We are Social By Nature


 We are be social creatures. The elements we’re made of hunger for specific kinds of relationships in specific contexts. This relationship economy, built on the need for the satisfaction of specific hungers within specific ranges defines our nature. Every atom with which we are constructed has specific hungers for specific relationship. Our nature is social to the core, our biological structure reveals this at many levels. Every cell and organ depends on the others. It is the community of social relationships that defines us.



When we cultivate the availability of, and tend to servicing a certain nourishing order of things, we can be satisfied; conversely, if we violate this necessary order we suffer from instability – and if a critical nourishing relational pathway on which we depend is throttled or destroyed we can lose the integrity on which we depend to exist as a biological being.

Our brains are built on the same social principle. In terms of perception, contrary to some beliefs, we are not primarily logical creatures that are also social and emotional. Even though we appear to use logic as the currency of social influence, our peculiar use of logic as a method to persuade is a polite fiction at best. The evidence does not suggest logic is an effective tool, except in social circles where logic is valued highly or some corresponding social-emotional connection is associated with the logic – and this is the point: “Social-Emotional Bonds” are the key.

The fact that our emotional and social traits trump logic is born out by the evidence in many ways. One example is the way we sincerely and passionately disagree with out-groups in ways that conveniently agree with and support the validity of our in-group. This difference is despite the similarity of our basic biological sensory and processing equipment. This suggests something other than biological differences as the cause. Of far greater weight than our brain’s capacity for logic is the emotional-social aspect of this fatty organ sloshing around our skull. When our social hungers are either wounded of starved, particularly at critical developmental periods, all kinds of pathologies can result.

Addiction may be one of those pathologies. Here is an interesting TED talk by Johann Hari about the potential causes of addiction.


Further related articles:




A Voice in the Choir of Life


The same way we have critical systems and organs in our individual biological membrane, we live in the context of a larger membrane, a larger body of life, which also has critical systems and organs. There are creatures, that if removed or diminished, can severely harm or destroy the body of life on which we depend. Large scale damage caused by relatively small changes in the body of life are called a trophic cascade.

For instance; the presence of wolves obviously changes the behavior of all the animals they prey on which affects all the biological organisms and environments they in turn interact with. If wolves are removed from system, the behaviors of the prey animals changes. Certain plants that were once off limits are now an option, others might now be ignored. The places they walk and how their reproductive drives impact the environment all begin to shift. This change in turn affects a number of other biological and physical systems. The prey animals might overpopulate. They might eradicate certain plant forms and under harvest their former food sources which can threaten or collapse their populations. The plants that depended on them to spread their seed may now be harmed. The point is, biology is an interconnected web, not a collection of isolated genetic islands.

Trophic cascades affect metabolic processes in a biological web, but they also impact social behaviors. If prey animals have less reason to be as cohesive as a herd and have less reason to run and stay fit this can change the way they relate to each other. This might impact their survivability through tough winters which depends on a certain type of sociality. They might get water from different sources changing their impact on the soil and river revetments. This can have an impact on plant life and fish etc. So extensive is the potential effect of a singular change in a biological ecosystem that it can alter the entire biological web all the way down to microorganisms. This type of collective effect in an ecosystem is called a top-down trophic cascade.

Bottom up cascades are also possible. When a primary producer in a food web is eliminated it has enormous ripples of impact up the chain. Removal of a predator, prey, or any creature from an ecosystem can cause a network of cascading consequences to the biological web. Not all of the effects are obvious. One reason these effects can be hard to detect is because many of the consequences are non linear. Some can be buried in a network of interconnections that appear as symptoms far removed from the cause. No matter the origin, this cascading impact on the balance of interdependencies present in biological systems is called a trophic cascade.

The interdependent properties of biological systems that are otherwise invisible are revealed once a trophic cascade lens is applied. If we only apply linear thought to the process of examining biological systems, we might think that whales eating fish diminishes fish stocks. We might also think that eliminating whales from the biological equation would increase fish stocks. This is not how biological systems work. The nature of the whole food web is such that what one creature produces as waste is what another needs as food. As mammals, we need oxygen to power our metabolism. Oxygen is a waste product of photosynthetic organisms. They need the carbon dioxide we produce. Together, we are part of the same body of life.

Trophic cascades are nothing new. Neither is one biological organism acting in such a way that their own survival is jeopardized. The Huronian glaciation was a world wide glaciation event lasting from 2400 million to 2100 million years ago. It was followed by, and probably caused by, the Great Oxygenation Event. This was when atmospheric oxygen began to rise dramatically due to photosynthetic cyanobacteria which appeared on earth about 200 million years prior. At the time there was no complementary life form to cycle the oxygen back into a usable form for the cyanobacteria. As a consequence they were drowning in their own waste. Once Earths oxygen sinks became saturated atmospheric oxygen increased and atmospheric methane decreased which caused a climate shift, triggering a world wide glaciation. Since free oxygen is toxic to obligate anaerobic organisms like cyanobacteria, the concentrations of oxygen are thought to have wiped out most of the Earth’s anaerobic inhabitants at the time.

