In his excellent book The Path of Least Resistance: Learning to Become the Creative Force in Your Own Life, author Robert Fritz explains that human beings, like water, will naturally follow the path of least resistance, and that the only way to change the path of a river is to change the direction of the riverbed. In other words, people and by extension systems have underlying structures that control them and the activities that occur within them. Winston Churchill described the same phenomenon when he said, “We shape our buildings and afterwards our buildings shape us.” Once we create walls and ceilings and doors, certain paths are created and others are prohibited. This isn’t a new idea. Marx wrote about base and superstructure — similar idea. Buckminster Fuller wrote,”Reform the environment, stop trying to reform the people. They will reform themselves if the environment is right.” This was what I was trying to say last month in my post about diversity: we need to change the river.
That essay spent a great deal of time talking about how “they,” the people in charge, must change their behavior — and why they don’t seem to be able to. Our understandable tendency is to focus on reforming people, instead of reshaping the environment, remolding the river’s bed, changing the base.
ArtsNash is delighted to feature articles from our partner The Clyde Fitch Report. The contributors to CFR cast their journalistic eyes on the worlds of arts and politics: Follow The Clyde Fitch Report on Facebook and Twitter. Scott Walters is the author of this article from his Interrobang?! series of columns.
Scott Walters is a Professor of Drama at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, as well as the founder of the Center for Rural Arts Development and Leadership Education (CRADLE). He is the long-time author of several blogs including Theatre Ideas and Creative Insubordination. He also writes for The Huffington Post, American Theatre magazine, and is the co-author of Introduction to Play Analysis. He lives in Bakersville, NC.
*Photo used on The Clyde Fitch Report via Noozhawk.