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Home  >  Don't read this...

Don't read this...

...if an explicit take on reality makes you uncomfortable. Especially since I am unable to supply the reader with a phone number to a counselling service at the ready to calm all those for whom what follows has "raised issues".

Human society is largely driven by human (inter)actions. We do things for any number of reasons, and usually we would like to see a result in line with our inclinations.

But often that's not how it works. Reality, in this case all the others who are also part of society, they too have their own inclinations that drive them in directions not necessarily shared by the originator. As a result what is actually happening is a confluence of many factors, whether we like them or not. That result may or may not be shared by so many others in turn, since for most of us the consequences of some action down the line are equally opaque - we are all in the same boat.

Sometimes the effects are such that delving into the reasons for an outcome becomes highly uncomfortable if they do not fit our perceptions we have of human affairs. In that case pointing them out can lead to anything from opprobrium to anger, even to vengeance. And so the reasons will be rejected and the problem continues and usually gets worse. Reality has the last word - always.

Every one of the items featured below has the potential to severely compromise humanity on this planet. The danger increases as we become ever more powerful and influential. In our past annihilations occurred already, only the participants were so ineffective the damage was more or less contained. But we're catching up.

The 10 axioms of Society define the situation in general terms.

Here are some of those consequences.

The more things become criminalised, the further society is divided into the smarts who didn't get caught and the schmucks who did. Which also means we share our space with an increasing number of people who got caught in the past but who are now free, yet possessing a mindset not in sync with the declared ideal. Once again we have a class system, but hidden from view. The issue is insidious because in most cases the changes in law are based on good intentions. We turn into a society of criminals under the law.

As ever more entities are created that are meant to deal with individual shortcomings, personal resilience is outsourced to the public arena. Since the entities are run by people from that self-same society, as a consequence the entities themselves become dysfunctional although they are expected to help. A downward spiral leading to dissolution.

A democracy allows input from the individual and so answers to the wishes of the average. In an authoritarian regime the top echelon decides and no-one else. Hence in a democracy there is more variance but tempered by the multitude, whereas in a dictatorship the range of possibilities is narrow but what remains is being done. Both experience a reversal from the grand view towards the situation on the ground: in the democracy individuals become authoritarian if reality demands decisive action, and in a dictatorship individuals become more pragmatic because the orders from on high have become unworkable. Either development represents a challenge to the system.

Morality - whether derived from religious or secular decrees - serves to distinguish between the good and the bad. Either the individual's sense of 'good' shapes that person's moral framework, or the framework shapes the individual. In the end there is no good or bad morality. What matters is the overall composition of society, whether it is largely made up of people who out of self-confidence format the rules, or whether the majority allows itself to be formatted by the rules.

Growth - destruction - renewal. An overall phenomenon recognised since ancient times. The argument should not be about its veracity since it occurs over and over again at any scale. Rather, why do people never cease to perform actions that quite clearly lead to their suffering? Is it because they actually do want to see suffering (and never mind the 'politically correct' version of their thoughts)? Or is it because they have a however subliminal desire to follow the grand principle? In the case of the latter it would leave the concept of Free Will on rather shaky ground. Homo sapiens is the only species that rewards madness.

Arguably the most effective way through which a species ensures its survival over time is the innate regenerative capacity of its young. And so the best way to control pests is to interfere with that capacity in their offspring. Biologists make use of that principle with great success once they figure out how to do it. Human society is no exception. That's why the most reliable indicators of decay are self-destructive tendencies and gratuitous violence in young people once they have become a pattern.

Identity represents the core of ourselves. The closer a challenge gets to that core, the more assertive the defence. It can even lead to murder. Likewise, for the owner of the identity it becomes ever more difficult, if not impossible, to accept a solution to some problem as soon as their own self would be compromised.

As nations become more advanced, there is an increasing distance between those who can avail themselves of the opportunities and those who can't. Since education takes time (which is essentially limited) the number of the educated decreases relative to those who are unskilled. Where does that leave democracy with its majority rule? Furthermore, in order to remain competitive would a nation therefore trend towards elitism?

The debates about what constitutes value compared to what doesn't can be endless, yet the answer is quite simple. As an opera singer once said when asked a similar question within the context of music, "How long does it take an opera singer to sing a pop song, and how long does it take a pop singer to sing an aria?" Unfortunately, many people become uncomfortable just thinking along those lines.

If two competitors eye each other they do so in order to spot some weakness. It happens at any scale, from individuals right up to entire nations. Teamwork, if and when it happens, merely pushes the principle up to the next level. Hence a provocation can be seen as the consequence of looking for a weakness. Whether the weakness is realised by its owner, or whether that perception is true to begin with, is another matter.

Education is the fundamental framework serving to prepare the young for the contingencies of their society. The contingencies are derived from two sources, reality overall (ie, nature) and, in the case of humans, how the members perceive their society. The closer those two are aligned with each other the more productive education will be. On the other hand, in case of a mismatch the young will not be sufficiently prepared because nature does not modify itself to assist society; society needs to adjust itself to nature. An education system that insists on ideology and wishful thinking will not only harm the young, ultimately it will harm the entire society. Animals do not have that optionality. Either the young learn their lessons and survive, or they don't; retribution is swift. Only humans have the luxury to delay the inevitable. But that's all it is - a delay.

Everything has a cost. Everything. Winning a million dollars in the lottery comes with a cost, and we are not even talking about the price of the ticket. The question is not, is there a cost; there is. Rather, how can one deal with the costs and still come out ahead. A derivate is the inclination to re-examine one's actions should the result have been negative. Most people do that (what went wrong and why). However, how many would do the same if the outcome had been a success? What guarantee is there that the circumstances will be exactly the same next time?

© Martin Wurzinger - see Terms of Use