Archive for February, 2010
At some point our legal system got way, way, way out of control. It got so huge and complicated that even most lawyers and police officers as well as the general public all believe that the laws have become more trouble than they are worth, and now the legal system has gotten so harmful that it sucks up far too many of our most precious resources, including human lives, with almost no one truly benefiting, except in very superficial and unsustainable ways.
Instead of the current failing legal system, I propose a simple three-fold constitution – a real Prime Directive for a very living planet Earth. I propose three laws, based on the three basic active processes of relationships – receiving, giving, and conflicting.
Seriously, in this real version of the Prime Directive, we have just three laws, and that’s it!
Law 1. Unconditional Basic Needs Input – You have a right to all the basic physiological needs for health: nutritious food, pure water, fresh air, comfortable warmth, and access to daylight, and if you cannot get enough of these needs on your own to be physically healthy, then the government is responsible for helping you obtain them, starting with the most local level of government, and progressing up through the next levels of government if necessary.
Law 2. Conditional Basic Freedoms Output – You have a right to express yourself physically, emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, and the government is responsible for helping create three designated arenas for self-expression that are the most agreeable to the local community.
Law 3. Mutually Beneficial Conflict Resolution – If you ever have a conflict with another individual or group of any kind, and if you and they can’t come to a mutually agreeable solution to your conflict, then the government is responsible for providing you with mediation services that have the goal of a mutually agreeable solution. The mediation services are to be provided starting at the most local level of government, and progressing up through the next levels of government if necessary.
Basically, in this real Prime Directive, just like the later version in Star Trek, the idea is for government to stay out of the way unless specifically asked for help, which they are expected to provide whenever possible, and it’s the local government that is in charge of helping the locals. It’s only when the local government needs help that the higher levels of government are expected to get involved and offer whatever assistance it can. (The one addition to this real Prime Directive is that higher levels of government are allowed, and even expected to get involved even in the case of civil conflicts within and between local governments, if they are asked to do so.) All other government functions and problem solving approaches are done on a case by case basis, and not by any overarching laws.
This simple solution already works really well in many groups (think: good schools, healthy families, and successful teams), and is the approach that humans most often seek out when groups are allowed to evolve naturally, even if we aren’t consciously aware of these instinctive rules. We naturally thrive when the rules are simple and flexible and appropriate for our own needs, and when we are allowed the freedom to either try to solve our own problems, or to seek out compassionate, efficient, fair, and wise advisers to help us problem solve, because when we notice that we have been taken good care of by our environment, we are naturally driven to return the favor, by taking good care of our environment.
From what I can tell, this is a government and legal system that a healthy Living Economy naturally evolves into. And the way we leaders and activists can help transition the whole world into this healthy and sustainable Prime Directive, in the most logical and effective way, is by starting with our own groups, clearly defining these standards as our own most important directive wherever we are in a position to do so. And then we continue the transition by promoting law number one – the right to basic physiological needs, unconditionally – at the very top level of government. Then, once that is in place, we promote law number two – the right to express oneself, conditionally – at the very top level of government. And then once that is in place, we promote the option for using the mediation system in addition to the option for using the established legal system, as we allow people to see the value of law number three.
Using this double-ended strategy of working for both bottom up and top down change uses the least amount of resources to get the most effect because the fewest number of individuals are at the extremes of society. That means that fewer individuals need to be convinced because once convinced those individuals will naturally take over the role of the change agents as they begin to spread the good ideas to the masses in the middle, eventually bringing the healthy Prime Directive to all levels of society.
In the expanded (iterated) version of the classic game theory experiment of Prisoners’ Dilemma, where there are multiple moves, we discover that the most successful strategy for artificial, emotionless prisoners (the computer programs that they use to test the games) is generally “an eye for an eye”, with just a hint of friendliness to begin with. This “most successful” computer program starts out with a collaborative move, and then uses mirroring to respond to the other prisoner’s subsequent moves. Which means that the program would start out collaborating with the other program, and then if the other program collaborated too, the program would again collaborate in return, but if the other program didn’t collaborate, then the program would similarly not collaborate in response, and so on, with the program continuing to play follow-the-leader, with the other program as the leader.
Of course we social animals function rather differently than emotionless computers, and we have a natural, genetic inclination towards collaboration, because of the simple, practical fact that we have a much easier time in life when we don’t create enemies who work against us, and when we instead create friends who help us get our needs met. Because we have this added ability to feel emotions (empathy), having enemies just plain stresses us out. We are naturally uncomfortable when others around us are suffering. So the mostly mechanical strategy of an eye for an eye, even with the initial facade of compassion, just doesn’t cut it in the real world of social life.
Which is why, when we find ourselves in real-world dilemmas like this, where we have the opportunity to collaborate to achieve a mutually beneficial goal, we find that while we still tend to play follow the leader more often than not due to our unconscious, unemotional, mechanistic brains, but we also have an equally strong emotional inclination to make things better for ourselves and our fellow Earthlings by choosing not to blindly follow, and instead becoming the leader and leading others generously and compassionately, with the hopes that others will, either mechanistically, or consciously, follow us in collaboration.
We humans, with our capacity for emotion, do indeed have the ability to rise above, to forgive, and to be truly compassionate leaders who consciously create something newer and better, rather than just being mechanistic eye-for-an-eye followers.
So… where have you broken out of the mechanistic loop and risen above it all?
We are frequently inclined to offer our spare physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual resources to those who we believe are capable of using them to make our world even better.
And you can take a look at the list of individuals to whom you freely offer your extra resources, and then spend a bit of time considering what it is they are doing that you believe is so valuable. Because once you understand how these folks are using your gifts to make your world more good, true, beautiful, and inspiring – once you are clear about their own unique alchemy – you can be very specific in offering them your gratitude, so that they not only know that you do appreciate them, but also so they know how they are most remarkable.