This means cyanobacteria were responsible for one of the most, if not the most significant extinction events in Earth’s history, including many of them. It was not until aerobic organisms began to evolve which consume oxygen that the Earth began to recover and develop some kind of equilibrium.1 From a very wide lens, we are actually a complex form of dung beetle that consumes and repairs the oxygen by binding it with carbon for use as a metabolite for the very creatures that spawned us so long ago.

Interdependence is the principle of sustained structures in biological systems, and these chains of interdependency have developed complexity over the millennium. The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, posits that organisms collectively interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a self-regulating system. Together the biological systems help maintain the metabolism of the planet, such that it supports sustained life on the planet. This speaks to the common role of every biologicla creature, and to what can happen if a particular species falls out of harmony with that role.

The same way our individual bodies have critical organs and critical relationships with other organisms that we depend on. Earth itself has a metabolism that we need to cultivate and tend to in order for us to continue. We are a voice in the choir of life. Any creature that falls out of harmony with serving a nourishing role in the body of life has faded from the biological landscape. Sometimes this exit is dramatic and sometimes a lot of splash damage is caused by the chaos of the exit.

Recognizing that not only we, but the other creatures we share this Earth with are part of our collective body of life is part of the cultural paradigm shift that must take place in order for us to sustainably move forward into the future. If we recognize the value of nourishing each other, and the body of life, we also maximize our chances for a fulfilling future. We know that desert environments are full of spines and reflect the harsh realities of their environment. The same way we know the lush fruits of the tropics provide plentiful nourishment sources. The difference is the environment and we have the capacity to cultivate the environment. The real question is will we squander or leverage this capacity to serve the body of life, and by extension ourselves?

Further reading:




1Prokaryotes such as cyanobacteria which are thought to have produced atmospheric oxygen.

Earth is Our Tribe


We are social creatures far more than we are rational ones. The same way raindrops form on the backbone of a particle of dust, our abstract identities are an interpretive dance of interconnected values based on the particulate backbone of imperfect perception faculties coupled with what is communicated through our environment and the established cultural ideas we nurse from in youth. As social creatures, we’re wired to sacrifice accuracy on the altar of belonging. This isn’t because we’re more inclined to intentionally lie in order to belong to a group. Lies are a semi-irrelevant extension of our social nature. Our perception is geared to see what we need to see to cement the social bonds we depend on to live.

We ride aloft on the thermals of our innate social hungers, interpreting imperfect sensory data through a distorted cultural lens that was forged by environmental factors largely beyond the reach of our time, place and capability to influence. Once established, this lens becomes much more an inward projection of installed prejudices than an accurate interpreter of outward events. This is why what looks like common sense to one group looks completely insane to another. Our connection to ideas is an emotional one founded on the intimacy driven by the dependency of social hunger, it is not a rational one based on objective evidence.

We build our identity from the ideological breast milk of the culture we’re baptized in from youth. This ideological perspective is largely constructed at critical periods in development – prior to developing the potential to critically question the premises on which these perspectives stand, much less the discipline to do so. Along with an installed perspective forged on social dependency and how ideas serve as social glue, we also develop an ideological immune system to protect that same identity because, in so doing, we protect what it is we conceive of as our self. In aligning this ideological profile with how it serves to bind us to a group, we become an integrated part of a larger tribal body and thus historically more resilient, adaptable, and by extension, able to survive. An examination of accuracy is not as important as an evolutionary axiom of utility. It is what is useful and arguably essential to belong that trumps accuracy.

Allegiance to local sports teams is one of the recent manifestations of tribal instinct, as is allegiance to organizations, scientific and religious ideologies as well as abstract notions like property and nationalism. So powerful is this social currency that an abstract idea can form the basis of membrane to distinguish an in-group and out-group so powerful that people will fight and die over it. This tribal social attribute has served us well in a world where we needed to navigate some almost impossible adversity over the years. At times, without these kinds of uncompromising bonds to our local tribe we would have literally died off. Social currency is the coin of the realm that outwardly symbolizes the innate values that have been structured into our human cognitive frame over the years by nature to increase our potential to endure.

Along with every advantage conferred by some innovative structure born out of nature comes a potential downside. Our emotional-social attachments to abstractions along with our social hungers can become manipulated such that they are cemented to destructive things by the same engine that once drove our survival. Our innate traits can and have been exploited in some cases to drive emotional attachments to such things as corporate brands and causes which are in opposition to our best interests. People now routinely back causes that are destructive to our individual and collective well being because of ignorance, accidental appropriation and the deliberate and artful massaging of these natural social traits to serve narrow agendas.

The wealth of any local tribe has always come from it’s capacity to cultivate its people such that they lived within their means and continually cemented the bonds of unity and awareness of that which sustained their future. Each member carried the torch for and passed it to the next generation. Finding a harmonious equilibrium with the environment while cultivating and maximizing the fruits that nourish the community is the foundation of wealth. While desperate times have called for desperate measures, from the larger perspective, tribal wealth is a byproduct of how much the members of the community give to the community, not from how much power and resource they extract from it. A vested interest in the entire social and environmental ecosystem, including each other, is the life blood of the tribe.

