Herman Melville's Perspective

It can be useful – even comforting – to remember that current issues, and their solutions, have been with us for some time. As a reminder that globalisation — and resistance to it – is more than a recent phenomenon, see the entertaining summary of Hermann Melville’s views at https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2019/07/18/born-200-years-ago-herman-melville-was-globalisations-first-great-bard

Plenty of 20th and 21st century research and experience tells us that one important and effective way to reduce racism and cultural prejudice is to simply spend a lot of time with those who are different. The more time we spend together, the more we come to see the similarities – the common humanity that connects us — and the less the differences matter.

Another is to have common goals. Working together towards a mutual goal with the ability to use both/and thinking leads to what Melville describes as an outcome where “neither was wrong, but both right.” The article quotes Melville as promoting travel as a way of reducing bias: by experiencing “several hundred millions of people of all shades of colour.” The more we step out of our bubbles – whether as 19thcentury sailors, or 21st century citizens – to meet, spend time, and work with our fellow travellers on this earth, the better we will bring the benefits of all perspectives to finding solutions for our workplaces and our planet.

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