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Friday, 29 January 2016


Some of my recent blogs made me realise that several topics strongly relate to one another. At some time, the image of a tribal 'medicine man' popped up. I suppose that this role is the earliest form of a "staff department" within a hunter/gatherer community. Essentially, the tribal "medicine man" combines religion (gods of nature) and science (eg, medicine) in a preacher/teacher role.

In my view, the tribal specialisation of the "medicine man" was the first human attempt to gain a competitive advantage towards other tribes. Soon afterwards humankind discovered the equation "Knowledge = Power". One could very well argue that little - if anything - has changed since.

Even the ancient advanced cultures, like the Maya, still combined religion and science in one person. "The Mayan practice of astronomy was delegated to the ilhuica tlamatilizmatini, or "wise man who studies heaven". These priest-astronomers had a great amount of power, given the fact that they could essentially 'predict' the future. Their knowledge of the patterns of the sky, and of the mathematics that solves more complex patterns, led them to an exalted position in Mayan society". (source)

In fact, the distinction between religion and science is of a quite "recent" nature. Until several centuries ago, religion still provided the main scientists. Subsequently, most of the famous (Western) scientists came from (very) wealthy families. However, until the mid 1900s it was still common within (Catholic) families that one of the sons became a priest either from poverty or prestige.

Science has now evolved into a wide range of fields covering almost every conceivable topic. The downside of this ongoing scientific specialisation is that a "silo approach" has ruled for a long time. Interconnectedness - or multidisciplinary research - is only slowly returning. Quite recently, the very same has happened in my own field: the Risk Management domain has been carved out of the Finance domain and then created unconnected silos and each with an island mentality. The former interconnectedness between Finance and Risk - at CFO level - is largely gone.

The above could be visualised in the following diagram:

Note: The word pyramids is still in yellow as it's my interpretation of its (scientific) purpose. 

In my view, everything in life is connected whether we like it or not. Even apparent opposite forces like Religion and Science are connected - like yin and yang. Accumulating Knowledge can be used for gaining Power or Wisdom. Interconnectedness requires a balance (in life). Else we micromanage, lose focus on the bigger picture, and drift to one of the (extreme) edges of the 7 Belief systems.

In the Greek philosophy of Aristotle, this balance is called the Golden Mean. In Chinese philosophy of Confucius it's called the Doctrine of the Mean. In the Asian philosophy of Gautama Buddha, this concept is called the Middle Way.

For years, my life was out of balance and I found solace by successfully focusing on work. Then I hit the proverbial Brick Wall and "crashed". My writing has enabled me to get my life back in balance again, for which I am immensely grateful. Now I am looking (and waiting) for a new balance in life.

Jackson Browne - Lives in the Balance (1986) - artist, lyrics, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I've been waiting for something to happen
For a week or a month or a year

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