Tag Archives: ACD

A Mature Culture: Daily Living? (Part 2)

LivingWell

To continue my musings concerning daily life in a mature culture — I am suggesting that human beings would essentially live within small village-like environments, nested within larger communities which would provide more sophisticated resources.

If we were to do away with most of the consumerism of our current society and live such that much of what was needed was provided in modular fashion, I imagine that work life would be greatly simplified with fewer daily hours of toil, and much greater opportunity for creative endeavors. I am going to assume that the work week would be five days of five hours each, with shift work as necessary for some tasks (perhaps many tasks). With good technology, many tasks could be accomplished electronically, and many meetings attended electronically. So I will assume that the average person leaves the local village environment three days a week, and remains in the local environment for the other two (see future posts for some exceptions).

I also assume that if I lived in a culture that truly honored personal development and the effective resolution of conflict, much of my work time would actually be pleasurable. If education was not a limitation, most people would devote their time to the creative aspects, leaving the drudgery to robotics, for example. Thus I would not be exhausted at the end of work, whatever the type of work. One of the aspects of being a therapist that I really enjoyed was that essentially I was paid to do my own emotional growth work, exploring with others as they struggled with their own issues, but at the same time providing creative opportunity for me — thus it was seldom that I came away feeling exhausted (almost exclusively this occurred when I was caught in my own issues with the client, wanting them to change so as to fix my own pain).

Effectively living a 25-hour work week, without the hassles imposed by consumerism, leaves a huge amount of time! How might I spend it?

My first question: how many hours do you the reader spend on your own personal development? How many hours would be needed, especially if you were truly committed to the Truth Quest as described by Herman?

I mentioned before that I believe the basis of personal development is that of meditation and journal writing. To this I would also add some form of physical activity, of which my preference is hatha yoga. All three are primary ways in which I access my other-than-conscious mind. For me, personal development depends on an integration of conscious and other-than-conscious mind, my conscious mind providing direction, my other-than-conscious providing life energy.

In the early days of my mid-life transition when I was in my 40s, I was dealing with much of my own personal pain. I found I needed three hours a day for my own personal work — an hour of meditation, journal-writing, and yoga. On top of that I also needed to spend at least another 8-10 hours a week engaged in my own therapy. At a later stage of my life, when I was creatively engaged in my work as therapist, I needed about an hour and a half: half an hour of each discipline. Now, towards the end of my eldership transition, I need about two hours a day. In both of these latter aspects, the creativity replaces the need for therapy.

So, on average, my answer as to how much time is needed for personal development is:

  • about two hours a day, plus
  • two three-hour sessions for in-depth work.

That may seem like a lot of time — but given that human beings are pain avoiders (and hence often avoid both personal development and the seeking of conflict resolution — both of which are often painful), it will be necessary time. As a species, we must do the work of overcoming our propensity to viciousness and self-righteousness; giving lip service to life change, and all the suggestions of what we should do, will not provide the outcomes we need.

Your thoughts?

To be continued.

A Mature Culture: Daily Living? (Part 1)

LivingWell

Daily living: I have mentioned in my last few posts that Louis Herman, in Future Primal, lists four characteristics that satisfy human activity, what he calls the Truth Quest: the seeking of wisdom (individuation), face-to-face discussion of important issues (intersubjectivity), shared decision making in trusted groups (direct democracy) and a narrative of meaning (mythic narrative). All components are in a continual dance with each other, in a never-ending journey of discovery — they are the basis of daily living.

MandalaFP

So –– what would cities or communities be like in these circumstances, where the total population of the world, the global village, is one to two billion people, all of whom were guaranteed adequate attention to education, health, and resources for living? Obviously very different from present-day modern life, which ranges from the affluent West to the poorest countries of the world. There would undoubtedly be much diversity, but the themes suggested by Herman remain important.

