We are all aware of the frictions that have surfaced in recent years leading to a number of terrorist acts and several wars. Are these issues systematic of the growing pains of a globalised world with increased access to knowledge through interconnectivity or are they the results of human social requirements for organisational cohesion?
Both views can be argued convincingly although I believe that the pressure of globalised economic framework creates disparity between nations and highlights differences between sections of society. The fault lines of this friction often lie between distinct (or distinctive) social groups. As the world has become more connected we have witnessed the shrinking of “Big” states and considerable pressure for independence of devolution of power.
Some may say that this is a growing requirement of empowerment or perhaps it’s a deeper social need to associate with others who you strongly relate to. This is not simply a case of ethnicity or language. As history teaches us strong empires have developed across these boundaries, I believe it is an issue of leadership.
I believe that societies have a range of needs, fundamentally they need to belong to something that is bigger than them, yes it needs to have benefits but also a big idea – a binding narrative. This is something that everyone can subscribe to and to some extent place ahead of there own needs, something that individuals within that society understand is central to the existence of that society and defines the actions and purpose.
The articulation of a binding narrative is a central leadership function, many historical great figures have stood out as people who have captured the imagination of the wider population and galvanised action.
Perhaps we associate binding narratives too closely with incremental change such as civil rights or war leaders without thinking about the fundamental requirements of social stability – perhaps our leaders have been too short term and tactical?
Where does the binding narrative come from, fundamentally societies exist for a purpose, over time they develop norms, rules and customs, these evolve into more developed social systems such as laws, taxation, religious perspectives – it can be debated what comes first and the field of social evolution is a complex area. However societies have values that are distinct and take time to evolve, binding narratives reflect these and deeply help beliefs and resonates across age, gender and ethnicity and become central to the sustainability of the society itself.