I came across a phrase recently, attributed to Marxism, but of wider significance than that philosophy. “Context conditions consciousness.”
My encounter with it also appeared around the same time that discussions were rife about corruption, malpractice and professional weakness in relation to the world of finance, banking, child abuse, police misbehaviour and much more in our society. In that discussion someone on BBC Radio 4 said “The problem is not that there are a few rotten apples in the barrel: the barrel itself is rotten.”
While this could be about the whole of society, which would burden us all to wanting to leave this planet, it does challenge us to look at how we understand the organisational structures in which we all take roles. That faces us with the way our moment to moment micro-decisions and micro-actions are the co-creative process that shapes the barrels in which we find ourselves meeting and affecting others. So, the cleansing of our own barrel is in our hands.
John Bazalgette is a Senior Organisational Analyst and Director of the Grubb Institute.