Wednesday, February 22, 2012



The metaphors that surround our common embodiment highlight the
problems created by the right/wrong, either/or model. The cult of
opposition that so much of the world is locked in not only is out of
step with global interconnectivity, it’s dangerous. In the image of
our world as a body of interconnected and interdependent systems, this
internal opposition should be seen like an autoimmune disease, parts
of the organism attacking itself. Trying to control or appropriate
parts of the body begins with the erroneous mindset that is
disconnected from the whole that supports it.
Likewise the disproportionate enlargement of one part of the body,
a few absorbing all the resources meant to nourish the whole, can be
seen as a tumor, a malignancy intent on serving its own interests.
Enormous wealth in just a few places is the image of a badly diseased
whole. In our physical body, surgery would be necessary to rescue the
whole from the parts that have run amuck. To limit the damage created
by the excess wealth tumor why not add three more tax brackets at the
upper end? The ones we have are out of date. By dramatically taxing
higher as the numbers get more excessive there wouldn’t be as much
incentive to be greedy. Make it impossible for the tumor to grow past
a point where it drains the energy of the whole.
The “Occupy” movement has made clear that this is an area of
common ground. The 99% sees an article in the Wall Street Journal,
“Living Very Large”, with a picture of an obscenely large mansion, and
feels sick, the natural reaction to disease. We feel our connection to
the world body and sense what’s out of balance, where proportions are
way off. Conscious awareness of that kind of belonging could break the
habit of oppositional attitudes with the realization that cooperation
is the way of the body, growing through our contribution to the
flourishing and evolution of the whole. Though competition may offer
an adrenalin rush, helping others stimulates endorphins, the natural
opiates meant to reinforce beneficial behavior. If we help someone
else, offer our attention to a cooperative goal, we feel good. It’s
meant to encourage us to keep doing that, mindful of the wellbeing of
the whole. Scanning the world body with an eye to the health of all
the systems, attending to sickness and imbalance with the
participation of the areas affected is the only way to get back in
balance. Through our embodiment we understand that excess is
unhealthy, it overloads the system and strains connected systems. Our
ability to limit, both consciously and through what the body rejects
on its own, is one of our most highly evolved powers.
Restraint enables us to accumulate energy. It keeps reactive and
instinctive behaviors subdued until they can be thoughtfully
considered. Limiting the size of corporations, the size of individual
wealth, limiting any area given to excess, is following the example of
the human body. It’s a model sufficiently complex to hold the
multivariable modern world, a reasonable frame for approaching the
problems created by an overloaded machine.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Through the Shell

Underlying Images

A belief system is a structure that organizes thought. It may have
been planted by religion or by a culture. It’s an inner image with a
system of relations that can be easily visualized. In this way every
philosophy is visual, details can vary but relations between them hold
the meaning. If we aren’t aware of the underlying structure it still
shapes our thinking unconsciously.
Take hierarchy. The pyramid. The image beneath most of the world’s
organization. Even within a seemingly simple structure there can be
tremendous variation but the will of the top is always running the
show. All of the talent and creativity of the lower layers is
subordinated to the top. It can have a group at the top or a single
individual or god, can have variable numbers of vice presidents or
bishops with many layers and numbers of individuals at the bottom
supporting the upper and led by their dictates. If the underlying
belief/image is hierarchical, incoming information and how it’s
integrated into the rest of a person’s knowledge, involves fitting it
into the hierarchical structure, looking to the authority and where
the information stands in relation to it. Authority is the filter.
When information contradicts the authority it’s rejected. Power
struggles dominate. Control is essential because whatever deviates
steps out of its place in the hierarchy, threatening the entire system
of order. Its balance is undermined by lower levels getting out of
line. What knowledge is available can’t be integrated and augmented by
related knowledge in other areas because the parts are stratified and
compartmentalized. Nowhere is there knowledge of the whole, because
even at the top, especially at the top, the mass at the bottom can’t
be seen. Too many layers beneath intervene. Movement is difficult if
not impossible.
In complexity theory when the organizing structure becomes too
overloaded, it either collapses or reorganizes into a structure that
can support all the new factors. A better underlying image might be
the homeostatic action of the body. If we think of ourselves as part
of the same body our attitude toward the health and well being of all
others changes dramatically. With the model of the body organizing our
approach to life we think of what’s best for the world instead of
what’s best for the authority. Instead of the purposes of a few making
use of the many, control of activity is decentralized and
interconnected, directed by the goal of growth and well being for the
whole. An open system that is always taking in the outer world, as
food, beauty or ideas, finds places for everyone in supporting the
health of the system, always adjusting to find balance for the whole.
Every person is a sensor to their own web of connections and is always
contributing that unique outlook. Every individual adds to the picture
and the big picture is available to all. It’s an image that can
demonstrate the increase of consciousness happening on many levels.
Attuned by our common biological heritage we understand the common
good. The information is integrated and relationships clear. The
judgments and decisions of each contributing part are the result of a
unique position in the web. Creativity can flourish anywhere. All new
information benefits the whole. All of the modes of action have a
role, and benefit from the growth of all other areas. Thinking of our
world as a body, it would be natural to care for it. It would be
unnatural to do violence to any of its parts, and cooperation would be
a natural mode of interaction.