Credit: Kai de Fontenay / Father and daughter, Cambridge 1978
We live in a world in which distrust and greed and violence masquerade as common sense, and in which the pathways of distrust and greed and violence are rapidly becoming self-validating. By following those pathways we create the social and international structures, the premises upon which we must live. By choosing the «common sense» of distrust, we choose also the progressive truth of distrust. We cause horror to become the only pathway to wisdom.
Gregory Bateson, letter to the UC Regents 1979.
I keep these letters from my father, Gregory Bateson to the University of California Regents close. While they are not personal mementos, they are beautiful treasures that speak deeply to me. They remind me how to think with a bigger heart, and bigger perspective. His wisdom in these pieces continues to be a source of both goodness in the world, and of dire warning. For those of us who consider ourselves “systems thinkers” I think these letters are worth studying. They illustrate a kind of perceptive reach into the meta-meanings of events and deeds that can otherwise be taken at more surface levels, and misunderstood.