I was talking to someone the other day who was describing how they had struggled with the formalised structure of schooling and employment and needed to be self-employed in order to be able to make the most of their abilities. It got me thinking that if the current formal structure of education and employment worked best for us as human beings, why do most of us look forward to having time for hobbies, holidays and retirement? Why do we put up with, as so many of us do, a one-size-fits-all education leading to us being a widget in a one-size-fits-all work culture in order to live a one-size-fits-all lifestyle. If it came naturally to us surely the advertising industry would not exist and we would not crave to escape from it.
Is not the problem that those who govern or manage us convince us that, for the sake of ‘the economy’, we have to live this way What they actually mean is that, in order to protect their positions of power and wealth, we must stay on our treadmill even as doing so destroys the ecosystems on which we depend.
I then had an image of people as ‘squiggly’ jigsaw pieces. People are squiggly shaped – all slightly different – with their own strengths and weaknesses – a bit like the pieces of a jigsaw.
If you let them be themselves – find their place – how they best fit in with others – they can build a strong coherent picture.
However, if you try to remove the squiggles – make them all fit into the same neatly shaped holes – then you end up with an incoherent jumble.
How many times have you seen someone doing a job they are not suited to or hate? How much more productive and happy would they be if they were allowed to find their part in the puzzle? No more square pegs in round holes or squiggly people in uniform roles!
Maybe there is a message here about those who want power, whether in a commercial organisation or government. Those whose squiggles mean that they seek power usually want to make people fit into neatly shaped holes but all they subsequently create is dysfunction. The trouble with allowing power seekers to have power is that it is not a recipe for collective well-being nor high productivity.
If you want the best picture of society, you need to recognise the potential of your squiggly people to create a coherent and productive whole, but only if they are given the flexibility and devolved power to find their place in it. Could we not do so much better with co-operative based businesses and housing, citizens’ assemblies, proportional representation and universal basic income among other things?