Monthly Archives: July 2012

It’s in the Water

Every now and then something comes along to interrupt the polite illusory fiction we like to tell ourselves about how deep our understanding of reality is. This video is just one of those shattering reminders.

 

*Note* The information in the video is not widely accepted in scientific circles.

The Power of a Smile

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(Photo credit: Łukasz Strachanowski)

In 1989, Robert Zajonc published a study on the emotional effect of producing a smile.[1] The subjects in the study were asked to repeat certain vowel sounds that forced their faces into a variety of different expressions. The sounds were grouped so that some would force the facial characteristics of a smile such as a long “e”. Others were geared toward facial characteristics that tended toward dissatisfaction such as a long “u”. The subjects were then asked how they felt and the results were remarkable. Those that made the motions associated with smiling reported feeling better than those that made motions associated with dissatisfaction.

This study has some far reaching implications if we take the time to extract the nutrients out of it by applying it to our lives. If we recognize the significance, we can gain some insight into an age old chicken and egg question related to emotions and behaviors. The power of the emotional currents we experience in life, at least in part, come from how we behave. Some of us get this chicken and egg scenario the other way around where we allow our behaviors to flow from our emotions. While this autopilot mode may be fine if we are experiencing relational harmony and all is right with the world, the picture is not so rosy for all of us. Some of us regularly struggle with bouts of emotional agony even though we recognize that at least in part it is at our own hand. This type of scenario, if left to the winds of emotion followed by behavior can cause a vicious negative feedback loop that traps us in cycles of misery.

There is no suggestion here that emotions “always” follow behaviors and that’s all there is to it. There appears to be a dynamic interplay at work between emotions and behaviors. There are also some cases where legitimate physiological reasons such as hormone imbalances from physical damage can cause such things as depression and so on. This is more to make the point that there is also an opportunity for us to at least participate in setting the tone for how we experience life by committing to the discipline to act as we choose to be, not necessarily how we are at the moment. Our choices on how to behave can actually contribute to bringing a better state of being to reality.

The power of choice is embedded in this insight into our nature. While it may be limited in nature, it is still something worth absorbing and translating into reality through disciplined choice. For instance; if we want to choose to become a more caring and sensitive person, it will not happen by thinking it alone. We must actually begin behaving as a caring person would, then the associated emotions and so on will follow. The key here is choosing a discipline that ultimately feeds onto our chemistry. As it turns out, there may be some wisdom underneath that old saying; “fake it till you make it”

[1] “Emotion and Facial Efference: A Theory Reclaimed” by Robert B. Zajonc Also see “Facial Efference and the Experience of Emotion” by Pamela K. Adelmann and Robert B. Zajonc

Parasites of all Persuasions Still Suck

English: Dicrocoelium dendriticum egg in an un...

Dicrocoelium dendriticum

We’re all familiar with typical parasitic behavior. A parasite latches on or invades a host organism where it feeds in ways that damage the host organism while benefiting the parasite. Ticks and leaches might come to mind when we think of parasites. There are plenty of run of the mill parasites jibber jabbering around the biosphere sucking life from hosts with a combination of exploiting weaknesses and using a simplistic bag of tricks to get their way. Let’s take a closer look at a few of them.

Female mosquitos use a combination of pain killer and blood thinner to plunge their nose into a mammalian bloodstream to suck out some blood. They actually don’t use the blood for themselves; they use the proteins and iron in blood to help make their eggs. The use of blood thinner and a painkiller demonstrates insight about the relationship that must take place to parasitically drain another organism. This insight is not unusual. Some other parasites express a great deal more insight about hijacking the mechanisms of the hosts on which they feed. Some of these take a parasitic ride on the mosquito. In the mosquito’s process of getting proteins and iron to feed their eggs they might also barf up a few other nasty parasitic payloads that happen to be swimming in their saliva. These can cause such things as malaria, encephalitis, West Nile disease and Yellow Fever which are also based on parasites that work at a cellular level. These tiny parasites within a parasite have the potential for much more devastating effects and considerable more insight into not only the workings of, but how to exploit the mechanisms of the host organism to its own advantage. For instance; viruses can trick cells to gain access then edit the cell’s metabolism to make copies of itself to the point where the call bursts allowing the virus to spread to other cells. It’s a fabulous intermingled web of parasitism.

