Tag Archives: Sociology

Biology’s Mission

Biology has the fantastic capacity to self assemble an intricate orchestra of structures that “dance” in concert by the trillions in such a way as to both nourish and protect the whole community of relationships as a coherent whole. It does this amazing feat in the context of an environment that is partially nourishing and partially antagonistic.

The implied mission set forth by nature is that each biological organism must adaptively recognize and dynamically negotiate the acquisition of nourishment, apply that nourishment to a continual rebuilding process through strategically choreographed activities involving the processing and distribution of modified parts, while proportionally avoiding and-or dealing with antagonistic agents in order to remain coherent. This complex negotiation process is continual and shifts dynamically according to the changing demands of the environment.

Collections of interdependent relationships assemble into a self-sustaining coherent whole based on an economy of adaptive value. This economy of values is based on things that contribute to nourishing and or defending continuing coherency. There are many expressions of this adaptive value that come in many forms, from perception faculties like eyes and ears to perceive the environment, to hands and feet to move within it – to the tiny cilia that wisp mucus and dust away from the lungs to protect them, find nourishment. Nested systems aligned around this theme of “perceive and respond” to “nourish and defend” the community can be seen on many scales.

Nested layers of relationship are seated within each and among others, like the many ripples in a pond – intersecting and influencing each other – also like turbulent circular patterns that emerge as coherent expressions in the wake of dynamic fluid flows under pressure. We express a coordinated sophistication that is centered on a singular goal: To nourish and protect the community of relationships in the context of an environment that would dissipate that coherence. This “nourish and protect” goal is meaningfully expressed through the many biological relationship chains and the corresponding behaviors that demonstrate a behavioral pull in this goal-oriented direction.

What we see as order and organization comes from the constellation of relationship behaviors that are born of an inherent value proposition embedded throughout the fabric of nature.

Nature in effect “calls” coherent structures into higher states of order by inherently “valuing” or “selecting” only those relationship behaviors that contribute to coherency over time. The more a behavior, or string of interconnected behaviors contributes to coherency, the more likely it will be incorporated and repeated in a renewal process. This is the essence of what we call natural selection.

Selection itself implies that nature values some things over others. The fact that one relationship structure exists over another one is an expression of this underlying value structure. Of all the things that exist, only those that serve the purpose of nourishing and defending coherency remain. Nature values coherency over decoherence but also demands specific behaviors in service of this coherency over time.

As our capacity for self-awareness awakens, we find ourselves living expressions of this adaptive wonder. When we make the effort to look into the sophisticated processes that conspire to keep us moving forward in time, the level of sophistication can appear astounding. If we transcend the many scales of self-similarity we begin to see themes. Repeating patterns in the process are expressed in many forms. We see the coordinated community of relationship bonds aligned around the utility of continuing existence. We see rhymes and a certain dissonance, a certain pattern infused with some novelty, that is both aligned around the goal. We must maintain the pattern but have enough novelty to deal with the unexpected, and this blend forms the adaptive range with which we negotiate the environment over time. If the environment overwhelms that combination of self-similar and novel adaptive capacities, we lose coherence and go extinct. We watch as biology pays the existential debt required to go forward in time through an environment that sometimes reluctantly provides fruit, or looks for weaknesses to devour the community that it also gave rise to.

The further we peer into the intricacies of this relationship landscape that is biology, and the environment in which it is continually baptized, the more profound and informed we see its capacity to stitch together responses that adaptively negotiate the chaos, continuously calling it to order and making the occasional discovery that adds to the adaptive repertoire. We see this capacity to dynamically call chaos to order expressed through the relational connections between the various organic structures that serve this ongoing concern – to nourish and protect, humming away in an orchestrated song emerging against a cacophony of chaos. Order from chaos. Awareness from sleep.

