Tag Archives: Community

From Existence To Significance

Life A limited Time Offer

My guess would be most of us either get swallowed by the circumstances we’re bathed in through the collective effects of our developmental environment, finding some reactive equilibrium with that happenstantial field of influences that define our initial form, or we wake up from that opaque mist to recognize that we also have a voice in the field of influences that defines our experience. We may discover that if we work intentionally, effectively and proportionally, that our voice might cultivate something significant rather than merely reflective – something that does more than reflect the defining qualities of the environment, but also plays a role in defining.

Cultivating something significant often requires disciplined effort and patience to shepherd nascent forms to fruition where they produce emergent properties, but the cost of doing so can render an effective player in the field of relationships that defines what we experience, and perhaps emergent properties that will pay continual constructive dividends. Nature clearly communicates that we can count the seeds in an apple, but not the apples in a seed if that seed is cultivated – nourished and protected through development to its mature state of fruition. This cultivation aspect of being might be the “why” we are here, but it is more certainly the big “if” in terms of whether or not we realize the opportunities that are presented out of the cauldron of relationships that define us.

We can make the transition from that which has been defined by circumstance, to that which also plays a role in defining circumstances, but only if we first recognize, then take the proportional actions to overcome the things that would otherwise turn our presence into a neutral mush carried on the currents of environmental whim, or worse, to become an agent of reflected destruction. Some of the common stories that emerge from the field of defining relationships that we’re both baptized in and have some measure of ability to participate in include environments that falsely convey we have no significance – that our voice is of no effect and that we are solely the victims of an authoritarian fate, or perhaps an environment that has so shocked us with a series of capricious horrors and injustices that it causes us to see reality through a distorted lens which renders an image of tragedy and misfortune that is inevitable and that total occupation with self defense and protection are of paramount importance, or perhaps our social environment coupled with our innate capacity for vision has revealed to us the tragic and arguably insane failure of the collective social economy that powerfully defines our experience to sufficiently recognize, value and express the behaviors that nourish our mature potential – a maturity which is only possible in a climate of sustained mutually nourishing and protective developmental behaviors aimed at serving each other’s common interest. The fields of opportunity that we leave fallow can make us the authors of our poverty, and in that poverty we can get stuck in a vortex of self reinforcing destruction making our circumstance worse by filtering the world through a lens of dominance. One where it appears to make sense to force compliance from each other with the aim of getting the most we can get, rather than searching for and cultivating commitment between each other to gain what is rendered by the emergent fruit of community. We can either be caught spinning in a turbulent eddy of malignant selfishness that takes us in vicious circles that go nowhere, or we can tend to the fruits that are produced through committed cooperation with and cultivation of each other, and the extended body of life we depend on.

In the light of the necessities to effectively steer with intention through the currents that define us – to participate in where the currents carry us – we would do well to search for what it takes to cultivate that which is most significant to that end – that which has the most effect to tame and intentionally direct the environmental waters that define our experience. We can only realize the strength of that steering activity by both finding and actively participating in the relationships that forge meaningful significance while also mitigating the antagonistic forces that could interfere of interrupt that process. Because we so often start with a lens that was forged in a blend of complacency and trauma, we may not be equipped to see clearly what our best way forward is. Once our lens is refined to see with enough depth to understand where our opportunities are sourced, we can then see our progress is built on a complex and nuanced vision where consequences are not immediately connected in time through a linear process, but are displaced in time, and that development to maturity requires sacrifice in order to bear the eventual fruit.