There are still more parasites that appear to have an amazing amount of insight into the behavioral patterns of the multiple hosts on which they feed. Take the Lancet liver fluke[1] for example. It rewires the brain circuits of an ant host[2] to rethink what it needs to do. Once inside the ant, it performs a little brain surgery so that it stops doing what ants normally do and instead tricks it to think that it has discovered a life mission; to attach itself to the tip of blade of grass. Interestingly enough, this is exactly where the parasite needs to be in order to be eaten by a passing grazer such as cows or sheep. The fluke considers the ant a sacrifice that it is willing to make on the journey to the next exciting phase of its life. The creature migrates to the liver where it dines on the host, matures and mates. The fertile eggs then migrate to the digestive tract where they are excreted in the feces of the host. A snail[3] which happens to eat grazer feces becomes infected with the parasite. It defends itself by generating cysts to wall of the infection and excretes them out in its slime trail, which just so happens to be a source of moisture for ants which unwittingly eat them and nourish them into microscopic brain surgeons.

Hairworms are another parasite with a talent for brain surgery. It lives inside grasshoppers where it then rewires the grasshopper’s central nervous system to deceive them to think it would be a great idea to take a swim. The grasshopper drowns, but the hairworms get to swim out to continue their life cycle. This talent for brain surgery is not limited to tiny worms. Rabies is a virus which has amazing capabilities to edit the neurology of its host in order to generate behaviors that serve its purpose at the expense of the host.

A candy producer in the Philippines called Kopiko graciously sent obstetric doctors candy samples to give away to pregnant mothers. It just so happens that they may have had as much insight into behaviors as parasitic flukes. They had discovered that whatever pregnant women eat affects both their unborn child’s development and their future habits and tastes. Babies receive queues on what is safe from their mother’s metabolism. This influences their food choices among other things after birth.[4]  In a stroke of parasitic genius or coincidence, Kopiko later released a coffee flavored like the candy which the children were greatly attracted to. According to Martin Lindstrom,[5] mothers in the Philippines would even give agitated newborn babies the candy flavored coffee, which they reported “calmed them down”.

It may not be pleasant to face our darker nature. We could attempt to wall the notion that we parasitically feed on ourselves with some clever defensive ideological pearls such as “I wouldn’t do that.” In this case, we would be like the snail in the fluke story, passing a trail that would make the issue go away for a while, but setting it up to return. To ignore this part of our nature doesn’t change the fact that we are infected with a parasite that is destroying us, and it is us.

There is a direct parallel between the behaviors of marketers and parasitic flukes. It may not be easy to face our darker side as people, but to ignore the facts will not erase their destructive effects on our lives. We need to understand that becoming educated about the shark infested waters we swim in is a necessary survival skill if we want to be free to choose and not become the zombie of parasitic forces, no matter what their biological origin. Even more than becoming aware, we need to actively participate in changing this relational climate if we are to continue as a species. Every element of real wealth on our planet is built on cooperative relationships, not parasitic or predatory ones. This is true within our body. It is also true within and between species. It is time for us to understand the underpinnings of poverty and wealth and begin disciplining ourselves at every level of society to express this behaviorally. Our world and our individual lives will be richer from the effort.