At the smallest of scales examples like; motor proteins, which are molecular motors inside cells that are able to carry protein cargo along a tubular highway network called microtubules and deliver them to their appropriate destination, or, in the case of a particular variety called myosin, these motor proteins can work in concert with millions of other like motor proteins to do things like contract muscles. Here’s a video detailing in story form, a small glimpse into the fantastic world that is biology. Enjoy!:

Cell Organelles 2 Cytoskeleton

A Day in the Life of a Motor Protein

Image

A Garden of Living Fire

Embedded in our physical structure as well as our nature is the necessity to consume in order to sustain our coherence – we hunger and grow our presence as long as the environment sustains the process. This fire aspect of being is embedded in our myths as well with consuming food and things like hell, suffering and so as important parts of how we map our concept of the world. We also act out this primal pattern in many ways, both constructively and destructively; sometimes consuming each other for the sake of some elevated stature, sometimes sacrificing ourselves for the sake of the larger body we live in and depend on. We are a community of living fire. The question of our future prospects depends on whether we tend the necessities to continue to nourish the fire that sustains and strengthens us or do we consume that necessity to the point of our own consumption?

Bacteria, Like All Organisms, Form Social Networks

Interestingly, bacterial communities’ (called biofilms) and the communication networks that coordinate their actions as a group body (called quorum sensing) have a human social analog. The form and function we know of as human sociality have roots deep within the relationship economy of biology itself. The deeper we dig, the more it appears that what we experience as life is built on a nested architecture of self-similar communication networks.

Bacterial communication and group behavior

“…The past decade has seen the emergence of a new field in basic microbiology… Scientists had long held the view that bacterial cells behaved as self-sufficient individuals, unable to organize themselves into groups or communicate… The idea that bacteria could function as groups and that individuals within the group could respond to the group as a whole seemed almost ludicrous… [It is] now… generally accepted that bacteria produce, and respond as groups… This phenomenon has become known as quorum sensing.”

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC228476/

The Biological Relationship Economy: An Overview

Looking at biological systems as collections of organisms that work together is a far more useful and revealing lens than is assuming organisms are defined by nucleic DNA and the epigenetic relationships that orbit that core. For instance, our microbiome is a collection of organisms that live in and on us. They are a necessary part of what we need to function. Some of these specialize in acting as part of an immune response, destroying or keeping in check pathogens that might disrupt the community of relationships we depend on. With this larger “biological relationship economy” lens in mind, we can see that viral and bacterial organisms can act as part of our metabolism process, bringing nourishment, and as part of an immune response.

If this wider relationship economy lens is unpacked further, we can see that some forms of cancer may be the result of another collection of organisms that is attempting to defend its integrity. To illustrate, certain strains of the flu are caused by a virus that naturally grows in duck’s throats and is part of their microbiome. This virus attacks us by way of those who butcher ducks getting infected. This may be a type of cross-species immune response where the bacteria is attempting to act as a defender of the biological ecosystem system that it is part of.

Ecosystems can be thought of as biological bodies that extend beyond species and include groups of species and the environment they interact with. There are plenty of these cross-species integrated systems that are collectively aligned around the principle of both establishing mutual coherent integrity and the defense of that integrity by various means.
This “nourish and or defend coherence in the context of the environment” behavioral economy is the axiom on which every coherent organism within and entire ecosystems are based. The behavioral tax that must be paid toward defense is part of the process of coherent biological systems and happens on many levels. When humans are at the receiving end of defensive acts we experience it as a disease.

The array of behaviors in cancer, when taken as a whole, looks like something is deliberately trying to destroy our biological systems in a number of ways with a certain “understanding” or behavioral inclinations aimed at how to make that destruction happen. This principle is no different than when our natural killer cells, which are part of our native immune system, seek out harmful cells in our body and destroy them.

In other words; cancer may be due to our biological system being perceived as a pathogen in relation to another biological system – a collection of organisms that forms a collective body of nourishment and defense – that has sent out destructive agents the same way we produce various defensive immune response agents. Perhaps these defense vectors are in the form of transposons or viral packets, or bacteria suited with certain mechanisms, etc. which turn our native systems against themselves in order to protect the integrity of the system in which those defensive vectors (organisms, viruses, etc.) natively participate.

There are many kinds of cancer. Some may be a result of reversion theory, where our cells are thought to revert to unicellular forms when under prolonged attack but some other forms take on a far more sinister strategic approach to disrupting the systems we depend on for coherence that it makes me wonder if something is recognizing us as a pathogen and taking active defensive action to mitigate that destructive agency.

