Werner tells us that context generates process. A contextually-generated process aligns the existing forces within the context. Then the aligned forces provide a condition of workability.
Werner Erhard, The End of Starvation: Creating an Idea Whose Time Has Come. 1977, at http://www.wernererhard.net/thpsource.html
In a newly-created context the most important position is the position, “It can’t be done.” That is the first and most important content to be processed, to be realigned. Anyone who has created a context knows that context generates process; process in turn grinds up content, it changes content so that it becomes aligned with the context.
In the building of “A man on the moon in 10 years,” the skeptics and cynics were working on “It can’t be done” in the context of doing it, so that instead of being a threat or a stop to the goal, suddenly their skepticism and cynicism started contributing to the achievement of the goal.
All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come. Context generates process. A contextually-generated process transcends the existing forces; it transforms those forces. A contextually-generated process aligns the existing forces within the context. Then the aligned forces provide a condition of workability.
Every action taken in a context is a fulfillment of, an expression of, and a manifestation of that context. The pessimism, the cynicism, the position, “It can’t be done,” are ground up by the process generated by the context, and are transformed into the material out of which the result is achieved.
When an idea is transformed so that the apparently opposing idea actually validates and gives expression to the idea, then it is an idea whose time has come. Pretty soon the it-can’t-be-done people became aligned. They were still skeptics (that’s their nature), they were still cynics (that’s their nature), but they were suddenly now cynical and skeptical and in alignment with the context called “A man on the moon in 10 years.”
Then they just moved out of the way and the new office in the front of the building was: “You can’t put a man on the moon without this specific kind of metal and we don’t have this specific kind of metal.”
As we all know, the metals were invented and produced. Then what moved up was: “But you don’t know whether to do it with high technology or high energy.” We know that that one was resolved. The Russians said high energy. The United States said high technology. It didn’t make any difference. Within the context of putting a man on the moon in 10 years, either one of the solutions would have worked.
Unlike the problem of hunger, in which solutions already exist, there were no solutions to the problem of getting a man to the moon in 1961. President Kennedy created a context called “A man on the moon in 10 years,” and out of that context, in which the question of feasibility was merely one of many positions within the context, came the workable solution: the Congressional approval, appropriations of money, technological breakthroughs, NASA, and, ultimately, men on the moon. Before then, space travel was not possible because the attempts to make it real existed in a condition of unworkability.
In 1961, the people all the way in the back of the building called “A man on the moon in 10 years” were optimists. Much less than 10 years later they had the first office, the office of “it will be done.” In 1969, it was done.
The Position “It will be done” and the position “You can’t do it” are merely positions within the context of “A man on the moon in 10 years” B or within the context of “The end of hunger and starvation on this planet in two decades.”
The Hunger Project should not be compared literally with the space project. It is the power of a context to cause an idea’s time to come that is analogous; nothing else.
The Context of an End to World Hunger
Within two months of the initiation of The Hunger Project, the National Academy of Sciences published a report based on a two-year study announcing that we have the ability to end hunger and starvation on the planet in two decades. The report stressed that a key factor in ending hunger is the will to reach that goal. As you can see, the facts support that the end of hunger and starvation is an idea whose time has come.
A month after The Hunger Project was initiated I was in Honolulu having dinner. The man sitting on my left was a retired aerospace executive. He had been so successful that he became a consultant. Then he’d become even more successful and he retired.
He was polite. He listened to my whole presentation, and finally he got so riled up that he stood up and shouted: “I am tired of listening to people talk about hunger who don’t know anything about it! What are you going to do about hunger? You can’t end hunger with words! You’ve got to do something!”
At that point everything calmed down a bit. I stood up, to even the game out a bit so people at the table wouldn’t feel strange, and I said: “You know something? You’re right. And we’d like to invite you to be the person in The Hunger Project responsible for, ‘You’ve got to do something.”‘
The point is not that I somehow one-upped him, but that his annoyance and apparent opposition were simply signs of frustration at his inability to affect a situation that he cared about very much. Since that evening, he has gone out of his way to support The Hunger Project.
Let’s not be stupid. Obviously, something has to be done. Anybody can see that. When people say, “But don’t you see that you can’t end starvation with words?” that’s like saying, “Don’t you see the floor down there?” Of course, but that isn’t the point of The Hunger Project. Everybody sees that something has to be done. The point is to create a climate, an environment (specifically to create a context, a commitment to the end of starvation) in which what is done is effective.
Instead of the condition in the world creating lines of force running horizontally and our activities to eliminate hunger running vertically, the context will generate a process to realign the forces so that the lines of force start running vertically. Then, within a realigned set of forces, what you did that didn’t work before suddenly works. It’s the same thing you were doing before, except that suddenly it now works. Every action taken in a context becomes a fulfillment of, an expression of, and manifestation of that context. In that context your intention to end starvation can be realized.
The Hunger Project is not something more to do. It is not something better than what is being done. It is not some new and different and wonderful thing which makes everything in the past obsolete. No. The Hunger Project is about causing the end of hunger and starvation on the planet in two decades to be an idea whose time has come, by causing the end of hunger and starvation in two decades to exist as a context for what we do and for the process of decision and discussion by which we arrive at what to do.
(To be continued tomorrow)