Our best way forward is not visible using a simplistic, linear and narrowly temporal lens. Although simplistic lenses that do not consider, much less prioritize, the necessities of development over time are what we begin with in our ignorance and also what we gravitate to in times of perceived stress, they are not what serves as an accurate map to our most mature state of being. The effects of past traumas etched in our collective psyche can become a self perpetuating eddy that results in why we sometimes operate on a cultural level with a simplistic lens that seems to infer that serving the self to the exclusion of the community is the obvious choice; and it is in the short run, even though it is ultimately self defeating when the more complex tapestry of relationships that develop over time and space is considered. Our traumas and the resulting myopia may also explain why many of the superficial rituals of social recognition we currently chase and build our dedicated behavioral monuments to are also less connected to significance than they are to a self referential service of themselves – to the status quo – of serving our more immediate gratifications in a bonfire of vanities, or, as William Shakespeare’s character Macbeth so eloquently put about the net result of certain lives:

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more. It is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

As a result of recognizing that the road we currently travel most is a recipe for complacency at best and at worst one peppered with self indulgent distractions that lead us in directionless circles, we might be compelled by that dour vision to take the road less traveled. The unbeaten path does require that we brave the dangers of the unknown and or dedicate ourselves to the disciplines that are valuable yet may be unappreciated, or even detested and actively resisted. But this is what we must undertake for the opportunities that are only harvested by way of that path to be rendered. It is only by way of this more difficult organized effort that we can have a chance to realize and get the chance to embody significance – to make our lives meaningfully matter in a sea of what would otherwise be mere existence.

As a result of seeing the stagnating effect of what is rendered by actions taken on the heels of a shallow vision that looks no deeper than serving the brief periods of satisfaction of our baser drives, we might be inclined to focus instead on the things that do not necessarily tilt toward service of these superficial passions alone, but dig deeper to see something more difficult, more significant. With a full spectrum vision we can become like the parent that is compelled by that deeper vision to act with determination on behalf of a child’s development, sometimes in the context of the myopic protests of that same child. This deeper commitment is forged by a deeper vision. A vision that sees our common child as the extended community of relationships we live in and depend on for nourishment and protection, that defines our being and our experience, and that we also derive our significance from by serving something of nourishing and or protective value in the context of that community.

I may be missing something(s)

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The Art of Simplicity


The burrow is the domain of creatures less able, or perhaps less willing to contend with the kinds of adversity that exist in the full light of day. It’s eyes become tuned to the blacks and grays of the shadows. It scurries out in reluctant circles to find food, doing only what is needed to satisfy the drives that compel it to act, all the while terrified it might become food itself. In this world, devoid of colors by way of the limited perspective through which reality is rendered in the dark, it carves out an existence beneath the threshold of possibility, in a cocoon of safety spun with fear. These creatures of the burrowed dark have, in effect, determined that the cost of contention with a full spectrum world is too high – or perhaps too frightening. Either way, it trades vision for safety, and in so doing sacrifices possibility on the altar of fear.

Each choice presented by nature is bloody – every proposition comes with benefit and sacrificial costs. We can sacrifice any hope progress by not taking the risks to brave the light of day. We can gain safety at the expense a fuller embrace of reality. We can form a prison of stagnation that returns a kind of clarity that only darkness can bring; not a clarity that forges an accurate view of the world, but a false certainty forged by a restricted field of vision.

In the shadows of a narrow mind peering through a simplistic lens we can gain a clear vision of things like right and wrong, not because we see an accurate representation of what is, but because the limited range of gray on black we paint our world with generates an illusion of clarity from a fraction of an otherwise full spectrum world. It is from this position of dark clarity that we can lay hold to false claims of absolute truth. From this vapor platform, we can then pronounce with certainty and clear conscience who deserves to be “in”, and who deserves to be “out” – who is worthy, and who is not. We can burrow ourselves deep in the safety of a mob that uses our selfsame brand of social currency – our repertoire of thought stopping clichés to execute our condemnation of those who dare to explore the outside the boundaries of our circle. All can be known if we hide from almost all there is. We can sacrifice the other for the sake of self when we make our pious judgment from our visionary tomb.

Once in our dark, the antagonist is anyone or anything that dares shine a light beyond the comfort of our ignorance. Uncertainty becomes the enemy. And through our certainty, we fail to grasp that our life is diminished to a tale “told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” – and going nowhere. We wallow in a high test reactionary world of responding to what happens, unable to make things happen. We live in the apathetic shadows of this womb reacting to the currents on which our experience rides, without a voice. Our womb of safety is a tomb in reality; if we never emerge, we will also have only existed, never lived. This is that choice between bloody and bloodier, between bravery and the potential for doom but also for victory, or the the asphyxiating squalor of complacently and cowardice, accepting the way things are – a spectator critiquing the game played upon us.