Of course, this is all speculation. I do know that biological systems are aligned around two foundational strategies, one, to establish coherence, and two, to defend that integrity against antagonists. If we were not blinded by looking at individual organisms and viral elements as separate biological entities, rather than parts of an integrated ecological network of interconnected organisms and environments that are collectively parts of the same body, we would be able to see the sources of disease. In other words, we may be the cause of our own disease because we fail to recognize how to play mutualistically in the broader social biological community.

Here’s an example of interspecies transmission of destructive agents that may be constructive in another biological relationship system context:

https://phys.org/news/2017-01-secret-weapon-insect-transmitted-viruses-exposed.html

History Repeats Itself

After the arrival of the printing press on the human cultural scene, ideas were much less able to be contained and controlled by what was, in effect, a priest class of idea manufacturers. Before this technology, ideas were printed as social currency from the central authority that consisted of the government and church. This set of ideas was consumed as the map of reality by the population at large. With the printing press ideas became far more distributed and less contained by the mandates and hegemony of a robust social institutional base. The institutions had a stranglehold on the narrative map with which the culture navigated and therefore largely defined the culture were now under threat.

A whole new economy of influencers entered the scene, unleashed by the technology. Turmoil followed as the former centers of influence saw their ecological niche threatened and fought to retain their relevancy. Enlightenment ideas such as deism, liberalism, toleration, and scientific progress eroded the supremacy of these former undisputed champions of culture. These new narratives were harshly crushed with physical and ideological warfare because they threatened the now weakened institutions.


After the printing press, it took some time to get the reins back from the effects that “ideas in the wild” had. A time of chaos ensued until a new equilibrium was forged – until these new ideas developed into cultural institutions themselves – until they became well entrenched in the culture with formal institutions of their own – complete with a priest class of “experts” and the attending flocks of faithful followers along with those who get caught in the currents of influence produced by whatever ideological coin of the realm happens to be popular at the time – the “zeitgeist du jour” The organs of influence that emerged in this new climate fitfully found a place of equilibrium among the traditional forces once the boundaries of influence were sufficiently defined. Books, newspapers and later, radio and television were the new centers of power that coexisted with government and church. They now controlled the narrative and defined the culture.

This newfound expansion of the narrative territory didn’t mean that society transformed into a place of justice or any other high virtue. In fact; exploitation, or what could be called social farming (where a small group that holds control of the narrative entices larger groups to act in unison under the banner of a set of ideas that serves the interests of that small group) reemerged after some time. The former concentrated seats of power were disrupted for a time but not the principles on which the human social economy operates. Grifters and those who ride on waves of authority rather than the much harder work of authentic contribution to the human condition dressed up in lofty ideas like freedom and justice while they reestablished the reins of influence. Once again the influence was leveraged to parasitic and predatory effect on the many to serve the few. In other words, the new boss was the same as the old boss.

This same period of chaos and fight for control of the narrative is happening again with the advent of the internet. Like the printing press, this technology unlocked the ability for one person to reach thousands and millions with a keyboard and a camera. This has once again disrupted the institutional layer of society – the few that control the narrative for the many. The same painful and bloody birthing process that happened in the wake of the printing press is once again unfolding. I suspect that a new equilibrium will form over time. I’m not sure we have the maturity as a species just yet to redefine the principles on which our new social contracts will operate. Will we generate the emergent fruits that result from a commitment to the realization of each other’s full potential, or will we reestablish the poverty inducing climate produced by the image so well defined in George Orwell’s book Animal farm, where the creatures used the ideas of freedom and equality to reestablish exactly what they claimed to be fighting against?


Freedom and justice cannot be expected to flow from untended soil, it has to be continuously and carefully cultivated by what we do for each other, not by what we can get from each other. I hope we can develop the insight and discipline to choose the former because the latter is a recipe to author our continued poverty.

