How to Widen Your Lens and become a Systemic Thinker and Communicator: in memory of Paul Byers
“The universe is a significant single whole…the most important function of art and science is to awaken this feeling and keep it alive in those who are receptive to it.”
It was my mentor, Paul Byers from Columbia University, who introduced me to the concept of Systemic Thinking and how to widen my lens. While his previous career as a photographer, prior to being an anthropologist, may have contributed to this, I think rather it enhanced his view. When I decided to widen the lens of my own personal environment, I made a pact to celebrate all my interpersonal relationships. These were not just words; this pact included embracing the many possibilities in what I call the “art of communication.” It was my commitment to make a conscious effort to deemphasize merely “doing things” and accentuate the “be” part of myself. I felt that I can better know who I was through relationships. This seemed to be a good prerequisite to a much higher and encompassing style of communicating. It also opened the door to my being more empathic and forgiving. It felt like a “softening” of my being. The consequence of this shift was that I began experiencing the “energy” of communication and the art of understanding what it meant to be interdependent., which in its pure sense encouraged an awareness of my good intentions. In short, it created a “pause” that fostered an awe of my unique opportunity to join, improvise and share in all of humanity. It was the beginning of forming a collective energy that exponentially connects to new personal and global possibilities.
This perspective was reinforced for me at a screening of the documentary “Deaf Jam,” which followed the lives of students from the Lexington School for the Deaf in New York City. Through the wonderful means of poetry these individuals demonstrated the power of communicating and finding their “voice.” After the screening there was a Q & A opportunity to meet the director and two young women who were featured in the film. One of the young women was of Palestinian descent and not deaf. The other, who was born deaf, was Israeli. They shared how they were able to create and perform collaborative poems that represented them both. Their experience demonstrated the power of synchronizing and producing a harmony that crossed cultural…