I have had a negative tone about systems in general. Early on, I mentioned that I do have an appreciation for things which actually are systems in a physical sense - the circulatory system, the solar system - and even for socially based systems, such as the legal system, or a school system. But I didn't mention it much after in my posts. Many of you make your living working with various technological systems, and while your pushback was mild and polite, I took notice that I was probably too negative about systems in general. They are neutral in many ways, or their faults are in their creators, not their mere existence.
I thank you and repent. I was responding to the current popular usages of systemic oppression or racism, or people complaining that The System is unfair, in both cases imagining some vast interconnected web. I fail to see how this differs from being a conspiracy theorist, except on a fairly minor point that it attributes slightly more weight to custom or tradition, and thus somewhat unconscious actors, than the usual conspiracy theory which relies on a belief in more intentional oppressors or disruptors. Even then, this is only a matter of degree and tendency. Both have both. It might pay to zip in the phrase "conspiracy" whenever you hear the word "systemic" and see if it fits in context. The people who believe in systemic problems will find this infuriating, certainly, because it is about the worst insult you could lay on them, from their perspective. They have considerable disdain for all conspiracy theorists. Yet the intensity of their feelings of rejection is not only not evidence for their point, it is a soft form of counter-evidence. Liberal fragility, if you will.
Most of you knew that this was my real target, and you seemed to take no offense as if I were hip-checking your professions into the boards on my way by. With all that limitation in mind, I pass along to you something from Dallas Willard that one of my readers and beer night pals sent along. It could be applied to systems as well as institutions.
The revolution of Jesus is in the first place and continuously a revolution of the human heart or spirit. It did not and does not proceed by means of the formation of social institutions and laws, the outer forms of our existence, intending that these would then impose a good order of life upon people who come under their power. Rather, his revolution of character, which proceeds by changing people from the inside through ongoing personal relationship to God in Christ and to one another. It is one that changes their ideas, beliefs, feelings, and habits of choice, as well as their bodily tendencies and social relations. It penetrates to the deepest layers of their soul.
That's a better version of what I have wanted to say all along.