Over time the sharing of resources and ideas is what led to our current capacity to no longer be bound as tightly to the whims of nature’s irregular bounty. We have the capacity to steer with far more intention and have far more impact through technology, but that does not mean that we have always chosen to steer wisely. Technology has provided the capacity to greatly enrich our lives, but only if it is appropriately applied. Our technological sword comes with two edges. We now have the capacity to greatly improve our lives, but we also have the capacity to destroy our future on the altar of now. Because of overpowering tools, we are faced with the new proposition of needing to apply our capacities judiciously and from a global community perspective to ensure our survival. We cannot afford to leverage our capacities capriciously without risking the destruction of the very channels that we depend on to nourish us.

Our local success now depends on the success of the many interconnected entities that collectively form our global body. We are no longer capable of operating as separate entities – different bodies. Each of us is a vital organ in the collective body. Together we are a singular whole. To strangle one part of the body for the sake of another is not only not effective, but can only be justified on a foundation of ignorant or wanton destructiveness. It is now a matter of self interest and sustainability to have, and actively cultivate, a stake in each others success and to cultivate the environmental channels that nourish us. Each of us is individually limited to the confines of that which we collectively decide we are. A world where we nourish each others potential, instead of exploit each others weaknesses, is a world that maximizes its capacity to unlock the fruit it has to offer itself. To strengthen our voice to its full potential we must strengthen each other. To effectively raise the experience of life we have as individuals, we need to recognize how contingent each of our success is on the success of the entire tribe.

A strategy that serves well in one context can be disastrous in another. We once lived in a world where local tribal unity was essential for survival -a world where we could leverage every tool at our disposal without concern for the backlash. The environment was the primary influence that shaped our ideologies and culture. If we didn’t listen to and change with the message delivered to us through the environment, we dissolved back to the soil from which we came and no longer have a voice. We now live in a world where technology has erased the need to bend to as many aspects of the environment. Along with this capacity we have effectively eliminated the protective membrane of local geography. We now all swim in the same pond and it’s a whole lot smaller than it used to be. What we do affects us all, and to survive and thrive, we need to shift our tribal perspective from the narrow set of ideological anomalies that are metaphoric echoes of a local people’s relationship to local environments over time to see the entire earth as our tribe.

A Map To The Future is through Community


It’s been said people reflect the environment they’re exposed to. This is particularly true at times when we are more emotionally excited. We remember trauma more so than the much more abundant time periods of the mundane. As children we’re in a perpetual state of excitation and wonder. As children, while we don’t have the wherewithal to absorb and retain the shaping events in the context of words, these events are nonetheless a powerful influence on the way we think and act later on.

We have a tendency to drape the cultural values and experiences we’re baptized in as a veil over our eyes and then use that veil as the filter through which we see each other and the world. A well traveled or deliberate individual might occasionally breach the veil and cross the cultural divide, at least intellectually, to see a bit of the common threads that weave together humanity. This is one such attempt, to understand the current state of our global culture and perhaps glimpse at some of the unrealized opportunity we may have at our disposal. With that understanding , perhaps we might dare to dabble our collective oar in the currents in which we ride to steer toward a more fulfilled state of being.


A coral community with a concentration of Madracis decactis on top of one of the pinnacles at Stetson Bank.

It is not beyond the pale to recognize that mankind has historically had to both literally and figuratively fight against nature in order to survive at times. In desperate times, this spawned the need to commit the most profane acts of cruelty and dehumanizing degradation, and over time this temporary necessity became inseparably intertwined with our collective cultural identity. Disease, predators, natural disasters and climate catastrophes came to be seen in some circles as things needed to be dominated in order to survive. This fight against nature was particularly pronounced in cultures that had to navigate harsher climates, endure famines and the like.

The same way an individual reflects the expressions of their local environment, cultures tend to reflect the environment they exist in and have been exposed to over time. The harsher climates some of us endured, spawned cultural reflections of themselves in the form of parasitic and predatory values that affected in the way we saw the world and each other. It shaped our myths, our cultural values and the relationship dynamic by which we pulsed – and these cultures that were refined in the fires of adversity became the warrior class of mankind. Although it has morphed into something far afield of its original appearance on the human cultural scene, war may have been spawned as a survival mechanism during desperate times. When we perceive our survival as being under threat, we opt to fight or take flight as a reaction. These fight and flight behaviors are an apt description of much of our history. Not everyone, everywhere, but as a trend, those with the capacity to dominate came to associate dominating nature, and each other, with “natural right” and “progress” – as the means of making a living on a cultural level.

