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Separation of knowing and doing

Posted by Peter Donovan 4 years, 7 months ago in policy and framing /

This cartoon by Zach Weinersmith from "Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal" is a vivid example of the habitual separation of knowing and doing in our institutions and in life generally.

get me a scientist

Similar stories might be told about some U.S. efforts to slow soil erosion, nutrient runoff into rivers and lakes, and on and on.
Here's another powerful cartoon by the great Hungarian-French cartoonist and illustrator Andre Francois, again on the topic of the separation of knowing and doing.  
One of the things I love about this cartoon is that the figure on the lower left seems to represent a position somewhat between the "insiders"—the painter, and those who are crowding around the painting—and a more detached view, an intermediary between those of us who look at this picture, and those it is depicting. And yet this witness is frozen, inactive, and probably in turmoil. An invitation to reflect!
What is electrifying in this picture is the physical closeness between the person drowning and those around the painter. It's not some distant catastrophe, like a school shooting in Florida, a suicide bomber in Kabul, or soil degradation somewhere else, for which we might have little influence, no ready solution or fix. The broken feedback loop—no help for the drowning person—becomes vivid, and a kind of self-accusation for the illustrator as well as for all of us. The circle of influence, to use Stephen Covey's terms from 7 Habits, is close to the circle of concern but there is almost no overlap!