think about this. We’re going from recognizing that the heart serves a function and being loving serves a similar function and from there were saying maybe being loving is one interrelated and interdependent parts. Intuitively, we’d say, “yes, that being loving” is an interrelated and interdependent part. It seems to be part of something we usually label as “good.” We can say there are parts to “goodness”. We can label goodness, alternatively, wholeness, or alignment, or harmony. And that’s what we’re doing. We’re saying that being loving might be a part of being good or being whole, or being aligned, or being harmonious. Note, right now, we’re saying “might”, as we go, we’re going to assert that it is fair to say we can provide a word that treats being loving as a part of a greater whole “behavioral concept.” To this point, we’re saying that the overall whole behavioral concept that being loving is a part of is what we’re calling “good” or “whole” or “wholeness” or “alignment” or “harmonious.”
It would be very helpful to our ability to say that if there were some other concept that had a function in common with another body part. Then, we could say that we’ve “discovered” that two things act like parts of the body. What if we say that being thoughtful we act as a brain. The word thoughtful is used to describe a behavioral trait. It is the behavior of giving thought in a caring or considerate way. In a way, in a very clear and obvious way, that definition is combining thought with care. Isn’t that a little like saying that the brain and heart work together? Of course, it is. Being thoughtful, we act as the brain, in that we know that the brain thinks or processes and it works together with the heart which nourishes, and we can say that being thoughtful we think or process in ways that nourish others.
So, can we say that being thoughtful is different but related to being loving (or being caring)? Yes, we can. And so, we now have a second part. Can we say that being thoughtful is a part of being “whole” or “aligned” or “harmonious”? Since these terms, whole, aligned, and harmonious imply that there is a whole with parts, and since these are positive terms, we might say that perhaps, whole, aligned, harmonious requires parts like being thoughtful and being loving.
Now, that last paragraph can be flushed out in more detail, and Cathy and Chris have done that in several books. But for now, you can see the point that is being explained.
It seems as if by comparing parts like being thoughtful and being loving to parts like the brain and the heart that Cathy and Chris are beginning to outline a systems theory.
We can examine more of the description of a systems theory to discern whether what Cathy and Chris have described is the discovery of a system.
This is why there are so many books by Cathy and Chris.
The idea is to support their contention that there is a systems discovery.
Now, separate from making a discovery is sharing that discovery with others. Even if you made a discovery, it might take quite a bit of doing to share that with others.
In fact, Chris and Cathy show that it was actually easier to make a discovery, write more than seventy books (and illustrate many of them) than it was to get others to care about that discovery.
The reason for the children’s books was that often people, at a local level, needed some of the children’s books in order to even open to the message in the non-fiction books.
So, what we’d ask you to do is recognize that the children’s books are intended to teach concepts like being loving and being thoughtful, to children, whether or not there is a discovery. Why, well, for obvious reasons, they’re simply good concepts to teach.
But would Cathy and Chris have done that? Would they have written books for children if they had not made an insight and discovery into systems? No. The simple answer is no.
It is the objective nature of a systems discovery that makes this compelling to Cathy and Chris.
Now, we should probably make one more point here. Beyond being loving and being thoughtful, there is another whole sphere that pertains to businesses. And beyond being loving and being thoughtful, there is another whole sphere that pertains to societal organization. We can understand a business organization as having parts like thinking and linking (or pumping) and we can understand society as having parts like technology or tools, which act as the extension of the brain and as having law (including norms and mores), which acts as a heart.
Naturally, this takes a lot of explaining.
What you’ll find when you look at the many books is that each of the books explores different questions that arise when you look at whether this is a discovery and how it affects our ability to align organizations, harmonize relationships, order our society, and make policies that either lead to order and harmony or disorder, chaos, crime, and war.
They even have some writing for scholarly audiences. But they chose to focus on the general public because they wanted to reach a broader population.
So, please recognize when you see some light-hearted material, it doesn’t take away from the fact that there is a very serious insight, or discovery, that they are offering.
If it is truly a discovery, then it is something that you can either wait for someone else to validate and bring to you, or it’s something you can discover together with them to be ahead of the curve. Ahead of the curve in bringing about wholeness, harmony, alignment, balance, and goodness.