Episode 42: Stop Fighting & Start Creating: Systems Thinking with Sundiata Soon-Jahta
We’ve all heard the phrase “the system is broken.” But is it really broken? No. The system isn’t broken, it’s working just as it was designed to. So, what is the “system” and how can we change it to work in our favor?
In this episode, Sundiata Soon-Jahta and I break down the concept of systems thinking and how it can help us to understand both colonization and decolonization. You’ll learn Sundiata’s definition of systems thinking, why we shouldn’t be “fighting the system”, and what you should do instead.
Sundiata is the co-creator of GROW, a network of people and initiatives designed to promote and create social, economic, and political systems centered on Liberation, Social & Environmental Sustainability, and Unconditional Love. He is extremely passionate about helping people discover the power of Authentic Dialogue, a communication framework that leverages complex issues in personal relationships and organizations to help them generate solutions that foster deeper understanding, cohesiveness, freedom, and trust.
What is systems thinking?
According to scholar Donella Meadows, a system is an interconnected set of elements that could be people, cells, molecules, companies, beliefs, or anything organized to perform whatever functions are required to achieve something. We live in a system of other interconnected systems. Your body is a system made up of several interconnected subsystems. When we’re analyzing our society, we’re thinking and talking about social systems and how they’ve all evolved in the same way humans have.
The reason why we encounter so many systemic inconsistencies and dysfunctions is because we don’t currently honor the interconnections and interdependencies of our social systems. We’ve been forced into a linear way of living and thinking, even though in reality, life is not linear.
Systems thinking is essentially a set of tools or a language for understanding the root causes of problems and issues. It’s a framework for understanding the evolutionary origins of where things started and what factors contribute to a certain outcome.
“Systems thinking has taught me that it’s the design of our systems that produces the problems that we have because systems are more powerful than individual choices.”
– Sundiata Soon-Jahta
In order to colonize a group of people, you have to do it systematically, using their minds. Decolonization happens in the same way. When we dive deep into our minds and pull out the blocks that are keeping us stuck in a colonized mindset, that’s when we can begin to decolonize ourselves, our children, and our people. Systems thinking helped open up that world for me and I hope it can do the same for you.
How can we, as individuals, affect the systems that rule our society? How can we reimagine the future for our children’s children?
“Once we begin to see the relationship between structure, aka how a system is designed, and behavior, the results a system consistently produces based on its design, we can begin to understand how our social systems work, what makes them continually produce dysfunctional results, and how to shift them into healthier behavior patterns,” Sundiata says.
“We have this idea that there’s someone to blame… and one of the biggest things I had to learn with systems thinking is that there’s no one to blame… The issues that we continually see are based on faulty design that we still honor, that people created tens of thousands of years ago based on the evolution of their cognitive abilities and the technologies that existed during that time as well as their communication abilities and their problem-solving abilities.”
Sundiata believes that we can’t change our current reality by fighting the existing systems. We have to create NEW systems that make the current systems obsolete. We, as individuals, must make choices every single day that shift our behavior from honoring systems of power-over and control to showing up in your relationships in a way that honors power within collaboration.
When we continually educate ourselves about decolonization and empower our children with the resources and systems that will serve them, we will eventually make the systems that do not serve our children obsolete. Although we’ve been encouraged to “fight the system”, whether it be the patriarchy, white supremacy, or capitalism, we need to stop fighting and start creating.
The more we SEE and NAME these systems of oppression and control, the easier it will be to make more conscious decisions to reject them. That’s the work we need to do.
Ready to start reimagining the future using systems thinking? Listen in to this powerful discussion to learn more!
About Sundiata Soon-Jahta:
Sundiata Soon-Jahta the co-creator of GROW, a network of people and initiatives designed to promote and create social, economic, and political systems centered on Liberation, Social & Environmental Sustainability, and Unconditional Love.
He is extremely passionate about helping people discover the power of Authentic Dialogue, a communication framework that leverages complex issues in personal relationships and organizations to help them generate solutions that foster deeper understanding, cohesiveness, freedom, and trust.
Sundiata is also the host of the Theory of Indivisibility Podcast which analyzes the evolutionary origins, current complexities, and future of our social, economic, and political systems.
To connect further with Sundiata:
Visit his website: drsundiata.com
Listen to his podcast: www.liveindivisible.com
Connect with him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/iGoToGrow
Follow him on Instagram: www.instagram.com/dr.sundiata
Theory of Indivisibility Framework: https://bit.ly/33FXqK5
Systems Thinking Resource – The Unschool of Disruptive Design: www.unschools.co
Systems Thinking Resource (free) – thwink.org
Thinking in Systems by Donella Meadows: https://amzn.to/3rn17ws
“My Violent Youth And The Systems That Made Me” by Sundiata Soon-Jahta: https://bit.ly/3fCZl4I
“After The Protest…Organize. A Radical Guide For Creating Sustainable Change.” by Sundiata Soon-Jahta: https://bit.ly/3nBAOSf