Our Social Past and Future

Were All In This Together

 

We are biological- social creatures far more so than we are logical. Like fish that school, we humans (generally speaking) are wired to nest ourselves in the context of a group, either as a well protected internal organ, or as the skin which relates to the outside world, but acts to nourish and-or defend the coherency of the group. Our biological wiring is so dedicated to this grouping task that our perception faculties are heavily biased toward what is useful over what is accurate. Most of us will sacrifice accuracy on the alter of belonging to a group every day of the week without even thinking about or recognizing it for what it is.

If we unpack the behavioral implications of our inborn social traits at a group level, we see the ritual displays we make to demonstrate our affinity to a group need somewhere to go and somewhere to grow. We seek some identification of “group self” as well as some contrasting social ground to define our group self from group other. As a result, many of us search for the boundary between “self” and “other”, probing the social landscape and attempt to “eat” the “other” as food with our superior ideas.

Never mind the ideas we hold are tokens of belonging far more than fact – they are far more holey than they are holy, we simply shrink or expand their value as necessary to fit the narrative that our group is the only true and right one. We even sometimes call the process of ritual selfing “owning” the other side. This illustrates what the actual act is – a symbolic embodiment of our biological nature; that must eat things to live. It is a perfectly normal outcropping of our social nature deeply rooted in the necessities of being in the context of the environment coupled with the current zeitgeist of ideas.

Marketers hijack these innate tendencies toward belonging in an attempt to build emotional connections between us and logos so the goop inside the packaging has more perceived value. And it works.

Thought stopping clichés are one of the benchmarks of ideas being used as social currency, not as agents of expanding our knowledge base. We diminish or increase the value of whatever ideas we encounter so that it is bent into whatever serves the group. This is why bureaucracies or social movements, once established, tend more to their preservation as they age than they do to working out whatever was in their charter. Whether or not the ideas we hold correspond to factual reality or sensible actions devoted to our common wealth or not is secondary to their value as a bonding agent – defending the coherency of the group. We are in effect groupies. If someone comes along behaving with an affinity to accuracy that differs with what serves group affinity, they are not thanked. They are either passively marginalized, or if they become influential, actively marginalized or neutralized by whatever means necessary.

There is no doubt that overcoming the limitations and mindsets of our small tribal roots is of benefit. In fact, it is arguably a necessary component of navigating the future we are unavoidably moving into. This doesn’t mean it is easy. We swim in the same pond and what we do influences our common experience. This fact carries with it an ever greater weight today than compared to the requirements of living within the threshold of uncultivated nature, waiting for her to deliver a capricious bounty. Somewhere in the depths of history we crossed a threshold to a point where we need each other in ways that cross the former boundaries of smallish tribes. Finding our footing on these untrodden grounds may not be easy, but it’s worth it.
I could be missing something(s)

cr-fzu8ucaa-hli

 

Fish Schooling

Does life require a purpose?

Nebula Art

Does life require a purpose? I suppose how we define purpose and life is important if we are to attempt an answer that is satisfactorily supported with evidence. Here’s my sketchy take on the subject.

All coherent objects in nature must have some capacity to nourish and or defend their coherence in the context of the environmental womb in which it is situated, otherwise it would not exist over time. In our case, we are nested layers of sophisticated behavioral architectures that support this continuing coherence. The behaviors involve things of adaptive value such as breathing, drinking, eating, obtaining shelter, as well forming social bonds, mating and the like because of the adaptive (purposeful) advantage of these behaviors. This macro behavior, along with a host of micro internal relationships carry out a singular purposeful theme of nourishing and or defending coherence. This is expressed on many levels with many variations built around this unified theme of nourishing and-or defending coherence in the context of the environment. This is what defines a coherent entity, whether an idea, what is communicated by the totality of behaviors we express through our life.

The inherent purpose communicated through our nature is why we are not satisfied unless we do something significant – something of nourishing and-or protective value with respect to the common body of relationships we live in, are part of, and depend on for life. Finding that thing we can do to contribute to the nourishing and or protective value to the community of relationships that defines our common experience of life is a story written right into the fabric of life. We never meet persons who are both malignantly selfish and satisfied at the same time. This inherent purpose written into the complex dynamic coherent structures such as ourselves sets the tone for whether we will be satisfied or frustrated, whether we will do what is significant, or move on the currents in meaningless directions.