[1] Dicrocoelium dendriticum

[4] For more information read Dr. Josephine Todrank at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Her work indicates that the developing fetus develops an increased affinity for things that come from the mother, including the influence from food products in her metabolism. The sensory system is shaped by the odors in the mother’s metabolism so that newborns are more sensitive to those odors and tend to prefer the foods associated with the odors. What women eat and drink during pregnancy has a cascade effect on what the child will be attracted to and/or repulsed by. Read “Nature-nurture interactions in the nose and how they affect food preferences” by Josephine Todrank Heth and Giora Heth

[5] Martin Lindstrom is the author of “Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy”

Emotional Healing

We have all experienced hurt in our lives, both physical and emotional. While our physical body largely goes into automatic healing mode whenever it perceives an injury, our emotional selves are sometimes left to flounder with untended wounds because the process for healing is not as automatic. Some of us are influenced by certain cultural values that can actually undermine the healing process. Like our physical body, there is a specific context of relational components that must take place in our emotional state of being in order for the emotional healing process to take place. Since an important part of all healing is based on relationship conditions that support recovery, this makes understanding the nature of healing extremely important so we can effectively apply it to emotional wounds.

There are 4 behavioral responses on a cellular level that occur in response to injury. They are as follows:

  1. Atrophy – Decreasing the function of cells
  2. Hypertrophy – Increasing the size of cells
  3. Hyperplasia – Accelerating the replication of cells
  4. Metaplasia – Replacing one tissue type with another

When we use our biology as the lens to look at the conditions that help facilitate emotional healing, we see that the same things we need physically also need to be applied to healing psychological wounds. Here are some things we can learn about emotional healing from our biology. This is not meant as any kind of complete recipe for healing. It is only to point out that our biological systems tell us what we need to know to make the psychological process healing work.

Atrophy – Decreasing the function: Taking the appropriate time to deal with emotional hurt is important. Some of us have the impression that it is best to just push it out of the way and soldier on. While this may be necessary depending on the immediate situations in our lives, pushing emotions down long term strangles the healing process. We need to afford ourselves the appropriate time to rest in order to devote the energy the healing process needs to move forward.

Hypertrophy – Increasing the size: It is important to realize that emotional wounds increase our sensitivity. This is how our psychological system communicates that issues need attention. We have to recognize that we are in a more vulnerable state at this time. Exposing ourselves to challenges that we would otherwise be able to handle with ease may now be overwhelming. As we heal, this will change. Until then, we need to be careful about the situations we expose ourselves to.

Hyperplasia – Accelerating the replication: When we allow ourselves the right conditions to heal we minimize the overall pain that can be generated by emotional wounds.

Metaplasia – Replacing one tissue type with another: If the conditions are right to go through the process of emotional healing we can also find that we can be changed positively by the experience. In the long run, we can be better adapted to deal with issues, or become a valuable source to help heal someone else suffering from the same type of wound.

The Challenge of Social Progress in the Context of Culture

Thomas Jefferson wrote these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” The fact that he also owned hundreds of slaves and did not include women might look like a glaringly obvious hypocrisy, compounded by shortsightedness. While this criticism might be legitimate, to be fair, we must view the things people say and do in the cultural context in which they live.

The words Jefferson wrote were centered on refuting the cultural idea of “The divine right of kings” which held that a monarch was not subject to any authority on earth, but received their right to rule directly from God. He saw the theory of divine right as a recipe for governmental tyranny with no accountability to the very people whose lives were affected by the whim of monarchs. (Particularly King George III) The fact that he ignored slavery and women may seem like a gross hypocrisy oversight from our current day cultural lens, but Jefferson lived in quite a different cultural context.

Even great thinkers like Jefferson can appear shortsighted in a different cultural context. We are all influenced by the ideas we are exposed to within our culture. This influence is particularly powerful when the ideas are well established when we are children. As we develop in a womb of ideas that seem natural to us and this makes it very difficult to see beyond their possible limitations. It might never occur to us to question some ideas because of the frothy justifications that bubble out of the cultural voice box.

