Whole and Part

April 13, 2009 | Leave a Comment

Category: Future, Society

Observing the government’s interventions to address the changes that the economy is experiencing, I often see the individual as a metaphor for society and think of an intervention in the context of how an individual could be assisted.

I frequently shift back and forth between the scales of biology, society and individual growth and transformation.  I observe how stories operate on the level of the individual, society and even our species.  The dynamics of evolution evidence themselves at these different planes.  This website often focuses on how understanding evolution at one scale informs the others.

Thinking of what our society requires to achieve health often has me thinking in terms of an individual human.  Reading what other people are observing about the crisis, I note that others are often doing the same thing, seeking to understand a society by achieving insight into a self, using individual as metaphor.

In other essays I’ve explained what is happening by describing the crash and the coming depression as part of a process of a major social structure transition from mostly patrifocal to mostly matrifocal.  Across generations people are transforming as parents birth children with different hormonal constellations and neurological propensities from what their parents and grandparents had.  The changes are occurring at the levels of the individual, society and our species.  Perhaps by thinking of society as an individual we might derive some insight on how to assist the transition.

A problem with the frame I observe the media using to understand the predicament we’re in is that the frame assumes something bad happened and if we can make the bad thing go away, health will return.  First, health did not characterize society and the economy the last few generations.  Second, what is happening now is not bad, it is difficult.  What is happening now is a stage in our transition.

Life on earth this last century has been characterized by a massive destruction of natural infrastructure while most of the human species suffered dramatic deficits in health and basic necessities.  I would not characterize that state as one we would want to return to.  The premise that we need to fix the economy and get back to where we were is insane.  If world society were an individual, friends and family would have been calling for an intervention long before the 2008 Crash.

So, using this premise, that society can be looked at as an individual, what would be useful interventions?

Society is exhibiting schizophrenic, addictive, obsessive compulsive, narcissistic, borderline and traumatized behaviors.  Where do we begin?

First, think in terms of the whole and the part.

Use our imaginations.  I observe the administration creating programs with little understanding of the bigger picture.  By bigger, I mean worldwide.  Each law, each allocation needs to be examined for its repercussion on people here and people overseas.  National security and U.S. interests are frames of reference rapidly fading in a world whose people are shifting identity to the planet.  What we do influences the world.

Engage our compassion.  There is no better place to assign resources than to individual health and basic needs.  Provide food, health care and a place to live, inexpensive public transportation, child care and an education.  Encourage this across the world.  Then watch the kind of economy that imagination and compassion can construct.

Nurture the individual in the context of an integrated whole.  Encourage societal change by embracing the individual.  Reframe independence as interdependence, liberty as community, freedom as a commitment to the commons.

Vision is more than trusting that problems can be solved and imagining what the world will look like when that time comes.  Vision at this time of transition requires being able to see around the corner to what we are soon to become.  The human adolescence is over.  The stage of acting out is coming to an end.  We’re beginning to understand that it’s not all about us as individuals or all about us as society.  It’s not even all about us as a species.  It’s all about all those things and about the planet as a whole.


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