I remind the reader that what follows are my musings, based on ideas I have encountered in my personal readings. Given that I have grown up with the individuality of Western civilization in a somewhat affluent fashion, I cannot say that I like all that I am going to suggest, but I do believe that my musings are essential features of sustainable and resilient culture.

I consider the following would be essential features of daily life. Especially, I and every other human being on the planet would be living in similar fashion. I strongly value cultural diversity, but we simply cannot afford (both physically and emotionally) the vast consumerism of our planet — most of what we do would need to done in modular fashion, using shared resources.

A question: If our highest priority was the seeking of wisdom, the seeking of personal growth, would we need private property, other than in token fashion? If everyone had adequate education, health and living conditions, would we need money? If everyone was convinced of the need for sustainability, would we be willing to live effectively into community, sharing childcare, and sustaining each other in many ways to which at present we only give lip service? Utopian perhaps, but how else can we adapt to the massive changes that are needed in our current world?

I suggest that each individual would be committed to living in a village-like environment (up to about 300 people), seeking always to find a balance between personal needs and the improvement of local culture, not growth per se, but sustainable satisfaction.

  • Given advanced communication technology, this village-like environment could provide both work and personal-family milieu, offering excellent resources for cultural enhancement (library resources, theatre, et cetera).
    • Community child care of high quality would be an essential feature, such that children would be welcome to attend all community functions.
  • There would be many community interactions, on a daily and weekly basis, ranging from community sharing of food preparation and eating to local governance, with a commitment to:
    • personal development, especially emotional development (call it therapy by any other name),
    • resolution of conflict (the settling of inter-personal differences), and
    • local governance (the management of community to achieve local desires).
  • There would be some opportunity for travel, both business and personal, but for the most part, travel would be in a virtual domain, not a physical domain.

These village-like environments would be embedded within larger communities, where more sophisticated resources (medical and educational, for example) would be available. There would be strong linkages between governance at this level and that of the village-like level (see later posts for details).

Your thoughts?

To be continued.

Digression: Global Warming

The Dangers of Climate Change
The Dangers of Climate Change

A few days ago, I received two relatively recent articles that highlight for me the risks of global warming: Warning from the past: Future global warming could be even warmer (2016 predictions on potential temperature rise) and Mass extinction forecast with 6°C temperature rise (2013 predictions of the impact on species).

I get a lot of information about global warming on a weekly basis; I’ve been doing so since sometime in 2009. I remember sitting in a lecture hall listening to a speaker talk about global warming when the speaker mentioned the impact on permafrost (permanently frozen ground in the Arctic regions). Recall that I have degrees in physics and biophysics (with a lot of maths and chemistry), and that I have worked in the Arctic — I know a little about permafrost! My PhD dissertation explores the relationships of acedia and global warming — I know how resistant we humans are to changing our patterns. At that moment, I got it! If we do not quickly manage global warming, we will go extinct. Not maybe — will! Simple physics; simple biology. I am not interested in “doom and gloom” — but I am very pragmatic when it comes to risk management.

Since that time I have been following the reports of the consequences of global warming, and the attempts to assess the risks. Every major report has said: “The previous report underestimated the risks. It is worse than we thought!” (The actual wording varied; the message was the same.)

First, the current CO2 level as of 2016 July 10 is 405.59 ppm, with the average June level of 406.81, both figures up ~4 ppm over the same dates of 2015, and overall ~125 ppm above pre-industrial levels of ~275 ppm. Even with maximal effort, the levels will still rise somewhat simply due to delays in the feedback systems. Notice where this puts us on the following chart (summarized from Six Degrees: Our Future On A Hotter Planet): between 2°C and 3°C.

SixDegrees

All of this is bad news. Anything about 2°C risks uncertain run-away feedback mechanisms that could well destroy our civilization for thousands of years, if not simply that of human extinction. A very good summary is available as “A degree by degree explanation of what will happen when the earth warms.” It is not good news.

