Fluid social change can only materialise when two circumstances are met.
The human value system, which consists of our comprehension and beliefs, must be updated and changed through education and thoughtful introspection.
The environment surrounding that value system must change to support the new world view. The interaction between a person’s value system and their environment is what influences human behaviour.
For example, in our culture, “ethics” is really is a matter of degree, for our social system promotes and rewards competition and self-interest. This perspective doesn’t just “lead” to aberrant behaviour… it creates and promotes it directly. Corruption is the norm in our society and most people do not see this, for since the society supports this behaviour, it is considered right and normal… or accepts it as a matter of degree.
Given this understanding, there is a fallacy that has emerged where certain groups are deemed “corrupt” and everyone else is “good”. This is the age old “us and them” practically and “evil and good spiritually” world view which has no basis empirically, for it is, again, all a matter of degree.
For example, there is a large movement of people who constantly talk about “The New World Order” and this notion that there is an elite group of people who have been trying to take over the world for a long time and have manipulated society in various ways to further their goals.
This, of course, is true to a certain extent.
BUT, the failure of awareness is that this “group” is not a group at all. It is a tendency it is a trait of history propagating it self.
If you took out all the people at the top who are engaged in global hegemonic rule, it would simply be a matter of time before another group stepped in to seek the same ambition. Therefore, it isn’t the individual people or groups that are the problem. It is the conditions upon which those people have been accustomed and indoctrinated by. Of course, many argue against this view with the escapist notion that it is “human nature” that causes this competition and need for dominance. This is unsupported by the facts. In reality, we are in this existence nearly a clean slate when we are born, it is our environment that shapes who we are and how we behave.
Therefore, in order for TRUE change to occur, we must spend less time battling the products of this sick social structure and more time trying to change the root causes. As difficult and daunting as it may be to think this way, it is the only way our world will change for the better.
Psychology is often defined as “The science that deals with mental processes and behaviours”.
In the modern day, there are basically two prevailing schools of thought. ‘Geneticists’ and ‘Behaviourists’… the old notion of “nature vs nurture.”
The Geneticists are inclined to think that human behaviour is derived from heredity and instinct. Often on the news, reports detail how some study claims to find the ‘genetic predisposition’ ‘to being republican’ or ‘smoking cigarettes’. This supports the world view that we are ‘hardwired’ in some way and that even subtle nuances of behaviour, such as an inclination for addiction, is genetic or “instinctual” in some way.
The Behaviourists, on the other hand, see the human being as a product of conditioning, as based on the environmental exposure of that person. Therefore, the actions of a person have a source that is derived from experience or a triggered train of thought, brought on by a learned understanding. The mechanism of action/belief therefore is sourced in learning, not heredity or instinct.
Which is more relevant? Obviously, both views are relevant in certain ways. Our interest in surviving and reproducing is imprinted/genetic in some way, as it is directly associated with fundamental survival. However, the means by which survival is obtained is entirely based on the social conditioning of that person. If a person grows up in a scarce, poverty stricken environment, with limited access to employment, they will have more of a propensity to engage in illegal activity to survive… more so, then say a middle class person who has basic needs met.
On the other side of the spectrum, if a person with great wealth has grown up in an elitist family and is thus conditioned into thinking that his or her wealth/class serves as a status symbol, they might often exploit those who work for them or perform illegal activities to conform to the identity and social arrogance they think is real.
The bottom line is that it is environmental conditioning that really affects 99% of our actions, and all diligent behaviour studies have proven this time and time again.
People become alcoholics not because they have a genetic predisposition, but because of the influence of their parents or friends. If you abuse a child, very often they grow up to abuse other children. When the mass media promotes a certain idea in society, such as “terrorism”, the public is conditioned into believing this is true and a real threat, regardless of reality. The fact is, we are emergent, vulnerable organisms and are always undergoing influence, conditioning and change to a certain degree.
That ‘degree’ is largely influenced by the social/ideological identifications which many have been conditioned to think are immutable. This particular state of awareness is where paralysis comes in, for there is nothing in nature to support the conclusion that anything we think about today will not be outdated in the future.
Fritz Pearls once said that “The human species is the only species that has the ability to interfere with their own growth”. This is an important perspective, for our belief systems, which we think we must keep to support our identities, our individuality which stands in the way of new, changing understandings, personal growth, and spiritual enlightenment.