The dominators came to dominate even those that didn’t have any need nor desire to live as expressions of fear – those that apply maximum pressure to nature’s bounty – that use exploitation on the altar of dehumanization to vacuum value toward the few at the expense of the many – those that sacrifice the future for the sake of the now and scorch the very earth that feeds them were born in these fires of adversity or carried on the cultural currents of those that spread these dominating values. The people who lived more in harmony with the body of life were eventually swallowed by those of us that developed concepts like property, debt, government, society, and duty as the means of establishing the false comfort of ownership and the false safety of the upper echelons of hierarchical safety. Expending societal skin to pleasure themselves…

life-sustaining river contaminated

Zayandeh-rood, a critical and life-sustaining river contaminated by oil, industrial wastes and chemicals illegally dumped in it

All of this dominance has not come without a cost. In beating back nature to continue existing, and then holding on to that fierce ritual of domination as a means of existing, we have sacrificed a portion of the spirit of life for the sake of the ritual of existence. We have deadened the opportunity of authentic relationship by staying prepared for the disaster we fear lurks in the shadows – that disaster we have come to expect and that we have also come to cultivate on our social landscape – and in so doing we have robbed ourselves of our own nature. Every organ in our body must willingly contribute something of nourishing value in the context of the community it exists in order for the body to maintain its integrity. Biology, at its core, is a gift economy, not a parasitic and predatory one. Each cell and organ in a body of any size lives in and depends on the rest of the community to share value for the sake of the collective being it depends on for life. In the long run it is a community principle that sustains us, not a dominance one. When the entire community operates on an economy based on sharing nourishing values with each other, we experience the comfort of community as well as the exhilaration of being able to navigate at our peak. Parasitic and predatory behaviors may be necessary to negotiate acute and terrible circumstances, but as a way of life, they become self destructive.

We now live in the echoes of a cultural tragedy of the commons – in the midst of treacherous waters where the social currency is aligned more with the notion that “If I do not participate in the harsh and dehumanizing coin of the realm, then I will be swallowed. I must exploit, I must dominate, I must compete, or I will be dominated.” In so acquiescing to the banality of evil stitched into the fabric of our cultural memory we have lost touch with the fact that cultivating the fullness of life requires we have a community and not a culture of exploitation – a community where we cultivate each others values instead of attempt to cease, dominate, and consume them. Although desperate times call for desperate measures, it is also true that we must gravitate back to our true nature lest we become the cause of the very thing we rail against. The dominator can become a victim of its own success – dominated by domination like a snake that eats its own tail. We must recognize that our tribe is earth, and our people are us – all of us – we must recognize that our body is the whole body of life – and that body is the Earth itself – it is not this local eddy of relationships we call our individual body. Our strength and our life depends on our capacity to express the community principle. The fullness any one of us can attain is contingent on what we collectively express in terms of community values. Every “I am” is because “we are”.

We need a world that recognizes the opportunity expressed through nature. We need a world that sees wealth as a function of giving to each other and cultivating nourishing relationships throughout the environment that lead to more life giving nourishment – and not from the seizure and demand from each other and the stripping of the environment. We need to use our individual voice in this choir – to sing that tune. To live in the context of a community that cultivates the fullness of life through sharing our best with each other. As a reward for this expression, we get to live in a world that cultivates our fullest experience of life and not one that keeps us beneath the threshold of our full potential. It is a self interested act to live by the community principle – to cultivate community. Our biological economy speaks to the validity of our own need to cultivate community through its structure. We need to contribute to the larger body of life in which we live and on which we depend in order for us to exist at all. Together we are one body of life. Divided we cultivate our own poverty.

If we were to do a sincere autopsy on the cause of our current predicament, we would not be able to trace blame to those that currently acquiesce to the “system” as it stands. Those of us that dominate are a cultural echo of fear, or a direct unwitting victim that cultivates an experience of life beneath the threshold of its full potential. We can become vectors of poverty, but not the cause. We would have to trace blame largely to a mindless conspiracy of environmental circumstances, accumulated over the years, which we now subliminally reflect and onto which we overlay our linguistic abstractions. As a global culture we reflect the full tapestry of our environmental experiences and perpetuate these on our social landscape as blindly as the dung beetle rolls it ball of waste across the dirt – we are a cultural expression of our phyletic memory – our cultural genetics were forged in the primordial soup of environmental circumstance.

Photo Credit, TheDailyMail.com

We are social creatures by nature. We hunger for intimate nourishing community. It is our nature, it is the principle on which we sustain ourselves. Our need for intimacy with air, nourishing food and water sources, and the need to process and eliminate those entities in ways that benefit other life forms speaks to the interdependent community of life in which we live, and on which we depend for life. Our very structure is an expression of our nature. Should we choose to see it as the guide by which we might live, and through which we can thrive, we will act in service of our own best interest. To serve the community is to serve ourselves. We have yet to fully realize that our local community is Earth, and that we need to have a vested interest in each others success and well being to realize the full flower of that opportunity that exists in the context of the real government under which we all live – the laws of nature. To violate these laws, or to do anything less is to become the author of our own poverty and perhaps our own extinction. What has led to where we are will not take us forward. Like any womb, the thing that nourishes us to a certain point will strangle us if we do not emerge into the next paradigm of existence.