In the same way that burrows protect creatures of the dark in exchange for the possibility of vision and progress, simplicity is a borrow of abstraction for those of us see clearly because of how little we see – those of us either unable, by virtue of apathy and ignorance, or unwilling by virtue of fear or selfishness – we give up the possibility of progress in exchange for safety and the illusion of certainty. If we are unwilling navigate with less certainty but more possibility, which in only possible in the light of day, we stagnate in place.

For those of us that discover the snare, the battle begins within us between cowardice and the fruit that might come from contending – from disturbing our comforting place that offers us decay. Whether the shadows we are shrouded in develop from a parasite to a predator that devours all volition in a pool of acquiescence, or is fought and defeated for the devouring demon it is, depends on the choices we make after catching a glimpse of what could be as we stand on the cusp of order and chaos, between the shadow and the light.

The Behavioral Theme of Biology is Nourishment and Defense

One of the major themes expressed through biological systems of all types on many scales is activity that lends itself to supporting coherence over time. The strategies are numerous, but pivot on the theme of coherence by way of “renewal” actions over time. In a variable environment with antagonistic agents that break down systems that need continual renewal to remain coherent, coherence sometimes means making sacrificial gestures that may not appear to serve from a short term perspective, but are necessary in when the perspective shifts to the long term. Here is one of those examples: *How a slime mold near death packs bacteria to feed the next generation* “…In the final frenzy of reproduction and death, social amoebas secrete proteins that help preserve a starter kit of food for its offspring.” https://www.sciencenews.org/article/how-slime-mold-near-death-packs-bacteria-feed-next-generation

The Purpose of Life is Written into the Structure of Biology

A skin cell does many vital jobs over the course of it’s life. It is arguably part of the more defensive oriented aspects of our biological economy. Each cell lives and dies, in part, to protect the whole body that gave birth to it and nourished it to maturity. Skin cells share a common legacy with all cells, to serve nourishing and, or defensive roles in relation to the community, whose integrity depends on enough of that shared value for the interdependent community to survive, and if there is a sufficient commitment to that end, to flourish.

The whole process takes around 6 weeks, from being “born”, to being pushed up through the layers in about 4 weeks, to dying and serving even in death for about two weeks as part of the stratum corneum. (Outer layer of skin) Other cells in our body live much longer, but all that are significant (not antagonistic to the body) are also aligned around the purpose of nourishing and defending the whole community which also nourishes and defends them.

My guess is this statement made through this biological economy, happens on many scales. It applies to biological organisms like us in reference to the ecological economy in which we live and on which we depend as a species. Finding and serving this role of constructive service is also the difference between a significant life and a meaningless life for us. It seems to depend on whether or not we found and played a role, no matter how small, in leaving something more constructive in our wake than the sacrifices that had to be made for us to be here at all.

This understanding and constructive expression of significance strikes me as the key to a satisfied life. We appear to be biologically wired to be satisfied by finding and expressing our nourishing and/or defensive role in the context of the community. I am pretty sure this is why we never meet anyone who is both malignantly selfish to the parasitic and predatory exclusion of others, and satisfied at the same time. Again, as far as I can tell, this move toward constructive significance seems to make the difference between an existence that is both to the self and frustrated in terms of purpose, and one that is more reflective of recognizing and fulfilling a role that supports the relationship economy on which we all depend for our present and our future. It is also the way evolution makes selective decisions about what will continue forward in time, and what will be selected out.

I could be missing something(s)

The Integumentary System, Part 1 – Skin Deep

The Map of the Journey We’re On

The structure of the cosmos seems to clearly communicate that some local relationship economies bear fruit and some do not. In other words; we can count the seeds in an apple, but not the apples in a seed if it is cultivated properly. Of course there are many conditionals in that cultivation, but this is the general theme.