As I am sure people are aware, our international governments have struggled with reaching agreement on how to respond to global warming, and last fall in Paris finally reached a non-binding agreement to limit planetary warming to under 2°C (a commitment, but not a guarantee). And global warming is only one of the issues.

In Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, Diamond notes:

People often ask, “What is the single most important environmental-population problem facing the world today?” A flip answer would be, “The single most important problem is our misguided focus on identifying the single most important problem!” . . .  We have to solve them all.

          [B]ecause we are rapidly advancing along this non-sustaining course, the world’s environmental problems will get resolved, in one way or another, within the lifetimes of the children and young adults alive today. The only question is whether they will become resolved in pleasant ways of our own choice, or in unpleasant ways not of our choice, such as warfare, genocide, starvation, disease epidemics, and collapses of societies. (p. 498)

I don’t like these scenarios.

Community in a mature culture? (Part 2)

How could we be satisfied in a mature culture?
How could we be satisfied in a mature culture?

We are now the most important species on this planet, dominant in our capability to sustain it, or to destroy it. Up to this point in time, our “civilization” has been that of domination, and essentially unlimited growth. If we want to survive and thrive as a species, we have no choice but to learn cooperation and sustainability — this is the fundamental basis of a mature culture.

For me, this means:

  • We must have a sustainable population, likely 1.5 – 2 billion, certainly less than 2 billion people (my personal sense is that of about 1 billion). Currently we have more than 7 billion; how we are to reduce in number is unclear, and if we do not have clarity, it will likely be bloody.
    • Our technological skill is of major advantage in high-speed communication and sustainable energy management; but we must temper the ways in which it leads to competition and consumerism.
    • We must be sustainable. That means that there will be no such thing as garbage — all goods and end-products must be recycled. Our environmental impact must be minimal.
      • We must give up our orientation to “growth.” It is likely that there will no such thing as “for profit;” everything we do will be “non-profit,” sustainable and resilient.
  • Our current civilization is orientated to newness, almost in an addictive fashion — we call it boredom. We must learn the joys associated with the growth of wisdom; this in itself provides a deep satisfaction and exhilaration of living.
    • Ross and Herman (both mentioned in the last post) note the intense gratification that comes to being open to the present moment in the quest for truth.
  • We are designed for living in small groups, somewhere in the of range 50 – 200 people. We name such groups villages.
    • It is in these small groups that, optimally, we practice the first three of Herman’s characteristics: the pursuit of self-knowledge, face-to-face discussion, and direct democracy in action.
      • It is in the interaction of villages that the larger narrative emerges.
    • We are both competitive and cooperative by nature.
      • We must learn the skills of non-interference. We must learn how to manage our anger when our cherished beliefs are challenged by the diversity of a global village, both within our small groups and in our interactions with other groups.
      • My personal skill is that I know how to do this, and how to coach others in the processes necessary for this to occur.

I suggest that the central aptitude in all this will be that of personal self-care. If I as an individual am unable to take care of myself, I am unable to gift to others in an effective long-term fashion. The predominant skills will be those of mindfulness and journal-writing, skills that are slowly developing in our current culture.

In my next post, I will expand these characteristics into aspects of daily living.

Your thoughts?

To be continued.

Community in a mature culture? (Part 1)

DailyLife1

So, how would people actually live in a mature culture? As an aside, one of the disadvantages of digressions (my last few posts) is that I forget where I was. My current blog contributions are also complicated by a lot of traveling during the summer. So some will be short, others longer. In addition, in the next few posts, I will always end with “Your thoughts?” as a way to encourage your own ideas as to how we could live.

In my work with anger management, I have always maintained that there are two important considerations:

  • we are emotional beings, and
  • we can have clarity — it’s optional.

We are pain avoiders — that is almost the definition of biology (all of life moves towards pleasure, and away from pain). In this, we are driven by our emotional needs and our other-than-conscious needs, and we have great difficulty overcoming these needs so as to have clarity of options. We are thus frequently in internal conflict with ourselves; we are frequently in external conflict with others, especially in regards to the needs of the individual versus the needs of the group; and we have great difficulty with conflict (for most people, it is filled with pain).

