Monday, January 5, 2015

Conscience And The Kings

As more of my time necessarily has become consumed with job hunting, I have discovered that the options are not much better than the last time I tried to be selective based on my values and preferred work environment. This is despite the fact that I am more aware of what I want and need based on last year's breakthroughs in research and self evaluation, making the search's filters much more refined and reliable. Having intentionally framed my values around the needs of my community, global humanity, for surviving and thriving as long as possible, the issues I'm finding with my search parallel the issues I identified on a global level, and in about the same measure.

I have resisted the urge to compromise on these issues, in line with my commitment to become a "death stopper," but I now realize that my focus has been too self-centered, striving as I have for an optimum personal situation where I am with people who share similar values working toward similar ends. Instead, I may need to do what feels like climbing back into the trenches of war, and use my new-found vision and courage to make positive change wherever I go, but in a more obvious and straightforward way than I now realize I have attempted to do in the past. Essentially, I would focus on approximating an ideal world in as many situations as possible, and make my intentions clear in the process. Realistically, I expect a lot of resistance.

I have recently been studying the field of human ecology (the research variant, rather than the "making a better life" variant), which looks like the best fit to my independent research into population and consumption, and it finds evidence that healthy societies are like healthy ecosystems in that they tend to grow to take advantage of existing resources and then to resist change. Ours is not healthy. A considerable amount of scientific research has shown that as people gain more power, they are inclined to lose their natural empathy and increasingly treat other people as objects to be manipulated to gain more power. This consequence is reflected in my population-consumption model as a mechanism for people with extreme happiness to attempt increasing it despite limits to their own ecological resources. Simplistically, conscience is short-circuited by happiness, ultimately leading to lower population as perhaps one of Nature's safety mechanisms for preserving habitable environments.

A functional government would tend to offset the negative effects, using laws to replace conscience as a protective force in people's interactions and keeping power from being too concentrated, but our (U.S.) government has been sabotaged by the powerful people who want to take more than is healthy for everyone else. This has been enabled by an economy which rewards the manipulation of money with the creation of more money, resulting in an obscene wealth distribution that is further locked in by our approach to the limits of ecological resources. A small part of the population now has enough economic power to potentially own all of the resources everyone else needs to survive. Even if all of the people in that group had fully-functioning consciences (and some likely do, since these trends are statistical, not individually determinant), they could not have the information or the time to make decisions that avoid harm to some fraction of the people whose lives they can affect. Since too much happiness has a pathological effect that makes even well-meaning harm unlikely, the underlying cause needs to be addressed soon, even if we don't consider the ecological impacts that pose an existential threat if we continue exceeding healthy consumption.

If my analysis is correct, creating an ideal world could involve something like global drug addiction treatment, perhaps by creating a safe replacement as an intermediate step that would buy time for ecosystems and social systems to recover to a more healthy state, while weaning the wealthy off their happiness high. Reshaping values and reactivating consciences would have to be built into the "replacement" so it doesn't become a permanent substitute. To some extent, the entertainment industry currently serves to give the illusion of living in a different environment, and religion manages values within an imaginary construct of reality; perhaps the replacement could use components of both to achieve the desired results, and even educate people with a more accurate understanding of how the world works. Care would need to be taken so such a tool is not misused, by for instance further concentrating power among a few people.

This and other possible remedies should be openly debated before a global roll-out, following a debate about what the common core set of values should actually be (I am presenting my own preferences here). That doesn't mean such debates and remedies can't be attempted on a small scale to judge their efficacy, as long as it is done honestly and openly with all concerned; such is the essence of the focus I suggested I might personally take in the interim. To be globally useful, though, such attempts should be coordinated and analyzed, perhaps by an academic entity as part of a science project, and I would be absolutely thrilled to take part in the project at that level (I would even love to translate the results artistically, to reach a wide audience as part of the debate over broader use).