January 11, 2012

On the Path to the Tipping Point by Karen Pratt

Filed under: Uncategorized — BringChange2Mind @ 10:34 pm

The theoretical biologist Rupert Sheldrake created the Morphic Field Theory: that a change in the behavior of a species occurs when a critical mass – the exact number – is reached.  When that happens, the behavior or habits of the entire species changes.

Ken Keyes, Jr. wrote the following version of the tale of The Hundredth Monkey:  Off the shore of Japan, scientists had been studying monkey colonies on many separate islands for over thirty years.  In order to keep track of the monkeys, they would lure them out of the trees by dropping sweet potatoes on the beach.  The monkeys came to enjoy this free lunch, and were in plain sight where they could be observed.  One day, an eighteen-month-old female monkey named Imo started to wash her sweet potato in the sea before eating it.  I imagine that it tasted better without the grit and sand or pesticides, or maybe it even was slightly salty and that was good.  Imo showed her playmates and her mother how to do this, her friends showed their mothers, and gradually more and more monkeys began to wash their sweet potatoes instead of eating them grit and all.  At first, only the female adults who imitated their children learned, but gradually others did also.

One day, the scientists observed that all the monkeys on that particular island washed their sweet potatoes before eating them.  Although this was significant, what was even more fascinating was that this change in monkey behavior did not take place only on this one island.  Suddenly, the monkeys on all the other islands were now washing their sweet potatoes as well- despite the fact that monkey colonies on the different islands had no direct contact with each other.

Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. writes that:

“The hundredth monkey” was the hypothesized anonymous monkey that tipped the scales for the species: the one whose change in behavior meant that all monkeys would from then on wash their sweet potatoes before eating them.  As an allegory, The Hundredth Monkey holds the promise that when a critical number of people change their attitude or behavior culture at large will change.  What used to be unthinkable is done by some, and then many; once a critical number of people make that shift, it becomes what we do and how we are as human beings.  Someone has to be a thirty-seventh monkey, and a sixty-third, and a ninety-ninth, before there is a hundredth monkey – and no one knows how close we are or how far away that hundredth monkey is until suddenly, we are there. For human culture to change – for there to be a hundredth monkey – there has to be a human equivalent of Imo and her friends.”

What BC2M is trying to accomplish is to find the tipping point, the point at which that final person changes their mind about mental illness and stigma, finally and inalterably changing human consciousness forever. We are seeking the tipping point, globally.  Every person now on Facebook, every person clicking through to the BC2M website and taking the Pledge, every person being reached by the PSA and Close family speeches – every person who is in the process of changing their mind is one more person on the path to the tipping point.  Each one of us is directly creating the possibility of universal change – we are walking together toward a new world.  And, in fact, isn’t each person changed, each mind changed, each life changed also a tipping point within the community in which they live?


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