We can learn some very useful things about ourselves if we honestly consider the impact of our culture on our perception. Here are just a few:

Learning to question is by no means a passive activity. It is extremely hard work, but it is also worthwhile. The view is worth the climb because real progress, both personal and cultural, is born of this kind of strenuous effort.

Every generation, taken as a whole, has a tendency to think they have arrived, rather than that they are a leg of a continuing journey. If we understand accurately where we are, we are better equipped to bring something of nourishing value the table that can help in our development toward a better world.

Most cultures tend to conflate what is familiar with is what is right. There is a powerful influence of culture on what we learn to be both attracted to and repulsed by. Morals in a cultural context are some of the hardest of things to question.

We typically confuse the progression of time with the progression of culture.  We could be tolerating things of much greater injustice today but still sincerely believe we’ve advanced beyond our ancestors. History clearly teaches us that this is not necessarily so. Cultures throughout history have been blinded by misconceptions. Some have plunged us backwards and this backwards momentum is only apparent in hindsight and even then; in the context of a potentially distorted current view.

There’s no guarantee that the values we hold as individuals and as a culture are in our own best-interest, even though we see them through that lens. Even scientific advance in the form of greater technology as a cultural value is not automatically better. For instance; if we honestly evaluate our capacity to get along with each other we might question whether we should dabble too much in things that can be leveraged to harm each other before we’ve developed the vision and disciplines related to understanding we all swim in the same global fish bowl. Advances in technology that outpace our wisdom and temperance is at best, a very dangerous game of leapfrog.

We don’t always know what are cultural values are because they are buried in din of habits that go unnoticed. The same way we might overlook the fine print on a watch we wear every day, or the smudge of dirt on a light switch, what we see all the time tends to fade into the background. Cruelty and other injustices are no exception to this tendency. That is the same affliction that Jefferson may have suffered, and possibly why slavery and women’s rights went unnoticed.

Cultures have only so much tolerance for change. Even if Jefferson had recognized the inherent rights of all people to liberty, he may have also known this would have been too heavy a swing of culture for the people of his time to tolerate. Had he decided to fight all those battles, he would have recognized that he would probably have accomplished none. We have to understand and take people and cultures where they are, not simply impose our current point of view. The same way materials have only so much tolerance before they shatter, the ideological materials that compose a culture are no different. We have to have a certain tolerance no matter how deeply we see into the future, not because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is the only way we will ever see real and substantive progress.

Mental Hoarding and Creativity

0067-CreativePeople

Creative people have messy minds. They typically don’t throw things out, so their minds often look like the cluttered living spaces of a hoarder. They accumulate various droplets of information from a wide variety of disciplines that sloshes around in a mental sea. They also play with the currents. They move this sea of ideas the same way the moon moves the ocean currents around the globe. The waves and the foam churn by the shores as the creative mind mixes and remixes them until something novel and useful emerges from the chaos.

How does this hoarding factor relate to creativity? Information in functional silos is trivia. One can collect most or all the known trivia on a particular topic and become an expert, but this is merely a regurgitating process. Imitation is not innovation. For the expert, precision is the operational dynamic. 1 = 1 = 2. Creativity happens when ideas have sex and produce babies. For the creative person, the joining of ideas with different genetic makeups generates novel properties that did not exist before. For the creative person, like biological reproduction: 1 = 1 = 3.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/opinion/sunday/its-not-mess-its-creativity.html

Passionate Curiosity

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If we scan the human social landscape for what we could loosely describe as “the adult world”, we see so few of us who have retained our passion. Somewhere on the journey from childhood to physical maturity many of us have lost the passion and unbridled curiosity of our youth. Our once white hot passion transitions over time to a smoldering ember. Some of us hiccup, belch and scream as we slowly fade to ashes in our twenties and thirties. Those of us that have replaced wide eyed wonder with mind numbing routines and stoic mediocrity might look out at the few that retained their passionately engaged in life and wonder; ”What special talent do they have?”