Here is a look at some “nourish and defend” activity on a molecular scale.

Where is the Meaning of Life Located?

What Is The Meaning of Life

As far as I can tell, things like rights, beauty, love, money, and all our notions of gods, good, evil and so on, are the various subjects (stories) we derive from the common object of (nature). We make maps as symbolic descriptions of nature as a territory, then use the maps as a means to perceive the meaning of the relationships between objects. In other words; nature is objects in relationship with each other, but these relationship processes also convey meaning – the same way the relationship between letters and words or sounds convey meaning.

Nature is the base line grammatical engine on which all meaning (language) is built. It is also a language in and of itself. The same way many verbal languages can emerge from a grammatical foundation like a limited set of syllabic sounds, we form our various maps of nature based on the context of the heritage of our experience communicated through our various local environments over time. Objects in relationship with each other over time is the essence of story as far as I can tell. We can not have one (subject) without the other (object). The need for a relationship between two or more entities in order for the birth of meaning to take place is perhaps the archetype of what we frame as male-female – yin-yang mother-child and so on. This meaningful aspect of nature we map out in our myths and also describe as process through our scientific lens is built on this universal grammar.

As meaning generators ourselves, we reflect the nature of nature, despite our occasional delusion that we are independent of the whole. This should perhaps come as no surprise even though it appears to for many of us. Specific order conveys coherent meanings, and to the degree we are ordered, we also convey coherent meaning. Nature conveys story through objects in relationship with each other over time and we interpret this objective dynamic process as subject.

The null hypothesis is a statistical test that suggests there’s no significant difference between specified populations or sets of things; that any observed differences are due to sampling or experimental error. It says we see things as an artifact of how we categorize them. Any truth that can be derived from any “object” in nature depends on that object’s relationship to other objects, even if that other object is the whole of nature. We examine facets – pieces- subsets of nature – that we classify by category, and out of that perception of object in relationship to other object we find meaning. The fact that we must divide nature in order for any facets of meaningful difference to emerge points to the fact that a relationship between two or more objects is necessary for meaning to exist at all. Without the relationship between two or more objects there is no “word” no meaning.

The fact that our organs operate as a community of objects that act to nourish and defend each other’s coherency is more than a process, it is a meaningful story of how coherent structures sustain themselves; whether we decode that message plainly by way of our abstract maps or not does not dismiss the fact it conveys meaning. The fact that we are not fulfilled as mature beings unless we find a way to contribute meaningfully in the context of the community we live in and depend on for life is rooted in the fact that we are unable to act against our nature as mature adults – with excessive selfish intent, taking from our community without giving back something that generates greater value in return – and also be satisfied. The fact that we become depressed when we’re not participating in something larger than ourselves is a statement by nature through our native drives that we hunger for meaning – for a larger coherency. We are simply not wired to be satisfied this without meaningful connections to a greater whole. These aspects of a satisfied life and unsatisfied life is clearly mapped in our biology, but also through the mythic story of Cain and Abel; where one was satisfied by giving his best, and the other was not due to doing the minimal. Are these people literally true? Maybe, maybe not, but they are metaphorically sound with the message conveyed through objective nature about who we are and what constitutes a pathway to a satisfied life. To deny this seems to me as incoherent as to deny gravity.

Our cultural myths (stories) throughout time and place are symbolic maps of the world and the cosmos. We use them to craft an image of our place in the context of this larger environmental womb of nature – as a way to reflect our understanding of this “almighty” womb of nature we’re in – that forms us of the dust of the Earth – that gave birth to all things – that nourishes and feeds us and will yield its strength if we cultivate fruitful outcomes, which are rendered through specific nourishing and protective actions along with a certain level of sacrifice and so on over time. This nature, to which we must sacrifice to in order to cultivate a more abundant life speaks of itself in and through the way objects relate to each other. These cultural myths we have formed over the years have embedded within them things like our objective need for a relationship with each other and our world because of how we have been defined (created) by this thing – this greater being; nature.

