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.
The natural process of fluid dynamics is for things to flow in the direction of the most freedom. And aside from some bits of bone and scattered particles of heavy metals, human beings are fluid creatures (were about 60% water!), and thus when we human beings move, we naturally move towards the most broad, open, and available place. Of course, that place may be physical, and it can also be emotional, intellectual, and/or spiritual, because we humans have the capacity to not just move our bodies, but our hearts, our minds, and whole cultures, as well.
So you can see that what kind of person we become in life will have a huge amount to do with what paths open up to us as we are making our way through life.
As a child, most of the time the spaces that were most open, broad, and available to me just happened to be science and nature books and magazines, photography, and all kinds of science fiction and fantasy stories on television, along with, at least for a few critical years, my local woods, treehouses, and the very quiet, cold, and rocky beach just down the hill from my house on good old Madokawando Landing on the beautiful and rugged Maine coast. So these are the places my self flowed the most, giving me a unique personality that is an odd mixture of geeky philosopher, artist, and wild woman of the North.
How about you? Where were you allowed to flow?
This thing we call genius comes about through nothing more complicated than a healthy dose of basic resources. And everyone from the tiniest baby to the elders of the world has at least a bit of genius in them, just waiting for the time, space, and simple necessities of life to appear so that the brilliance that is the spirit of all beings can, through the hands and heart and mind of the self, find form in some manner of sensually expressive medium.
“On a closer examination, it seems as though, in the case of a genius, the will to live, which is the spirit of the human species, were conscious of having, by some rare chance, and for a brief period, attained a greater clearness of vision, and were now trying to secure it, or at least the outcome of it, for the whole species, to which the individual genius in his inmost being belongs; so that the light which he sheds about him may pierce the darkness and dullness of ordinary human consciousness and there produce some good effect.
Arising in some such way, this instinct drives the genius to carry his work to completion, without thinking of reward or applause or sympathy; to leave all care for his own personal welfare; to make his life one of industrious solitude, and to strain his faculties to the utmost. He thus comes to think more about posterity than about contemporaries; because, while the latter can only lead him astray, posterity forms the majority of the species, and time will gradually bring the discerning few who can appreciate him… His work is, as it were, a sacred object and the true fruit of his life, and his aim in storing it away for a more discerning posterity will be to make it the property of mankind. An aim like this far surpasses all others, and for it he wears the crown of thorns which is one day to bloom into a wreath of laurel. All his powers are concentrated in the effort to complete and secure his work; just as the insect, in the last stage of its development, uses its whole strength on behalf of a brood it will never live to see; it puts its eggs in some place of safety, where, as it well knows, the young will one day find life and nourishment, and then dies in confidence.”
Imagine a future which offers everyone, everywhere, those most basic resources that they need, to reach their own stages of genius, so that everyone has the opportunity to create their own sacred fruits of brilliance to will to the future children of our world…
Yep, people talk.
And there isn’t a damned thing we can do about it.
We cherish freedom of speech, and eventually we realize that while we may not appreciate everyone’s opinion, everyone does have an opinion, and if we honestly want people to think for themselves, then it’s absolutely required that people be encouraged to have their own opinions, and if we don’t want people to be repressed to the point of exploding sociopathically, then we also realize that people need to be allowed, and even encouraged, to express their opinions.
And, rather than just tolerating people’s opinions, we can actually learn to recognize that people talking is a wonderful resource. When people talk, they are giving you the gift of information. And when they talk about you, whether they are gossiping and complaining about you or complementing and thanking you, they are offering you the resource of understanding what is, literally, so remarkable about you. And when you pay attention to what kinds of things people are talking about you for, you will start to understand the ways you are most valuable to others. Because even if the way they express it isn’t so positive, they clearly think you are valuable enough to spend their time and energy talking about, and you can do a little analysis to figure out what it is that they are most excited about, so that you can understand the underlying positive message in their communication.
For example, with me, there are three main things that people tend to talk about when my name comes up. Now, people’s opinions of me are not always so polite or positive or gracious, but they are always gifts to me because I get to see the things people find most fascinating about me, and those are the very things that most make me stand out from the average, that make me exceptional, that make me remarkable and well worth talking about.
The things people seem to find most remarkable about me are:
1. I have a highly unconventional way of thinking.
2. I honestly love my husband unconditionally, and have given him the whole of my heart in a way that no one else has, even through some of the most difficult marital challenges anyone has ever faced.
3. I’m continuing the work of Abraham Maslow and updating his hierarchy of needs by using the patterns of biology, psychology, physics, math, and so on to clarify the specific kinds of resources that humans need to be their best so that they can create the most good, true, beautiful, and inspiring things for the world.
But I’m only just now starting to figure out how to use this information people are offering me about how I’m remarkable. I’m just beginning to explore how I can use these gifts of gab to help me do more of what I love, which is helping people, especially my husband, find what they need, to love their world and their life.
I now realize that people talking is a huge resource that is just sitting there waiting to be tapped, and maybe now you too can see the value of this kind of information, even if it takes a bit of translating to get to the real meaning of what it is that people find so remarkable.
What is a story? I mean, really, what are the unique components that make up this particular thing that we call “story”.
Well, one way to look at it is that a story is a pattern, a process, the way a relationship between things changes over time. Thus, a story requires at least two elements that interact.
And the most basic kinds of interactions we find in the universe are:
1. A gets something from B
A ← B
1. B gets something from A
A → B
3. A and B exchange things.
A ↔ B
4. Neither A nor B get anything.
The adult human brain tends to prefer the third kind of story the best, which is why the common idea of direct monetary exchanges came about. It’s easy to tell a story about an exchange between A and B if you use numbers and elementary school arithmetic. But these stories of quantity exchange get pretty dull after a while, don’t they? We may like the easy life for a while, but eventually we come to crave quality, meaning, excitement, and challenge, and we also sometimes can’t find a satisfying way to quantify the things we have to offer, so we start creating stories, in both real life and just in our heads, where we are pirates stealing treasure (story number 1), or we are wealthy philanthropists or superheroes saving the world (story number 2), and even sometimes a little of both for a Robin Hood style story of stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
And occasionally, when we’re feeling totally overwhelmed, we like to tell stories where we are just sitting there like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern waiting forlornly for their Godot (story 4).
And, eventually, even all those kinds of stories become dull, and we look for some fifth kind of tale to amuse ourselves.
In which case, we might just start telling stories where A and B collaboratively merge to create something entirely new, which they then offer to C, and then wait patiently for the rest of the story to unfold…