Saturday, 17 November 2012

the tipping point

[I started writing this blog post a few days ago and then ironically experienced my own 'tipping point', something that happened to change my perspective and set me on a different course of action]

A tipping point is described variously as the threshold or moment of critical mass or the crisis stage in a process.  In physics it is "the point at which an object is displaced from a state of stable equilibrium into a new, different state".  Malcolm Gladwell in his book 'The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference' (2000) talks about a social epidemic being dependent on the involvement of a few people with a "particular and rare set of social gifts", the 80/20 principle.

And these people he describes as connectors, information specialists and persuaders.  With networks, knowledge and powerful negotiation skills.  Gladwell mentions wanting to show people how to start "positive epidemics of their own", making sense of the world and it being a "very fun ride".  In the crazy world of psychiatric services where consumers are in danger of being consumed, it might be the only way of bringing about transformative system change and a new way of being.

By understanding the tipping point Gladwell suggests that we have a way of "decoding" the world around us, and coming to terms with sudden change.  Which despite our best efforts is irresistible.  As in the movements of social change that have swept society along, started by the few with a commitment to change.  An exciting phenomena especially in terms of psychiatric system change.  For those of us who are working to transform a system that is oppressive, and where the threat of force is ever present.

I take hope from the reminder that "Things can happen all at once, and little changes can make a huge difference.".  Here's to little changes and huge differences.  

A toast

Here's tae us
Wha's like us
Damn few,
And they're a' deid
Mair's the pity!

May those who live truly be always believed,
And those who deceive us be always deceived.
Here's to the men of all classes,
Who through lasses and glasses
Will make themselves asses!

I drink to the health of another,
And the other I drink to is he
In the hope that he drinks to another,
And the other he drinks to is me.

Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand
And may his great prosperity
Ne'er fail in old Scotland!


[proviso: this isn't an exhortation to drink alcohol as I don't drink it myself but rather an encouragement to keep on keeping on]


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