People’s mental models as a leverage point for a better world.

Axo Sal
Axo Sal
Draft · 5 min read

Is there still no place like home, a home, our world, a good one, without major problems? Where do problems come from?

The world problems stem from the system, our societal system, our social organization in form of the economic system, incentives it gives to people, public & private sectors, governance system, the education system, sociocultural norms, beliefs, views and values which dictate how societies operate and which generates certain results.

The social organization generates collective views about the world, how to live and what to do. It produces and influences human beings… their set of beliefs, values, knowledge, motives, behaviours or ideas of how to act and think. This is the ultimate power. Normalizing power as Michel Foucault reasoned. The individuals in the system might just not realize that they are doing something wrong, bad or harmful. Majority just do what’s “expected” of them, serving the interests of an internal system.

And then there are opportunities to use in order to solve problems, advance the world forward and create that good world that we all want. The world system and individuals can be visualized as such:

But changing the system is not that easy. Many bright minds spent their time writing about and proposing new better systems or propositions on parts of it. This text could also be about describing a better system with topics like better governance system and economy, new institutions to guide and help people, a world government, basic income and so on but people would just read it, and move on with business as usual.

First people need to have the right mindset. Without it and motivation, all that is kind of useless. Try to change the system and you’ll hit the wall of people who think otherwise or have other interests. Try to create and work on one solution, and still, you’d be solving only one problem to some extent in one specific way. We need the critical mass of people who are willing to do the same. We need to change it from within. The various systems are complex and only people within, know them best, know the leverage points.

We need to make people virtuous and virtuous people will find the way as Aristotle said. No matter where the person is if the person is virtuous, she/he will find the way to the truth, to the knowledge, to what’s best and what’s right.

There are many flaws in the system but a change in the system can only be done if the majority are for it, hence we’d need to first change people’s mental models. People’s mental models that correspond to all the facts about life, death, the world, a good functioning society and so on.

When we have such people in various fields, they will find a way to improve it for the better. I don’t know who is where and what problem they are keen to solve. All I know is that there are many problems and we need people in various fields to fix them. The goal is to get a critical mass of virtuous people who will collectively solve problems, create and sustain that home we dream about.

We need to get more people towards higher levels of consciousness as suggested by spiral dynamics.

Musings on effective communication

Think outside of the box in communication with others. Talk not about a particular problem which triggers defensiveness, but talk instead about the bigger picture topics in light of which all else becomes irrelevant. Target the underlying mental models which generate such views in the first place.

Rather than fighting for a particular problem with an idea and trying to push it through by persuading people who have different interests and worldviews. One can think outside of the box, take a step back and get people to think about the bigger picture of life, the world around us and what it all means. Looking at it philosophically and scientifically. If communicated effectively, it will change people’s outlook on life. Then, by self-motivation, people will join you, given you are right. Not only that, it will change their views and they will do what’s right otherwise, it will become their new way of living and looking at the world. This is what will then start a domino, pay it forward, effect.

People are fighting over various subjects (e.g. politics, economics), but here again, maybe they haven’t asked deeper questions and gained perspectives on the whole picture about the world and life and what it all means, whether what we seek and want is the best there is. The questions that would make all fighting irrelevant in the light of bigger picture, deeper insights and questions that would require us, each of us, to seek better answers. The new system would emerge ones we have common values. It’s not about fighting the old it’s about creating the new. At the core we all are human beings first, living in this world. We are not our job, not our ideology. We are in this together trying to figure things out. We all just want to live a good life in a good world around us. Everyone should be on the same journey of seeking the truth, figuring out what’s best and what’s right, updating our beliefs in the light of new evidence.

We are fighting with a bunch of symptoms in the form of various problems and have done so historically. The root cause in everything is people’s minds, their view of life and world, their way of thinking, their values, beliefs, what they think they should do and seek. It is therefore important and impactful to change people’s mental models for the better. Once people have the right foundation, they themselves will question and seek the right and best answers in those various problems. They themselves will become active citizens and be willing to do good, solving problems and advancing the world forward, because they will know that it is the best thing to do, that it is in their best interest to do so. For that people need to gain new perspectives on life, the world around them, on what’s truly important and the meaning of it all. That’s what this work is about. A guide on making informed decisions about life and the world around you.

Having a deeper understanding helps us to not react to the events and problems that occurred and persist because of the underlying structure and the collective mental models, but to change those underlying causes, that will, in turn, change the system, which will solve many problems at once.

Resources on systems analysis & thinking

Selected videos in the series: System Stakeholder Analysis |> Leverage points, |> Iceberg Model |> Systems thinking.

A description of the potentially better societal system here: