I don’t think I’m racist. At least, not consciously so. And I would hate to think I was unconsciously racist. (Althougth the PURPLE vMEME easily makes racists of us all if we’re not careful, with its not-of-our-tribe discriminations!)
I guess I sort of knew enough from my studies in Psychology and Sociology to recognise vaguely that I was ethnocentric. Today it was brought home to me just how ethnocentric I am.
I was exposed to the ideas of a female Pakistani business consultant – WOAHHHH!!!!!! Hang on! A female business consultant from Pakistan???????? Well, there goes the tabloids’ version of a Pakistan stuffed full of sub-al-Qaeda clerics intent on reducing the world to a feudal fundamentalist state, with the women only allowed out of their homes if chaperoned by their menfolk and dressed in full burkha.
Clearly there is more diversity in Pakistan than ‘The Sun’ newspaper would have us believe!
Score one on the enthnocentric challenge meter!
Then, the ideas of this consultant, Ramla Akhtar, are really rather interesting. Although it is nominally a business model, Ramla’s People Centred Model of Businesa (PC-MoB) is as much a model for growing psychologically-healthy individuals in a sociologically-healthy society.
Ramla admits to developing her schematic before discovering Spiral Dynamics; so it will be more than a little interesting to see how the PC-MoB develops as she takes the concepts of vMEMES and memes on board. Even so, PC-MoB has much to offer as it is now in terms of sociopsychological thought. As Ramla says, it is as much about asking questions, as proposing solutions, about how we act and interact in the structures of society.
PC-MoB uses the same kind of 4 quadrants idea Ken Wilber (1995) bequeathed us – and developed so powerfully by Don Beck (2000) in 4Q/8L. However, where Wilber has a tendency to lose many of us in the heights of his abstraction, Akhtar relates her concepts to the practical realities of most people’s lives.
A potent foundation on which much can be built.
Yet this concept didn’t come from the gurus’ mansions in California or even the noted Integral Salons of Seattle, New York City or London. It came from Karachi in Pakistan, a country caricatured in the Western media as socially, economically and philosophically backward.
The contradictions reach a zenith of sorts when you realise that one of Ramla’s favourite books is the Qur’an!
It isn’t supposed to be like this. Great ideas, according to the (neo-)science Western text books, come from the (neo-)scientific West. Not the pre-scientific East.
Score two on the ethnocentric challenge meter!
Better take the East seriously
An hour or so following links from Ramla Akhtar’s various web activities did nothing to dispell my schemas that there is massive poverty in the Indian sub-continent, that the hard BLUE of Islamic fundamentalism does represent a real threat to the ORANGE-led consumerism of American Capitalism and that the West does need to be concerned with what is happening politically in Aghanistan and Pakistan. (Even though Western intervention has, in the mid-term, arguably done as much harm as good.)
What my web odyssey did show me was many, many instances of Pakistani (and Indian!) innovation, creativity, diversity and rich thinking that was a match (at least!) for much of what you would find on comparable Western web sites.
Why am I surprised (and delighted!), I ask myself. I know historically that China, India and the Middle East contained advanced civilisations when Europe was languishing in the post-Roman misery of the Dark Ages. Even now it is clear that China and India will be among the most dominant players in the world economy within just a few years.
When only a hundred years ago Europeans were colonial masters of the East and Asians were regarded (and treated) as racial inferiors – how ever much one might abhor racism and the suffering that colonialism inflicted upon millions upon millions…
…when the United States has dominated cultural and scientific thought in the West and way beyond since the end of the Second World War…
…it takes a little recalibration to realise just how alive with thought the East is and just how much thinkers in the East can offer to thinkers in the West – and what a global collaboration might achieve. The more superficial stereotypes in what Carl Gustav Jung (1917) called the Collective Unconscious are being challenged and need to change.
I find that every now and again I hit one of those ‘ah-ha moments’ Abraham Maslow talked about as a characteristic of (YELLOW) Self-Actualisation. I think Ramla Akhtar might have triggered one of them!