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Information Ecology

I'm still going on about the paper published by The Mindfulness Initiative ("TMI") titled: Mindfulness: Developing Agency In Urgent Times-- its really quite good, and its available free-of-charge, on-line. The video summarizing the substance of the paper (tip of the hat to Rosie Ball and Jamie Bristow), is also tremendous-- it's from that summary that I picked up the phrase, "information ecology".

To state the obvious, the information we attend to-- that we draw upon in marshalling arguments (heads up, lawyers), and understanding the world -- is information of which we should be knowledgeable and, well, mindful. Beginning with a quote from Iain Gilchrist (an English psychiatrist and writer), Section 2.1 of the TMI paper tackles the challenge of integrating what it dubs, "two modes of mind", with the following statement: "Our talent for division, for seeing the parts, is of staggering importance-- second only to our capacity to transcend it, in order to see the whole".

In a perfect world, lawyers, "see the whole". Regretably, however, far too many fall back upon our, "talent for division, for seeing the parts". Predictability (a lay term for what lawyers call stare decisis ) tends to be rather rigid, and unfortunately, encourages lawyers to err on the side of seeing the parts, rather than seeing the whole. That's the price of predictability.

For decades, I was guilty of the same but I have to say, anecdotally, my experience was that a lot of judges (and even some opposing counsel) grew increasingly affected by arguments based upon the big picture (the whole), rather than the little picture (selected parts), in the years prior to my retirement. As the old adage teaches us, hope springs, eternal.

The world-- not to mention our courtrooms-- would be well served if more of us made an effort to expand our information ecology!


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