Information: The seventh Component of the Thinking Environment
This is a component where I have had to cultivate an enormous amount of courage in order to have a relationship with this component. If there's any component out of the 10 components of a Thinking Environment, that is my nemesis, that is my Achilles heel, it's this one: the component of information.
It's such an extraordinary component, and it's got several different meanings and definitions. So, when we present the component of information between us - when we're thinking together, and when we're bringing the component of information in order to support each other's finest, fully independent thinking - what we're really talking about, first of all, is facing reality.
We’re talking about facing reality by first of all, embracing the facts, embracing the data. What is the data? What are the facts of what it is that we're trying to think about? And - if we really want to be good at “presencing” the component of information - one of the questions we should be asking ourselves regularly all the time, in fact, is: do we actually have all of the facts that we need in order to be able to do a good job of thinking about whatever it is that we're thinking about together? That's a big and tricky question, isn't it? Do we have all the facts?
Arguably, you could say it's not possible ever to have all of the facts, but I think just living with that question, and living into that question means that we do a better good, and better job of facing when we don't have the facts. We do a better good, and a better job of looking for them, and finding them. So that's the first thing that we do when we want to present the component of information: we ask ourselves, do we have all of the facts? If we become aware of the fact that we don't, then we do whatever it takes to improve the amount of information that we have in terms of data.
The second aspect of facing reality that is part of the component of information is embracing the different social contexts that exist when any group of people come together. Even if it's just two people thinking together, there will be different social contexts between those two people. In particular, when we're talking about embracing, and recognizing social context, we're talking about specifically noticing the differences in social context that may have produced internalized oppression for some of the people in the room.
Different social contexts means that we become aware of the fact that it isn't an equal playing field. But some people in the room will have had way more privilege granted to them purely by the lottery of birth. So, recognizing that people look at life through different lenses, and that those different lenses have been colored by a whole lifetime of experiences which have been shaped by these different social contexts, means that we are doing a better job of facing reality.
If we can become people that demonstrate to other people that we recognize the difference in social contexts, we become people who are doing a better job of creating a more fully realistic, lived experience for the people in the room who are trying to think together.
The third aspect of this facing reality is being willing to dismantle denial. It's interesting, isn't it: dismantling denial? Because of course, if you're really in denial, you don't know that you're in it. That's the nature of denial: the stuff that we're denying - we're not aware of - because we're denying it. This is one of the ways in which we need each other.
I think one of the most powerful expressions of the component of information is having the courage -which we're all about at BraveHeart: cultivating courage - having the courage to be able to face what needs facing with someone who may not be recognizing that they need to face it, of being able to give good feedback, being able to hold up a mirror, being able to say to someone: “I think there's something that we need to look at here and we're not looking at it.” Because we're all in our own boxes, and often the instructions for getting out of the box are written on the outside, and that's why we need each other: to be able to dismantle denial together, to face what needs facing, and to create a more accurate picture of reality, because that's what the human mind needs in order to do its best thinking and get fullest picture of reality that it can get.
And that's what we get when we present the component of information.