A Bilateral World

This riddle is about a young man brought by ambulance into an Emergency ward.  He was in need of immediate surgery, but the surgeon on duty declined to perform his operation on the basis that the young man was immediate family even though the surgeon was neither his father nor grandfather.  Why?  If you figured out right away that the surgeon was his mother, then you are in the minority of men and women who actually remember we are in a bilateral world.

Two’s are everywhere: two eyes, two ears, two nostrils, two kidneys… You get the idea.  But we rarely apply the advantages of dual vision to our businesses, cities, countries or planet.  Instead we use an ill-defined mono-vision to view the world as a flat plane.  Multiple perspectives on the same focal point would yield more than just depth of field; they would reveal multiple dimensions of reality within the same focal zone.

When we find multiple dimensions in a given focal zone, it produces better farms, better markets, better factories, better banks, better homes, better vehicles, better schools, better hospitals, better courts, better police, better airports, better historical awareness, and better futures sensing.  Did I leave anything out?  Of course I did.  Make your own list.  In fact, make your own experiment.  Design something, anything: a tree house, a board game, a bridge, a meeting agenda – anything.  Then ask a group of six people as diversified as you can find (as long it has a bilateral balance of three women and three men), to critique the design of your tree house, board game, bridge or meeting agenda.  You will be richly rewarded.

The young man awoke in post-op having been attended by the alternate surgeon; and his mother, the primary surgeon, was at his bedside, stroking his hand, talking to him softly, doing what mothers do.

  1. Sara
    Sara says:

    Perhaps we should be talking of a multilateral world? I like the idea that multiple perspectives are built into our basic physical interaction with the world. But people often associate ‘twos’ with polarities that are irreconcilable. This, it seems, is precisely the false thinking we need to get beyond. To really get a complete picture of any object we need to look from at least six perspectives: from in front and behind, from the left and right sides, from above and below. This is certainly true in respect to realities and challenges in our globalised world, no?

    • Elaine Kathryn
      Elaine Kathryn says:

      Nice, provocative contribution. Thanks! I’d like to add the notion that reality can be viewed at multiple levels of “granularity” — like zooming in for more detail or out for more context. Most people are familiar with this feature on digital maps; some in the use of microscopes or telescopes. So the “bilateral” view is long-distance perspective on our planet where the contributions of womankind are most conspicuously under-represented in large decisions affecting political economy. The closer we get to the ground of daily reality, the more “multilateral” the perspectives become.


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