And for literally millions of years, we have been hunter-gatherers, and it is only in the past few thousands of years that we have shifted to civilization, gathering in large groups so as to take advantage collective action. It is only in the past few hundred years that we have become technological. Who we are as human beings is determined by the millions of years, not the superficial gloss of the recent past. And if we are to be at peace with our world, we must live into who we are, not who we think we should be.

I’m currently re-reading Last and First Men by Olaf Stapledon. Stapledon was described as the greatest mythologist in science fiction, deeply influential in that genre; Last and First Men is a three-billion-year history of mankind (in 300 pages!). Stapledon notes in the fiction that it took more than two billion years for man to give up the processes of misunderstanding, self-centeredness and ill-will — definitely a long journey — hopefully we can actually mature faster than this, we need to do so.

So, who are we? In addressing this question, I have been deeply influenced in particular by three books (each one is a fascinating exploration, and I recommend each highly):

  • Rupert Ross, Dancing With A Ghost: Exploring Aboriginal Reality
    • Ross explores the underlying basic whereby Aboriginal culture of Canada remained largely as hunter-gatherers, and did not become a culture of domination, but rather emphasized non-interference.
  • Louis Herman, Future Primal: How Our Wilderness Origins Show Us The Way Forward
    • Herman explores the nature of the society of the San Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert, our closest living relatives to the original hunter-gatherers. He suggests that they are also the longest surviving direct democracy in the world.
  • Andrew Schmookler, The Parable Of The Tribes: The Problem Of Power In Social Evolution
    • Schmookler explores how the impact of power dynamics has been the single most important determinant in the development of civilization, eventually leading to the dominator culture of modernity.

Herman, in particular, points out that the original Socratic intention of politics was the search for the good life, attempting to answer (and balance) two primordial questions:

  • How shall I live? and
  • How shall we all live together?

(This is certainly not how I think of politics today!)

Herman also names four components that bring satisfaction to human activity:

  • the pursuit of self-knowledge and personal growth;
  • honest, face-to-face discussion that enlarges and qualifies personal understandings;
  • communication within small democratic communities of trusted equals; and
  • a collective, cooperative weaving together of a big story — a narrative of meaning — that helped the individual find his or her particular place in the ever-expanding shared big picture.

The underlying purpose of my blog is to challenge the human issues that support accelerated climate disruption. I maintain that these issues are the same factors that have created the risks of nuclear holocaust, overpopulation, and other major environmental disasters. So my remarks on a future mature culture are applicable to all this.

Your thoughts?

To be continued.

A Major CO2 Storage Advance

We need major advances like this in carbon drawdown.
We need major advances like this in carbon drawdown.

A very important post today, but we need more than technology: Iceland Carbon Dioxide Storage Project Locks Away Gas, and Fast. We are approaching a time when the technological issues of climate change will be resolved. The process described is fairly quick and cheap, and uses routine technology, and it can be scaled up: there’s lots of porous basaltic rock in sea beds, and though it needs lots of water, sea water will do just fine. It will take time to develop, but feasible.

Unfortunately, from my perspective, the technological issues are the least important aspect of global warming. Important, yes, but climate change is essentially only a symptom of our hubris as a human species. Until we resolve the emotional issues that underlie climate change, we are simply likely to create another way of destroying ourselves. In the past hundred years, we have had the threat of nuclear holocaust, loss of biodiversity with extensive species extinction, overpopulation, threats of mass starvation, risk of major sea level rise, only some of which are related to global warming.

Resolving the technological issues of climate change will likely be easy compared to these other issues. What will it take for us to mature as a species? Probably catastrophe such as we cannot yet imagine!

This post was originally submitted to Facebook 2016 June 11.