Each of us that understands the community principle as the way to nourish our future must do what we can to cultivate a wider expressions of this. Those of us on the cusp of this new paradigm of awareness must cultivate more tangible expressions. To move forward, we must integrate the community principle into our personal, community, business, governmental and environmental values. We can become authors of our collective wealth if, and only if, we recognize our individual potential depends on how much we collectively nourish the community of life in which we live, and on which we depend for life.

Be well.

The Role of Trust In Relationships


*Note* Psychology, philosophy, economics, systems theory, etc. each have their own specific emphasis on the idea of trust. This outline loosely uses the social science lens, which deals with the position and role of trust in social systems. In other words, how trust affects human social relationships.

The Role of Trust In Relationships:

There’s no doubt that trust plays a crucial role in relationships. Trust, ranging from a completely broken trust to total trust is at the center of what defines social relationships. Businesses work hard to cultivate real and perceived trust. Their livelihood depends on trust, as do all relationships. Social relationships at all levels use the currency of trust to define the nature of relationships. Broken trusts are the cornerstone of high stress, warring, avoidance, and failed relationships while confident trust can cultivate a profound depth in the relationship bond that could be characterized as oneness -a trust that no longer needs to apply energy to question, but is sustained on the virtue of each party looking for the others needs and actively seeking to meet them.

It’s difficult to construct a accurate spectrum of trust for a number of reasons. One of these is the fact that there is a sender and a receiver as well as a perception and a reality in social settings. These do not always align. This confused mixture is a fertile ground for misplaced trust either toward too much or too little. Some are skilled at cultivating the appearance of trust or creating a sense of obligation to trust rather than the activities that produce a well founded reality that warrants trust. Depending on the effectiveness of the deceit, this false image can result in many a parasitic and predatory behavior that echoes long past the initial betrayal. We can develop suspicions due to past experiences that we project falsely into current or future situations. This can cause an inability to trust which in turn can cause other issues such as the pain of self inflicted social isolation. The bottom line, trust is a complicated climate that would take quite a bit of effort to unpack. This work only deals with a useful model of understanding in general how various levels of trust impacts relationships.

This model uses four levels of trust to present a picture of the lowest to the highest form. They are as follows: Deterrence, Calculated, Knowledge based and identity trust.

Trust in deterrence is the lowest level of trust. It is a deterrence based trust. It depends the credible threat of force and or punishment if something expected in not done. Slaves that fear being whipped as motivation for working is an example. People who obey the laws aligned with cultivating social order out of fear of the consequence rather than a commitment to that social order have a deterrent based trust. The fact that there is another way of relating to such laws is irrelevant. The individual or group sets the tone for how behaviors are motivated. If belief in consequence is the motivator that compels behavior, there is no commitment, there is only compliance. Deterrent based

Calculated Trust is based in projections and promises along with perhaps some facts such as reputation. It is a decision to engage in relationship based on a cost/benefit analysis, weighing the potential benefit of creating and sustaining the relationship against the projected cost. Generally, both parties are looking for some gain which the proposed partnership could yield, but deterrence is still a factor. If at any time if the cost is perceived as outweighing the benefit, the relationship is terminated. In this case, the party that perceives the harm must also be willing to follow through on severing otherwise the relationship shifts from trust to abuse. Engaging in a optional business relationship is an example of calculated trust. A partnership forged on mutual needs like the that found in danger situations, mountain climbing or certain critical business partnerships. Generally speaking calculated trust relationships can be fertile soil for higher trust in relationships to grow from.

Knowledge Trust can emerge out of calculation based trust once enough information from experience emerges. Predictability comes from a relationship over time. If that is seen to be of advantage, knowledge-based trust emerges. Control in the form of threats of deterrence diminish as more authentic trust bonds emerge. Less energy is applied to verification and more is applied to accelerating the potential that comes from sharing each others’ strengths. TIN is the range within the spectrum of trust relationships where the relational emphasis can shift from compliance to commitment. Both parties can begin to apply their full energies toward take advantage of each others strengths. This is where the full potential of emergent value can arise. (Where one party brings line, the other brings hooks ,so both can now fish.) Emergent values are those where the outcome is more than the sum of its parts.

Identification Trust happens when the relationship is fully committed – where both parties understand and fully endorse one another. Each acts as an agent for the others’ interests in a mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship. Identification Trust relationships are demonstrated by autonomous committed behaviors carried out by all parties. No one has to ask necessarily, each party inquires about the others needs and responds by actively seeking to meet them. The relationship is no longer based on promises, it is a fully realized intimacy. At this stage, if one party is hurt, the other feels the pain. Secrets evaporate in this climate because they are no longer necessary as a means of protection. The boundaries between the parties disappear as all parties assume a common identity. Co-location, joint development of products and services, shared vision, values, goals and the like are possible in this high trust climate. Compliance based on elements of deterrence disappear and full commitment defines the relationship.