The fact that we need to tend this garden of living fire with enough intentional cultivation to sustain our collective body, our species, or there will be consequences is conveyed through the process. Our origins, and a projection of our destiny based on how we negotiate in the context of this relationship economy is also conveyed through the process. These subjective words we stitch together as symbolic maps of the territory are not mere descriptions of process alone, they also convey meaningful concepts. We make symbolic tokens that can stand for the territory we are in – this economy of “being”. These maps are how we negotiate our relationship with self other and the world whether we couch it in terms of governments and constitutions and laws, or in the form of mythic stories.

Along with being defined by nature, our maps can also define how we experience “being”. The same way nature creates by way of object within certain boundaries, we can create by way of subject. While I would agree the map is not the territory, and that the claims of literal truth made by certain religions could be argued as objectively untrue or unprovable, we simply cannot know from our perspective, which is why these things are the domain of faith, at the same time, money is not money unless we agree it is money. We shape our experience in objectively true ways through concepts – through meaning. Meanings themselves can take on the form of objects in relation to one another and create a nested architecture of meaning. The same way each language has it’s own word for stone, yet there is only one objective stone to which all these various concepts point, each mythos subject attempts to encapsulate the properties of nature in abstract terms. Each has a a unique map that conceptualized the same source – nature, which is both object and subject.

To suggest that anything not tied to a description of process, which is the domain of science, is valueless and incoherent misses the point as much as claiming subjective truths are objectively true. We can get lost in our maps by mistaking them for objects, but we can also get lost in process by mistaking that for subject, when it is the inseparable relationship between the two that defines what we experience as “being”. We can be the authors of our own poverty, or cultivators of our grandest success depending on how we relate to each other – how we participate in subject making process.

We generate meaning by the way we relate to each other. We also have the opportunity to generate more abundant meaning by how coherently we relate – how much we nourish and protect each other and the common body of life we depend on to sustain us as a single meaningful coherent whole in service of a greater whole. This nested architecture of meaning conveyed through the process of nature is a meaningful guide to a meaningful life if we have the ears to hear the message. Whether we understand it or not, the meaning is clearly conveyed: that objects in relationship with each other over time is the essence of how we experience every story, including our own.

I could be missing something(s)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Null_hypothesis

The Origin of Personality and Culture

The bouba/kiki effect is a non-arbitrary mapping system between speech sounds and visual shapes that we are biologically wired to do. If asked to name the objects below using the words bouba & kiki, the word kiki will most often be used to name the sharper object, and the word bouba used to name the softer object. It is because the sound kiki is sharper than the word bouba. Our subjective language is shaped by our objective environment.

If the implication of this connection between subject and object is unpacked across larger scales such as individual personalities and cultures, we can see how certain languages and customs would be sharper in tone as a result of the communication telegraphed through the social and objective environment by harsher climates. Ice ages and seasonal environments, or natural events such as volcanoes would communicate a certain perspective that would be different than a tropical island environment with steady access to food all year round and not as much need for shelter and so on. This objective communication by the environment would incline the subjective maps and behaviors developed by the people in that environmental womb to reflect that localized aspect of nature. We can see this type of bouba/kiki effect reflected linguistically (our subjective maps) as well as behaviorally (objective expressions) in our personalities and in our cultures and so on.

In other words; our identity to a large degree is based on patterns (echoes) of being repeatedly informed by, and responding to environmental cues. These cues define our form much like the rising sun would warm a rock, defining the properties of its form for a time. We are a collection of adaptive behaviors that were shaped by environmental factors over time which favored behaviors that were required to remain coherent in that context. (to survive) Harsher climates would have demanded harsher “kiki like” actions and words, and these traits would carry forward (perhaps past their shelf life) as acquired adaptations even if they became maladaptive in the context of a changing environment. This would have a self perpetuating effect, where harsh behaviors would craft a feedback loop of harsh behaviors, much like corn produces corn seeds, which produces corn and so on.

Understanding this concept may offer us the opportunity to strategically decide what to “plant” because although we cannot control every variable, our opportunity to participate in what will contribute to what we experience as our future depends in part on what behavioral seeds we cultivate.

 

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)