Cultivating opportunity depends on any number of contexts, but is rooted in recognizing and applying that which lends nourishment and protection to that which satisfies first basic needs, then nourishes some expanded potential, this latter aspect requires some abundance to service growth. This means actively cultivating the opportunity in the environment. (which happens to be one of our needs that satisfies us once it is met) Diminishing or destroying potential, or being exposed to antagonistic factors that are beyond our control can thwart or destroy that potential.

This need to cultivate motif sets the tone for the relational economy we must negotiate if we are to realize our full potential: Are we participating, or basking in an environment that nourishes and protects the cultivation of our fullest potential? If not, what, if anything, can we do about it? These are the questions we must ask to have any chance to realize our opportunity.

Some of us are infected with pathogenic structures, and or environments, either physical, mental or both, that prevent us from realizing our potential. Sometimes, even though we have the opportunity to bend our activities more directly toward growth, we are nonetheless inclined us to actively participate in activities that do not nourish and defend that fruitful relational engine that leads to our full potential. Self sabotage is common among us. It comes in many forms such as learned helplessness, or lacking the courage to sever parasitic and predatory relationships and forge new mutually beneficial ones that are more nourishing and protective of not only our potential, but that of the interdependent community that emerges from that fruitful relational soil.

To reorient a self defeated life we must recognize that engaging in parasitic or predatory activities such as developing or maintaining social relationships with persons who do not nourish and defend our potential, but feed on or stagnate it, or failing to cultivate the opportunities within our reach must be replaced. We must find and develop mutually beneficial relationships and activities to the degree we are able to cultivate them. That means we look for valuable things to bring to the table, and we also look to invest that contribution where it has an opportunity to return more value than it consumes. This is the recipe for a reality that is more inclined to work in our favor. Engaging in the pursuit of short term pleasures at the expense of long term satisfaction, or staying in social relationship climates that will never nourish our potential and the like is a recipe for a reality that is more likely to work against our favor.

There are any number of complex variables that can go into the barriers to potential, some of which are outside our local control, but the segment that is within our control is our only opportunity, and it is that climate which we must devote our abilities in order to cultivate our most satisfied potential. This is no different from any other organism, and it is one of the foundational statements made by way of how the cosmos is structured as far as I can tell.

I could be missing something(s)

The Art of Communication Has A Long Tradition

Collections of cells working together as a unified body, producing specialized behaviors that lend adaptive advantage on a group scale which include some sacrificial acts that benefit that larger community is not unique to complex multicellular organisms like ourselves. It is more of a relationship theme that that has been threaded into biology long before multicellularity as we know it emerged. It involves perceiving necessities, and communicating these necessities across a biological domain so that effective behavioral responses can take place. This community principle, complete with communication across a wide biological landscape has been present, and conserved throughout our biological history – a unified purpose among different biological entities that arose out of necessity long before multicellular (metazoic) creatures emerged. Here is an example of how this takes place among microbes:

How Microbes Communicate Over Long Distances

“…Percolation is familiar to anyone who brews coffee, and it helped researchers at the University of California San Diego understand how bacteria communicate with one another over long distances. Communities of bacteria, sometimes called biofilms, aren’t just a clump of bacterial cells. It seems they can send signals to one another with ion channels, promoting the survival of the community and protecting it from attacks. New findings on that communication have been reported in Cell Systems.”

 

Link to full article:

https://www.labroots.com/trending/microbiology/12216/microbes-communicate-distance

The Backfire Effect: Plain Truth Sometimes Increases Ignorance

 

The backfire effect is a name for the human social phenomena that exists where when we are given evidence counter to our already established belief, even if that belief is a hope, desire or the like in disguise, we tend to not only reject the conflicting evidence, but believe even more strongly in our original proposition as a result of the encounter.

This makes the many self appointed “rational warriors” in our culture agents of increasing cultural ignorance when tactics of persuasion that include things like ridicule, and loudly speaking what is perceived to be “important science” to what is is perceived as “the unwashed masses” are employed. Rather than agents of increasing rationality, ridicule and brutal honesty are not effective, regardless of whether or not they may be true.