In Summary:

The lowest form of trust is deterrence. Relationships based on deterrence are motivated by the fear of punishment for non compliance. Next up is relationships based on calculation. These use a cost-benefit analysis with a deterrence factor where the relationship will break down if the benefit is not realized. Next is relationships based on knowledge. These emerge from a calculated relationship once enough information from experience emerges. Knowledge is where the relational emphasis can shift from compliance to commitment. Both parties can begin to apply their full energies toward take advantage of each others strengths. Relationships based on identification happens when the relationship is fully committed – where both parties act as agents for the others’ interests. No one has to ask, each party is interested in the others needs and actively seeks to meet them.

What are your relationships based on? Do you think you have a realistic view of the trust you should place? Are you authentic? How does integrity play in a field where there are well skilled posers? What do you think we can do to improve the climate of trust? What impact do you think this would this have on the world?

The Value of Emotional Bladder Control


Can we choose our emotions? What, if any degree of mastery can we establish over what we feel? How would that change our life and society if we were more frequently able to calibrate our emotions so that the played constructive roles rather than governed behaviors such as overreactions and escalating cycles of disproportionate responses? Why is it we clearly see the value of encouraging people to practice things like – how to pronounce words, play an instrument, and so on as part of the learning process, but we rarely, if ever, focus on teaching the skill sets to get a cognitive grip on our emotional state? In fact, we live in a reactionary society that punishes a the behavioral results of a lack of emotional control at the same time we do little to prevent these situations from arising in the first place.

Emotions are like the bladder. We can learn a measure of control when and where we express them. Of course no measure of discipline can overwhelm the ultimate physics of the situation, but the point is, we have established social norms and the corresponding physical disciplines so that we as a society, don’t piss willy-nilly at the drop of a hat. Further; we have not given the same level of attention to the destructive consequences the result from the loss of emotional bladder control.

While there are some generally vague social cues that signal what emotions are appropriate for what situation; largely speaking, the way we typically mediate emotional expression is crude an ineffective as a foundation for crafting an intentional life and a more nourishing social behavioral profile. The crux of this is the idea that if we were to craft the disciplines of emotional control and implement them sufficiently across our social landscape, we would then have much more capacity to respond constructively to situations, or at least minimize the damage that happens in the wake of emotions gone wild.

This observation is not meant to suggest that developing and implementing these techniques would usher in some utopian hug fest, nor is it meant to imply that this is the only way to address the issue. Obvious circumstances exist where we know certain segments of society are, in effect, emotional pressure cookers that are fertile fields for preventative actions, rather than developing the social structures to mitigate the aftermath of that neglect to prevent. This is meant as a pointer to significant missed opportunity for something so easily identifiable and potentially powerful as a means of forming stronger bonds of social unity among us.

We humans have precious little capacity to use logic and sound reason as a steering mechanism to guide our lives. We must leverage our meager capacity to the fullest if we are to have any realistic hope to cope with the age we live in, where we can do so much more with so much less both constructively and destructively. As it stands, our capacity to apply theory breaks down the moment our emotional hackles are raised and we transform into wild eyed banshees dipping our fangs and claws into each others flesh that would be better handled with appropriately measured responses.

We leave many scorched earth relationship landscapes in the wake of our lack of emotional bladder control. These might otherwise be avoided if those of us concerned with crafting a more constructive social landscape were focused on developing the techniques for, raising awareness of, and implementing the skills to spread the notion and the discipline of the value of situational emotional calibration – so that we are less likely to be subject to the damaging aftermath of breaking out the cannon to swat the fly.

How Technology Affects Human Society


An article July 27th 2015 in the Indiana Times identified a factory in China that is automated to the point where all the processes are operated by computer-controlled robots, numerical control machining equipment, unmanned transport trucks and automated warehouse equipment. This sparks the question; How are we going to value human contributions once machines are able to perform all the tasks? Are we ready to face these transformative issues that are on our near term horizon as a species?

Technology,Social,Cultural Impact,Economics,Future,Wisdom of Crowds,Social Systems,automated warehouse,automated,futurist,Automation (Industry),Society (Quotation Subject)

A Creative and Meaningful Life


Biology is built on the model of the seed. The collection of relationships that define each variety of biological life is housed in the seed and echoed through the generations. Anything novel added to the collection of relationships that also adds value is first embraced, then replicated. Over time, only that which contributes to being able to relate successfully to the environment is remembered and practiced. That which does not offer sustained value, eventually, and sometimes suddenly, fades to extinction. Sometimes extinction carries a whole community of relationships, that was otherwise valuable, to destruction.

If we define “creative” as something both new and useful; something that enables a valuable insight or behavior, that was not possible before, we can then use this working definition to see biology as a mechanism for the capture and preservation of creativity. The relationships that define biology as it stands today are a living chronicle of the collected acts of adaptive creativity. They are those collections of relationships that enable us to successfully navigate the shifting tides of environment.

Some of the values of these creative relationships are emerging, some fading from disuse because they no longer serve. Still others are being morphed or built upon to increase our capacity to sustainably navigate the environment. The value of individual traits stems from well they contribute to the whole community of relationships.

Acting as a contributor to the community of relationships that nourishes and sustains life is the definition of a creative and meaningful life. To cultivate some valuable behavior, insight or experience and share it with the whole community of life is the means by which we leave a lasting impression in the wake of our passing. This is the way we can sow lasting seeds.

