Dr Niki Harre on The Infinite Game vs The Finite Game, Conscious Choices and Strategies

Interviewed by

Tim Lynch

Dr Niki Harre on The Infinite Game vs The Finite Game, Conscious Choices and Strategies

I have just finished a grassroots interview with Niki Harre, a leading academic at Auckland University - involved in psychology and sustainable ecological solutions.

During this interview, we talked about how she enjoys her immersion into evolving positive change with her local community at the Point Chevalier Transition Towns group, where she finds an active group of localised participators intent on walking their talk.

Because, she sees that there is a movement happening - one without a capital ‘m’ but, it’s a fundamental movement all the same.

For example, they have the following active sub-groups up and running: The Old Homestead Community Garden with the Dignan Street Community Garden Hub, and the Bulk Purchasing Group.

Then there is our Resource Pool for community members who would like to borrow mulchers, hoes, juicers etc.

They also have set up recycling for soft plastics at Pt Chevalier Primary School, Te Ra Road - to avoid this going into landfill - as well as a social calendar, that includes local areas in the larger community.

However, as an academic at Auckland University it is in the strategies as well as the processes that are enacted that Niki finds fulfilling, because she sees that there is a stirring within localised community a movement of connection happening - one that involves the neighbours like as mentioned before yet, without a capital ‘m’ but, it’s a grassroots movement all the same.

It’s when we act in our daily lives, whenever we’re doing things alone or are members of organisations following an evolutionary pathway that; just as when cells come together in greater self organising numbers be it growing from clusters of cells and evolving organs to bodies right up to organisations, when we are involved be it politically or not - ‘at every single level - we are creating the world.’

Like every morning, we wake up we start creating the world - such as how we get to work, how we interrelate with our colleagues, how we relate to our children - the party we vote for, wherever or not we go out and clean the local street - all of it, is part of creating the world.

So Niki is wanting to know how, in our efforts do we - become more integrated as possible - from the depths of our heart as well as acting in the political realm even at a localised level - and how do we recognise the actions that are beneficial and those that are problematic - it’s a hard task but to Niki it’s the task of being an activist.

And at a collective level, she considers the conversation we need to engage in - like what are we exactly endeavouring to do or create? That most people are recognising that ‘ecological and human flourishing’ are the twin pillars that go absolutely hand in hand - so the focus is really coming back to ask - how do people work and play together in the spirit of life?

Then when she asks herself what are the key critical features to this quest?

They are - individual expressions which leads to diversity, which is giving of our best selves - giving of our peak essence and the other part is ‘community and cooperation.’

Just like when seeing a forest - it will have many, many species, and be very diverse at every level of biota, yet all those species will be living and doing in a form of co-operation, whilst all their different actions work towards having all the other species flourishing as well.

Each species ‘having its niche’ and fitting in.

It’s all about relationship.

The Infinite and the Finite Games

Niki explores the ‘Infinite and the Finite Games’ - as put together by philosopher James Carse.

Life is comprised of at least two kinds of games. One is finite games, in which the object is to win and the other is infinite games in which the object is to keep the game in play. Finite games have boundaries, include only select players and have rules that must not change for the duration of the game.

In contrast, infinite games have horizons that move as the player moves, welcome everyone into the game and the rules must change over time or the game will cease. In fact, when infinite players sense another player is about to lose, they attempt to change the rules to prevent this. Would you like to play?

To look at things in another way:

When parents bring children into the world, their babies are their treasures. Mum & Dad will do their utmost to make sure that their little ones are loved and cared for with totally, dedicated mindfulness.

Yet, to fulfil these aspirations, in most cases they have found themselves as the proverbial ingredients in a sandwich - that to survive in our Neo Liberal economic game plan, certain sacrifices have to be made.

When seen in this context - the tragedy of our time isn’t just all the damage we are doing to each other and our planet, it is that we aren’t even having much fun doing so. We’ve become stuck, too busy winning to listen to our hearts and each other.

Nevertheless, today we are witnessing new ways of doing and living that are now finally being articulated from that of a perceptive, psychological understanding. It is clearly showing us positive options that enhance relationships, pull the strands of community closer and enable us to strategize a way of resolving the challenges of survival.

Most of all, it is empowering us to involve ourselves into a new paradigm of ecological sustainability, peace and goodwill, and that which we at heart - all aspire to.

For it is now possible for us to change. The infinite game is right here, almost within our grasp, and everyone is invited.

If you want to play the infinite game or learn more go to www.infinite-game.net.

If you wish to listen into an ebullient and engaging conversation of emancipative possibilities and reinvigorating your life and your community - this intelligent and encouraging discussion with Niki, may very well stimulate you to take another step further. To really let you know that within your community, there are many unique and exceptional people plus prospective friends expressing their virtues in a way that is making the world and that of our children a place where we can find happiness, security and connection.

Have a listen as to how we can join the dots to a positive and fulfilling life.

Niki Harre is an associate Dean of Sustainability from Auckland University and has been involved in innovative ways to enable people to become engaged in the process of taking care of our common future, especially from the point of view of sustainability in an ecological context and in particular that which promotes human well being .

However, as an Associate Professor in Psychology - she is also very much involved in firing up one’s imagination so to enable people to realise that we can be the change in the world that we want to see. That we can shape our world in a positive way - if we all work both individually and together in community for the betterment of the whole.

Her book Psychology for a better world gives us insights and encouragement to become involved in our future, both on a local and a global level. It can also be downloaded for free. 
https://www.psych.auckland.ac.nz/en/about/our-staff/academic-staff/niki-harre/psychologyforabetterworld.html


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Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'

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