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A 1st Class Perspective

A better understanding
I recently talked to someone who is into medical research and has a better understanding of how to be safe around other people during the COVID-19 pandemic. I brought up the issue of how to be safe on public transport when we (soon will) wear homemade or low-grade facemasks that offer little protection and we cannot keep enough distance from other people. Opinions are very divided on the topic of safety depending on the perspective that people take.

Clarity on perspective
The answer I received was that you probably would be okay if you traveled first class when possible. Ah, a 1st class perspective I thought! How interesting. Perspective-taking is the issue when we talk about the topic of safety. The lack of perspective-taking keeps people divided. I think that everyone values personal safety. It is just that some will feel safer than others and so the requirements to keep safe will differ.

Same issue, different perspectives
We very much see this reflected in the attitudes people have depending on their age. Where the young seem to have a general idea that they are immune, the elderly and the weak experience this as a life-threatening situation. And rightly so. The consequences of catching this virus seem in general to be very different for both groups.

The question behind the debate
The real question then doesn’t seem to be what is true about safety but how we take care of each other at this time. It requires understanding and respecting different perspectives. Even when your safety is not a concern, are you willing to take the precautions that others need to be safe?

Cultural perspectives
In a previous blog, I talked about the different perspectives we have depending on our cultural development and used the theory of Spiral Dynamics to explain this. In this blog, I explained that in an Orange entrepreneurial culture we each have to fend for ourselves. The extreme consequences of this we see in the USA today. Europe is mostly Orange but not as bright as the USA. Most countries have a better social system in which the government offers a form of support when times are tough and we are going through an economic downturn. The state, church, army, etc. caring for you is a Blue top-down culture. You will be okay but you do need to step in line and obey the rules. The Blue culture preceded the Orange and in times of need, we see the call for more Blue, whereas when things go well in times of prosperity we see a rising demand for Orange personal freedom.

When I look at the debates people have, they seem to be unaware that the difference in perspective is caused by the different situations people find themselves in which leads to either a demand for more support, freedom, or both.

It is understandable that perspective-taking happens from what you know and are familiar with and it is much harder to feel into a perspective you don’t know and are not familiar with. A 1st Class perspective may be nice but not fit everyone’s wallet and certainly when we would start flying again. To make things work again we may need to develop a Green culture. Instead of individually deciding what works for yourself we may need to start thinking about what will work for us all. We will need to become skilled at perspective-taking if we want to make that transition from Orange to Green work and create a collaborative culture.