This is the principle of the seed – the same way we can count the seeds in an apple but we cannot count the apples in a seed, we can count the actions we take to contribute to life, but we cannot count the life in our actions when they offer something of lasting value.

Our Hunger for Novelty


We get bored with the same thing after a period of time because the novelty wears off. Hedonic adaptation is the term used to describe how things decrease in their ability to stimulate us over time. A strategy for a satisfied life must include being stimulated with a certain amount of novelty in order to be satisfied. Without, it the core of our sense of satisfaction begins to fade and trouble can arise out of that dissatisfaction.

Some of us are not socialized in such a way that we understand and behave in ways that satisfy our hunger for stimulation constructively. We may crave novelty but not recognize how to respond constructively to that hunger. We might expect others to stimulate us and blame and be disappointed in them when they do not feed our need for stimulation. Some of us destructively attempt to satisfy it by clawing at the fabric of our social environment – perhaps causing drama or reacting to drama. (which is basically the tic and tock of the same drama clock) Still others of us may risk danger and or lifestyle stability just because we’re bored and don’t recognize how to feed our innate need for stimulation.

We can also get caught in a destructive spiral of demands for increasing need for stimulation. Addiction is one form of an over stimulation spiral where an increasing spiral of hunger for stimulation can hijack our capacity to function. In these cases our lives become unstable and spin out of control. If we condense too much rapid change (novelty) into our routine we eventually may be unable to satisfy our own hunger for stimulation and cause a corresponding chaos and depression. The bottom line: It’s important to have a routine, but it’s also important to break it once in a while.

The Echoes of Trauma


There are many “ifs” that contribute to determining what kind of life we’ll have. Assuming a baseline of physical health; if we’re raised in a social environment that is nurturing; – if we have role models that demonstrate how to deal effectively and constructively with stress; – if we have caretakers that nurture and model nourishing social behaviors toward oneself and others; – if the native talents we have are cultivated and directed toward contributing something of nourishing value in the context of the larger community; – and if we experience a fair amount of stability in our environment; then we have a fair shot at a positive and fulfilling life.

Our brain is a social organ that tunes our local biological functions to deal with the particulars of the environment it perceives it’s going to exist in. Our body builds its notion of “environment” from external signals. Particularly significant are the environmental cues we receive in the womb, at birth, and in the early formative years of life and later in adolescence. Not all of us get dealt a hand that inclines us to a high probability for success.

The perfect developmental environment is rare. The fact is, some of us are reared in an atmosphere laced with trauma and part of our developmental equipment is a biological profile that is inclined to have a well developed response to trauma. Fear is the primary response and the “fight or flight” behaviors that flow from fear shape our experience of life.

Trauma can be classified into two broad categories as situational or generational. There are also two types of intensite; single blow trauma (an acute sharp short duration type) and repeated trauma (a prolonged and repeated type):

Situational trauma stems from circumstances beyond control that either erode or explosively destroy the expectation of stability and/or manageable circumstances in life. Situational trauma can be acute or chronic in nature. Acute examples are things like a random shooting, a car accident, a house fire or a sudden death. Chronic situations can be a protracted health decline, a livelihood in jeopardy or other long term stressors.

Once trauma depletes or destroys of our sense of security, our body learns to replace the calm confidence we need to cultivate nourishing social bonds with fear. We develop defensive and protective behaviors that take many forms to compensate for the fear. Our reality becomes more reactive and stressed as a result. Our reaction to trauma can spiral into a self reinforcing prison of defensive and/or aggressive behavior cycles that trap us in a circle of stress.

Sometimes situational trauma is both acute and chronic like an accident with long term consequences. It can also be any number of life circumstances which influence our biology to divert large amounts of energy to protection and defense. In other words, our lives can be defined by overreaction to what is actually going on in the moment so we never get to live in the moment – we never get to simply smell the roses or enjoy a sunset because we are on edge. Trauma rewires our brain on a fundamental level. This rewiring can significantly change the face of what we experience for the rest of our lives.

Generational trauma is trauma of the institutional kind; it is a social tradition built of micro and macro traumas woven into the fabric of everyday social experience. Wars or severe environmental hardships can be the original source, but the response behaviors have become institutionalized as part of the culture. Because of our social nature, trauma can become a contagious way of life rooted in the social structures of families and communities. This generational and communal kind of trauma often takes the form of abuse, passive and active aggression, relational instability, destructive forms of acting out, addictions, toxic over protection, distortions of reality as a hiding place and magical thinking, hoarding, destructive enabling and relationships defined by broken promises that are embedded in the social climate.

Trauma shapes our view of the world. It may be that the notion of individual property rights arose as a defense out of historic traumas such as famines and the need to hoard in order to survive harsh winters, droughts, ice ages and the like. The common thread about culturally instilled trauma is that the social environment communicates clearly that nothing is certain – that abundance and stability are illusions and nothing can be counted on unless some extreme measures are taken. A harsh edge can develop in a person or culture that suffers trauma.