We see this cultural phenomena in the anti vaccine movement, and other beliefs that require a vigorous denial of plain evidence to maintain. My guess is the reasons for this are at least partially rooted in the fact that, generally speaking, we are social-emotional creatures with a small capacity for rational thought. We are not rational creatures who are also social and emotional. When sincere efforts to combat ignorance simply use fact, and do not also accommodate those emotional-social realities, they tend to backfire fortifying ignorance among those of us who perceive we’re under attack.

Our personal identities have their own ideological immune response system and like our biological one, we become more able to fend off “attacks” over time as we’re exposed to them. Additionally, we can develop what amounts to an ideological autoimmune disease in our perception faculties, where we retreat to a belief matrix that is increasingly divorced from pragmatic realities.

The methods by which we communicate, including the social-emotional subtext of those communications, become part of the means by which things are accepted or rejected. This is the reality of the social economy. Genuine persuasion appears to be built on trust, and that trust sometimes must be established over time, especially when in the context of a prior relational strain stemming from perceived disrespect, or a history of prior emotional strain related to the topic on the part of the person(s) being communicated with. The capacity to communicate in the context of ideological differences requires more than an economy of facts. It must also include a baseline of respect at the very least as a starter for any real communication to have a chance to take place.

*France’s fact-based approach to teaching the public about Lyme disease has backfired*

From the article: “Rather than quieting the concerns of Lyme advocates, France’s national plan is further entrenching two extremes.”

https://undark.org/article/france-chronic-lyme-disease/

 

More information on the backfire effect: https://medium.com/homeland-security/the-social-psychology-of-the-backfire-effect-locking-up-the-gears-of-your-mind-a79d4e6e8061

 

There are some who think the backfire effect is not real, or at least exxagerated. Here is an article about this.

http://mashable.com/2017/05/06/oatmeal-backfire-effect-comic/#Py0CmJZf3iqr

How Smell Shapes Our Lives

There is no thing that we do on a macro scale that is not echoed on many other scales, including micro. Like ripples in a pond the relationships that define biological systems and subsystem are characterized by recurring echoes of self similarity and a blend of dissonance. This blend of tradition and flexibility – of dedication to ritual and diversity – is what composes the adaptive range of behaviors we must express in proportion to the opportunities and challenges presented by way of a variable environment – and this is also what characterizes this magnificent symphony of structure we call biology. The capacity to use smell as a means of communicating and understanding that environment as well as negotiating it effectively is no exception to this rule. Here’s a closer look:

The Problem With Deception

Our assumptions form a lens that renders a convincing image in our mind. The lens can then begin to calibrate the relative value of evidence we see so that it reinforces the assumption. Because the lens produces certainty, but not necessarily accuracy, we may end up in a convincing cocoon of certainty even though it is potentially false. The problem with deception is, if we are deceived, by definition we are unaware of it. Many of us appear to confuse the certainty rendered through the lens built on our assumptions with the truth. The real tragedy is when we use that certainty to dismiss, disregard and even dehumanize each other… If we ride on the winds of our false certainty to diminish each other, we also become the the authors of our own poverty.

Here’s a more detailed look at confirmation bias: https://thewisdomoflife.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/confirmation-bias-what-is-it-why-is-it-important-and-what-can-we-do-about-it-2/

The Social Life of Plants

Plants have any number of methods to communicate both internally and externally in order to keep themselves informed and respond to their environment and developmental needs. They use this vast array of capacities to negotiate their way toward maturity and reproduction among other things. As it turns out, plants have a rich social life. They are for instance able to forge relationships with various benefactors in the plant and animal kingdoms and coordinate their effort, including the recruitment of other creatures, to ward off antagonists. They sense, and think without the means of a brain as we understand brains, yet they have the capacity to perceive and respond on remarkable levels which we are only beginning to understand. Here is a documentary on some of the recently discovered attributes of plants.