Friday, August 5, 2016

the opposite is most likely

Ipcha Mistabra

First the history (?) lesson:
From what I can tell, this is the real version of World War Z's Israeli 10th Man rule. After the war in 1973 when Israel was caught by surprise, a unit was formed to serve as devil's advocate. Sometimes refereed to as the Red Unit or Ipcha Mistabra.

Ipcha Mistabra is an Aramaic phrase found in the Talmud and means: the opposite is most likely.

The point of the unit is sanctioned opposition. It limits the transgressions that group think and emotional contagion can cause - like presuming a level of security that does not exist (and then getting caught with your proverbial pants down with devastating consequences).

The question:

Does it take tragedy to see the value of an Ipcha Mistrabra unit, person, or allowing dissenting ideas to be accepted within a tribe? Do we need a Yom Kippur War (Israel-1973), or a 911 before we make space for this? And, if we make room for the movie's version, a 10th Man rule, is there a point where we feel we no longer need it? Is dismissing it dangerous or common sense?

Within an organization v. a nation, does an organization need to implode first? Is it a mandate of human nature that we punish, squash, silence disagreement or voices that say...hey, I wonder if maybe the opposite is true? Is banishment & shunning our only option when someone has a different take? And this is can be literal, but we banish and shun all the time in subtle ways all the while holding the target of our correction to the rules we are banishing them for breaking.

Humans like to be right. I like to be right. So do you. It feels affirming to be right. And we want to dismiss dissent or disagreement because it threatens our need for confirmation that we might actually have a clue. Can we be disciplined enough to have deep enough dialogue such that an Ipcha Mistabra gets enough air time to be considered? It doesn't even have to be pretty. The monkeys can share their grievances even, in fact, one the best mediation systems around invites the monkey brain arguments and upsets to the table as the first step in reaching resolution (The Quaker's have this one down).

I think tribes prefer the black and white thinking of regulation and protocol because it is fundamentally easier than the alternative. And it is fundamentally easier. The alternative requires time and dialogue and thinking and discussion and decision making and...time.

When we create space for all that possibility our plumb lines risk getting fuzzy. We hold a hard line on pedophilia for example - we think it's really, really wrong. I'm good with that opinion and with the rules that enforce it. The North American Man/Boy Love Association disagrees. I don't want to give them the privilege of a ipcha mistabra seat at my table. It's a hard line for me but you might disagree...a rule, a regulation means we don't have to talk about it. I'm right. You're wrong.

It's easier to set up a rule. It feels safer. Thinking can be dangerous. Considering dissenting perspectives can be dangerous too. And if anything, humans will default to what requires the least effort to accomplish a task. It's why we have dishwashers and someone has invented a machine to fold the laundry.

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