Albert Einstein once said; “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” He didn’t think of himself as smarter, just more persistent. It is true that the things that keep the fires of passion stoked in us change over the years. Candy bars and swing sets give way to more adult appropriate tastes… perhaps sports, hobbies or social groups. While breast milk and warm embraces satisfy our needs as infants, our needs grow and diversify as our body does. If we do not embrace these new forms of nourishment, such as the need for significance – to provide something of nourishing value in the context of the larger community – we starve. If we fail to shift from a self centered locus of identity to one based on embracing the larger community of life as we mature, the once vibrant canvas of our life become painted over with the dull tones of suffocating mediocrity.

Those of us swamped by the waters of ritual, that have lost the meaning – draw our last breath as we sink beneath the surface of the excruciatingly mundane. To realize our potential we must learn to actively participate in feeding our hungers in the context of our changing nutritional requirements as we mature. This includes our need to be of value as well as to receive value in the context of community.

The fact is; reality is a big place. As living creatures, we face many challenges that require bravery, focus, discipline and sacrifice. The upside of these otherwise daunting challenges is that they afford us the opportunity to engage in purposeful and meaningful activities. The downside is engaging is not optional. A passive approach to life is not an effective strategy to be satisfied, much less realize our full potential. We must take an active interest in life, including our own nature, and translate that to something of value and meaning. For this to happen we must cling to our passion and curiosity as if our life depends on it, because… it does.

The Wealth and Poverty of Ideas:

Nutrition

(Photo credit: The Noun Project)

The English word theory comes from the Greek root “theoria”, which means roughly; “to look at”. Theories are the ideas through which we look at things – a lens. Like any lens, theories can contain distortions and flaws can affect the image it renders. Theories are the pivotal ideas we use to navigate as individuals and as a culture. This is sometimes called our “world view” or our “cultural lens”. The fact that ideas powerfully steer what we experience does not speak at all to their level of effectiveness as a steering mechanism toward a satisfied experience of life. Distortions and flaws produced through the lens of our ideas can diminish the accuracy of the view and consequently destroy purposeful navigation or worse, lead us to passionately participate in our own destruction.

Some of us struggle to navigate effectively toward fulfillment. This is even more obvious when we broaden our view to include larger cultural contexts. While diminished or thwarted fulfillment can stem from circumstances outside our control, it often stems from distortions and flaws in our lens. To this degree, finding ideas that enable clear vision with respect to ourselves are of great value because with them, we can effectively steer our lives toward fulfillment. How to measure the effectiveness of the lens through which we see ourselves is what we will focus on here.

The value of the lens we use to navigate can be measured by its ability to accurately represent what is going on in reality, and in its predictive power. The predictive nature of sound theoretical ideas enables us to see the possibilities we would otherwise miss. Sound theory forms a map that can effectively point to a destination and help avoid pitfalls such as wasted effort and danger.

Another quality of clear vision is how it affords us the capacity to navigate with intention and purpose. In this sense, clear vision is the cornerstone of freedom and choice. With clarity of vision, we can effectively plan before we act, without it, we can plan, but not effectively. We have less freedom and less choice if we are in the poverty of deception and/or ignorance. Reality sets the rules for what is possible, but the wealth of opportunities available to us must first be within our field of vision.

If we objectively observe our current capacity to navigate toward fulfillment as individuals and as a global culture, it’s clear we have deficiencies. While theory doesn’t translate into a reality of “being” without concrete corresponding action, it is the nonetheless a necessary first step in the process. If we can’t see choice because of deception or ignorance, the result is the same – choice eludes us and we are engulfed in an experience impoverished by our lack of vision.

As biological creatures, the lens by which we can navigate toward fulfillment must by necessity involve a clear understanding of our nature. In addition to necessity, we also need sufficient vision. It is necessary to know that we must breathe air, but this is not sufficient by itself. The integrity of our biological system is dependent on meeting a host of needs that range from chemical to social to environmental. The more we understand the total context of biological needs on which we are dependent, the better equipped we are to effectively respond to them.

