Today I was reading a book on human anthropology and it was speaking about a term quote-a-miracle-is-when-the-whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts-a-miracle-is-when-one-frederick-buechner-42-99-05called synergy, a term commonly associated with the management studies and industrial strategy. The dictionary meaning goes like this, “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects”. It is connected to the commonly known principle that Whole > Sum of Parts. 

Science has already become a pioneer in this area. We had brilliant individual geniuses in science in the past; we still have them, but they work in larger groups today. The problems and issues to be solved and tackled are much larger than one genius can tackle. Many of the recent discoveries in physics, chemistry or biology attest to this aspect.

We have companies accepting this principle and they promote seemingly contrast ideas and thinking and trying to bring a synthesis from them. The multiple lines of thinking is promoted so that it is beneficial for the company’s growth. The mergers of companies specialized in different areas is another example.

But similar types of experiments need to happen in social sciences, spirituality and politics. They may be happening to some extend, but these fields could follow this example of science (which is also an adaptation of the traditional wisdom). It is surprising that the world where people are supposedly becoming more individualistic are following the principles of synergy.

quote-synergy-is-the-highest-activity-of-life-it-creates-new-untapped-alternatives-it-values-stephen-covey-53-48-84Today we have problems like violence, poverty, growing inequality, religious fundamentalism and many more. What are the strategies adopted to counter them? I think it is one-dimensional many a times. That is because the wisdom of different communities, groups, ages are not used to create an alternative narrative of peace. It may be very easy to say, but difficult to put into practice. But that, I feel, is the need of the hour.

When we look into the entire area of spirituality, here too synergy is required. The experiences and wisdom of priests/nuns/spiritually oriented lay persons alone are not enough. The wisdom of different types of people and different types of spiritual experiences in varying conditions have to be used in synergy to build a dynamic and ever changing spirituality and understanding of God, which is always growing. I as a Catholic, can not only learn from non-catholics, but also from non-Christians and even from atheists. That openness to accept radically opposite ideas/visions can be a great help. I surely needn’t loose my identity in this process; I don’t cease to be a Christian/Catholic, but I evolve into a better Christian and Catholic.

Just as I wrote in yesterday’s blog entry, the leavers’ wisdom and takers’ knowledge should be synthesized for a development that is holistic and beneficial for all the sections of society.

A personal area where synergy could work is the area of feelings and thoughts. We have positive and negative feelings and thoughts. Morality sometimes say just throw away negative stuff. If we just throw away, it will come more strongly tomorrow. Can we try to synergize them to see the bigger picture.


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