The most dominant institutions which perpetuate this paralysis seem to be Theistic Religion and The Monetary System.
Theistic religion promotes a fixed World view, with a “faith” based understanding that rejects logic and new information. It holds on the the predetermined and often interpreted view by self-righteous men of history.
The Monetary System (in all countries) is based on Competition for Labour and thus Labour for Money. Very simply, the “competitive edge” can only be sustained through self-perpetuation, and self-perpetuation/self interest naturally leads to a static institution which prefers not to change, for it threatens the survival of that business, government or the like. This is unsustainable.
Sociology is often defined as “The study of society; human social interaction”.
This field considers social structures, both Cognitive and Material. An example of a Cognitive Social Structure is the established institution of religion and how its operation affects the collective awareness. For instance, Prolife Christians share a disposition that human “life” is a separate element of nature and that killing an unborn foetus is wrong. Concurrently, the competition based monetary system has proponents putting forth ideas such as how competition is the most productive social state that humans can engage in.
Material Social Structures, on the other hand, are very obvious and they exist in the form of corporations and governments, each having a strong influence on society. Of course, all Material Social Structures bleed over into the cognitive realm, for they always have an ideology behind them.
A common sociological issue has to do with “Human Nature” and its effect in a collective sense. For instance, most people have been taught that human beings are naturally competitive with each other, along with the assumption that social stratification or hierarchy is also a “natural human tendency”.
This is a fallacy.
In human society you will see social hierarchy and violent competition through war, greed, ego, righteousness of the past, what is overlooked, are the Environmental Conditions present in each case.
Humans have been living a scarcity mentality since the dawn of existence. As time has gone by, we have become more and more “civilized” due to our ability to create. Humans are able to create tools and set in motion processes that free the human being from a particular chore or problem, reducing Scarcity.
We see that on a fundamental level that if scarcity could be eradicated, then human behaviour would undergo a dramatic change, moving away from competition, dominance and stratification.
Therefore, true change will come from removing the conditions that cause the aberrant behaviour patterns which pollute our societies. Prison, Police and Laws are mere patchwork and, in fact, tend to make things worse over time.
Ultimately, it is going to take a redesign of our culture to change human behaviour for the better.
When we consider the relevance of our social structures and ideologies in society, very often we view governments, politicians and corporations as the guiding organizational and catalytic institutions responsible for the quality of our lives. This is, of course, true… but only to a certain extent. As time has moved forward, human beings have become more and more aware of nature, its processes, and thus have been able to derive inference about how to imitate nature in all its creative glory.
The result has been Technology, which is what separates us humans from the other species as far as functionality. We have the ability to create in very vast ways.
At the beginning of the Industrial Age, a great majority of people worked in factories. Today, automation comprises 90% of nearly all factories…
This pattern is very revealing. The implication is that machine automation is constantly challenging the role of general human labour and denotes the freeing of humanity from jobs which humans do not care to engage in, so they will have time to pursue what they choose to…
In a true society, there would be no such thing as the separation of “work and “leisure”, consider the curiosity and interest of a child. He or she doesn’t even know what money is…Do they need to be motivated by money to go out and explore/create? No. They have a personal interest and they pursue it without reward. In fact, the greatest contributors to our society, such as Einstein, Newton or Galileo, pursued what they did without any regard to money. They did it because they wanted to. The act of doing and contributing was their reward.
The point here is that money is not a true incentive for anything and to think as such is to assume that humans are inherently lazy and corrupt. Laziness and corruption are products of the conditioning our social system creates.
We find that our quality of life, as far as functionality, has been increased greatly by the benefits of the technological tools we create. From a lawn mower to a pace maker, technology saves lives and decreases the amount of time we need to spend on mundane, difficult or dangerous activities. In fact, if one steps back far enough, it becomes clear that Technological development is the most important institution we have and the pursuit of socially helpful technology (not weapons) should be the highest priority of the culture.
If we had the option to rebuild a society from scratch, how would we do it to make it the most efficient, sustainable and humane? It is time we stop thinking about monetary concerns and limitations, and begin to think about the possibilities we have here on Earth in the broadest sense.
When we think of sustainability, often we think of durability, longevity and environmental respect. In general, a sustainable practice is a practice that takes the health of the future into consideration. However, this idea isn’t just reserved for the physical, material world- it also applies to thought, belief, human conduct and society as a whole.