This is just one example of how our biology speaks to what we need to know about ourselves and what fulfills us. Another example can be found in observing that we are born dependent on specific kinds of nourishment and as mature adults we also need to take care to nourish in order to maintain the continuation of our species. Depending where we are on the maturation spectrum we need to both give and receive differing forms of nourishment to each other. To sum up, we are part of a community that hungers for balance to both give and receive nourishment in the context of a sustainable environment. This is the cornerstone of a fulfilled life. If we behave this way toward each other, toward ourselves and toward the environment on which we depend we can experience a more fulfilled life. If we do not, we will not. It is that simple.

Those of us who are most satisfied do not occupy ourselves with excesses on either end of the hunger spectrum if it is within our capacity to influence our environment to this end. We find ways to authentically produce something of real nourishing value in the context of the larger community of life and we are open to receive nourishing value from that community. Biologically speaking, fulfillment is defined by an economy based on the exchange of mutually beneficial values. The cornerstone of all activity in a system of biological integrity is active participation to bring balance – satisfaction, not excess or malnourishment.

Ironically the limits by which the balance of relational needs we have are met is the foundation of real wealth. This is spoken through every fiber of our biological nature. The fact that our cultural values are out of alignment with this is a statement about the deficiency of our cultural lens. Those of us with the vision to influence the environment so that it sustainably delivers the nourishing economy of relationships on which we depend have the capacity to produce the most personal and social wealth. Enough really is enough. Any deviation toward excess or starvation is poverty. Life is an idea worth living by.

[1] For more information look up the term “probiotic”.

[2] See “The human microbiome project” Turnbaugh PJ, Ley RE, Hamady M, Fraser-Liggett CM, Knight R, Gordon JI. Center for Genome Sciences, Washington University School of Medicine. For more information on how this works in humans and other functional biological systems at differing perspectives, look up the term “superorganism” and “the Gaia hypothesis”. This is not an endorsement of the ideas associated with these terms in their entirety, merely to serve as pointers for a broader perspective.

Is cannibalism alive and well in the 21st century?

The spread of human cannibalism (anthropophagy...

The spread of human cannibalism (anthropophagy) in the late 19th century.

It is no secret to those of us with the capacity to honestly observe human conduct, that some of us are willing to exploit weaknesses within our own species for our own gain. Parasitic and predatory behaviors that are simultaneously by and toward our species is not news. We swim in shark infested social waters, and some of us behave in the role of the shark. The practices that fall into parasitic and predatory categories both toward and within our species are both a literal and a figurative tearing at our own flesh. The term “social cannibalism” fits to describe these behaviors that generate self-inflicted wounds.

Social cannibalism can take on many forms. It doesn’t have to be as obvious as robbery, extortion, certain types of aggression, dominance, child abuse and the like. In fact, many more subtle forms of social cannibalism are arguably much more destructive. One of the reasons for this is that they are often couched in layers of socially acceptable behavior. These behaviors are not associated with their destructive outcomes. They are compartmentalized by narrow perspectives.

Some forms of social cannibalism ride on a wave of behaviors that are highly valued from a cultural perspective. Because the destructive effects of these practices are hidden because they are so far removed from their causes, it makes them harder to spot for what they are. Consequently, they are more difficult to evaluate, much less prevent and/or eradicate.

Here’s an example of subtle social cannibalism: Armies of “consumer psychologists”, experts on human behavior and motivation, are paid handsomely to conjure up tactical methods to influence people to tether themselves to products and services that are out of sync with what is in their best interests. This same behavior benefits product and service providers while keeping those that work to buy them are trapped in a vortex of parasitic exploitation. Product branding techniques are very successful even though they are quite detrimental depending on the context.[1] There are people in the U.S. with dependent children who have no home, yet they have brand name cell phones, drink brand name soda, eat brand name potato chips, even smoke brand name cigarettes. Brand loyalty over objective self-interest reveals something particularly unsettling about both our capacity to be manipulated to our own detriment, and our willingness to exploit this vulnerability among ourselves.