In our early years our brains attempt to assess and prepare us for the social landscape we will need to eek out a living. If our brain sees a climate of abuse and betrayal, it wires itself to live and function in that kind of environment. Toxic social settings of all kinds can damage and destroy the potential we have to negotiate our adult social environments in nourishing and effective ways. They can trap us beneath the threshold of our full potential. There is also a preservation effect as we project and perpetuate what we expect from reality onto our social landscape. We can become trapped in world where our vision is limited by our own prejudices. This can induce cycles of stress that not only come from external sources, but that we learn to cultivate ourselves.

The plain reality is; not all of us get what we need to realize a fulfilling and satisfied life. We may know people who walk upright and seemingly function in the adult world, wielding adult responsibilities, yet possessing the emotional frailty, nearsightedness, temperament, and crude self centered social skills of children. These are the descendants of trauma: People who live and cultivate circumstances characterized by defense and aggression on a regular basis. We can be structured to unknowingly reject anything that could bring stability to our lives so that our body can be prepared for the chaos we project on our future. We might reject those capable of loving us and are instead attracted to those that will reject us. The fact that this kind of behavior often brings the chaos we fear goes unnoticed. Instead the chaos we induce is seen as proof that our fears were founded. Our reality can become increasingly reactive perpetuating the trauma.

Trauma can wire us to live a life frozen in a state of stress. We may change the superficial paint job, but the emotional cycle repeats. Strings of failed relationships, addictions or destructive attachments to people and behaviors that destroy intimacy and stability become the norm. We simultaneously pass along our particular brand of reality and behavioral coping mechanisms to those unfortunate enough to come within our toxic sphere of influence. In effect; we unwittingly become the very toxin that once damaged or destroyed us.

Our biology is geared to deal with fear in specific ways. One common understanding of stress behavior is called the fight or flight response. This is when we instinctively avoid or confront fearful situations. Another lesser known strategy is called the “Tend-and-Befriend” response. This involves responding to fear by cultivating a protective social layer. This tend and befriend response is arguably another form of defensive flight.1 In all cases, we respond by either defensive or offensive behaviors. We might also blend these strategies bouncing between fight and flight or combining the two, but the foundation of stress responses are centered on fight and flight.

Trauma can lead to things like behavioral addictions and a wide variety of autoimmune diseases like arthritis, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, diabetes and so on. A host of mental disorders like PTSD, anxiety and panic disorder are also part of the realm of possibilities. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is yet another party favorite of unresolved trauma. With an uncontrollable compulsive focus on things that do not resolve, but avoid the trauma, OCD is a classic avoidance (flight) technique.

Eating disorders are another common part of the behavioral repertoire of unresolved trauma. Cycles of conflict are also common to sufferers of unresolved trauma as is the practice of developing relationships based on an unhealthy demand for protection. Hoarding and becoming emotionally dependent on people or groups as protectors is sometimes seen. Conflict, avoidance or tend-befriend behaviors are a common thread that runs through the behavior and experience profile of unresolved trauma sufferers.

The fight response is often expressed through a compulsion to have excessive control over others, hyper competitive personalities, narcissism, hyper-dominance, or an inordinate drive to control in any other form as a means of cultivating the illusion that we’re in control is a fight response. Fighters often attract “flighters” (tend and befriend is a form of flight). The fact that our compulsions are in control often goes unnoticed by us. Response to trauma acts as a seed that produces more traumas.

The work it takes to rewire our brains to effectively deal with reality on reality’s terms is not easy. It is also not something a sane person would recommend we attempt to undertake ourselves if we have experienced life altering trauma. It is also unwise to attempt to get help from someone who shares the same pain. Unless an individual has experienced a resolution and is living a stable life, they are not fit to be healers even though they are often enlisted by trauma sufferers.

The potential for remedy does however start with a recognition within us that there is a problem. This recognition is the starting place. If we examine the relationship landscape of our lives and see repeating patterns of stress and out of control situations, or the erosion of relationships and activities that are necessary to sustain our life, this is a sign we need help to work through these residual echoes of trauma. As has been said in many ways; “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

The echoes of trauma are not typically something we can think our way out of. Remember; trauma rewires our brain to relive stress. Our brain becomes seasonally habituated to produce the chemicals that drive the defensive and aggressive behaviors associated with fear. Establishing the discipline to act our way out of trauma with behavioral and environmental changes is very difficult without outside help, and arguably it is also unnecessary. There are people well trained to guide others out of the prison trauma can lock us in.

Words can help us recognize, but they cannot typically bring resolution to trauma. We are not human knowings, we are human beings, and being is what needs to be re-sculpted to bring a resolution to self defeating behavioral drives that arises out of the soil of fear. Resolution takes action. The help of an experienced guide to deal with the real situation is essential because the echoes of unresolved trauma will reverberate for a lifetime as well as spread.2 The alternative to dealing with embedded fear is to relive the trauma over and over.

Here are some useful articles on dealing with the aftermath of trauma:


2Here is some additional information on how trauma rewires our brain.