An unsustainable practice is one that has an unbalanced negative effect, which, through time, will adversely affect a person, society and/or the environment. Any practice that causes an irreversible resource depletion or long term environmental pollution is an unsustainable practice.
If a particular company outputs large amounts of waste by-products during production, polluting the environment, this would be considered an unsustainable practice as well, regardless of what they are producing.
Similarly, if materials or knowledge used in the production of a particular kind of product are not of the highest known quality, very often the integrity of that product is compromised inherently, leading to the eventual creation of more waste when that product fails or becomes obsolete. Given our current system of profit, most of everything that is produced is done so with a built in weakness, due to the need to compete for market share. In other words, if two companies are each competing to create a certain item, both will need to be strategic in the materials and designs they use, very often compromising quality for the sake of affordability. The result is a product which breaks down much faster than a product which was given the greatest care and highest quality component materials.
This doesn’t happen in our system for two reasons: 1) If a company was to use the best known design and the best known materials, they would likely have a much higher production cost and would likely lose a competitive edge. 2) If products were made to last for extended periods of time, people would not need to repeatedly replace, update and fix their items as much, and a vast amount of revenue and jobs would be lost by industry at large, slowing the economy.
This is, of course, unsustainable by definition, for the inherent inefficiency of the economic system eventually creates unnecessary multiplicities, waste and pollution.
And this leads us to unsustainable ideologies.
An unsustainable ideology is one that inherently leads a person or group to unsustainable practices. For instance, the reason a production plant might use poor materials to create unsustainable products, while also outputting a disproportionate amount of waste, is really the result of a larger force, known as the Monetary or Profit System. In a Profit System, there is no reward for sustainability, for the system is built upon competition and regeneration. In such a circumstance, sustainability is always second to profit, for the survival of a company is based on profit, and profit is partly based on reducing costs and expanding income. Therefore, the unsustainable practices that exist in all industries are the result of an underlying flaw in the ideological economic structure itself.
In theory, most would agree that having an abundance of resources, along with products that are made of the most endurable materials for maximum sustainability and efficiency, is a good thing. However, these notions are not rewarded in our current world monetary system. What is rewarded is Scarcity. Scarcity and planned obsolescence are rewarded in the short term, for it creates a ‘turnover’ of profit, while also making more jobs. Sadly, this ‘short term reward’ is at the cost of ‘long term destruction’.
The Free Enterprise System, along with all other subgroups, such as communism, socialism and fascism, is an unsustainable ideology, for it has built into it a propensity for environmental and social abuse. To put it more clearly, a world that is in competition with itself for labour, resources, and survival is an unsustainable system inherently, for it lacks an external conscience.
So then, what is a sustainable ideology?
Sadly, our approach to social operation is largely without logic or methodology, but rather it is submerged in tradition, superstition and outmoded methods of conduct. A scientific approach to society, using logic and reason to assess and react to social issues would have a natural gravitation towards sustainability, for nothing can be isolated or detached in such an approach. In other words, we need to stop looking at the world through the blinders of the systems and ideologies that have been created in the past, and start looking at the world in the most broad, unbiased way we can.
A quick glance at the modes of operation used in the world today reflect a gross negligence of reason, logic and scientific application. Our economic structures are based on mediums of exchange and values which have little relationship to true resources and reality. Our labour system is setup so that people must be “employed” in order to gain money to survive, while the actual contribution that these occupations have to society are highly suspect, showing that “jobs” often exist simply to keep people doing “something” in order to live and support the economic structure.
This is a waste of human life…
There are many, many facets to the understanding that our current social institutions are unsustainable. To summarize the issue, our life on Earth must have a foundational premise by which our operations relate. From a scientific perspective, we see that resources and human ingenuity are the most valuable issues at hand. Human intelligence and awareness, coupled with the thoughtful management and utilization of earth resources are really the only two core issues. Everything else is built upon this. Therefore, we need to begin an approach which maximizes education, technology and resource management.
Spirituality has a many meanings.
The interconnection of the whole of life is undeniable in the most basic sense, and it is this perpetual ‘relationship’ of total interconnectivity that is not fully realised by society overall. Thus, our modes of conduct and perception are largely out of line with connecting humanity with each other with nature and with the cosmos itself… and hence destructive.
It is the mission of this movement to draw attention to all aspects of spirituality so that we may together realise the prophesy and take humanity into the enlightened age.
Edited: Thanks to Peter Joseph