It is plain that we are susceptible to ideas that are not in line with sound decision making. As a global culture, we tend to behave as if the whole of the living biosphere of which we are part is at our disposal-for our use-to whatever degree we can leverage our intellect and technology to exploit it. We have a long legacy of human centered behavior.  At times in our history exploitation was arguably a necessity in order to survive. Exploitative behaviors were not as much of an issue when we didn’t wield as much influence over our environment as we do now. Our ability to leverage technology to influence the environment beyond what it is sustainably able to deliver has not been tempered by the knowledge that we depend on this same environment for our very existence.

As scientific knowledge of how fragile and interdependent we are on the whole body of life has emerged, it appears it has not affected our culture as much as one might think. We seem to be content to rub doubting and dismissive words over our destructive deeds as if they have some kind of magical power to negate the effects of reality. Although these magic wordy spells appear to move such things as our sense of self-justification, reality does not appear to be moved at all by them. The consequences of our actions invariably flow whether we deal honestly with reality or not. The fact is, our willingness to do whatever we can without respect to the long term consequences is a danger to our continuing existence.

As a consequence of our shortsightedness, we do things because we can, and because we are so easily manipulated on emotional levels. Our behaviors are not based on whether or not they confer benefits in the context of the global body of life in which we exist. Our self-destructive values do appear to be consistent. We are shortsighted in the context of the whole earth, but we also perform with this same behavioral dynamic toward each other in personal relationships. Addicts are willing to selfishly drain the energy and resources from the people in their immediate social landscape to the point where the relational system can no longer support their addiction and it collapses. Enablers are addicted to the notion that their role is one of self-sacrifice to the point of their own destruction. They vainly attempt to please the bottomless needy pit of the addict to the point of their own collapse, then wonder why they failed. Although neither end of the exploitative spectrum is a recipe for fulfillment, we appear to sustain them in the short run with magic wordy excuses, avoidance and distortions until reality inevitably comes calling.

Let’s make sure we are clear on what the reality of our biology says about fulfillment. The heart does not attempt to dominate or drain the other organs in the body. The heart provides a valuable service to the rest of the community of relationships that compose the body, and the rest of the organs do the same for the heart. The heart must also be open to receive nourishing value from the rest of the community of relationships of which it is part. This economy, based on a balanced approach to giving and receiving is what sustains the whole body. This message, spoken through our biology is the cornerstone of what brings wealth and/or poverty to our experience of life on every scale. This includes our social structures. The plain truth is; if we align our values with those communicated through our true biological identity then we can realize the fullest experience of life. If we do not, we cannot.

Some of us frankly do not have the capacity to tell whether we’re being invited to dinner as part of the menu and not as a guest. Our capacity to think critically and respond appropriately to danger, even from each other is a social necessity to avoid being eaten. Biology is the model that best speaks to what we need to know. We provide the CO2 and nitrates the fruit tree needs to live, and the fruit tree provides the carbohydrates and oxygen we need to live. We need to recognize the message speaking to us through the body of life. Biology is a guidebook that tells us what we need to know in order to survive and be fulfilled. The alternative is inviting ourselves to our own dinner where we also just so happen to be the meal – social cannibalism.

Do you have any ideas on how to apply this message in social, educational, family, interpersonal relationship and environmental settings? I would love to hear your thoughts.


[1] For more information read: “Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy” by Martin Lindstrom. For a history of public manipulation look up “Edward Bernays” and “Engineering of Consent”. One example being the transformation of views toward war in America in the 1910’s. Another is the conversion of attitudes towards women’s smoking from a social taboo to socially acceptable in the 1920s.

Love Diverts Disaster

Love Diverts Disaster.