How do we view the world?
The answer to that question determines what we include and exclude in our reality, what we think is possible, what we can imagine.
It all started a long time ago at the edge of chaos where energy pressured self-organizing systems to form atoms into galaxies and amoebas into human civilizations. What we call intelligence began as information in the shape of photons of light or chemical trail to which systems reacted favorably for their survival and this information processing evolved through human intelligence to the connected collective wisdom of Internet. Intelligence, i.e some form of information processing, and the circulation of information, communication, became essential as systems became more complex and for human beings evolved into culture, language, and science. Knowledge is a relation and from collective learning human beings get a shared idea of how the world works from their shared experiences. In the words of Donella Meadows it is “
The shared idea in the minds of society, the great big unstated assumptions, constitute that society’s paradigm, or deepest set of beliefs about how the world works.”
These ideas vary with different cultures and have varied with time. Money has been given magical powers by the WEIRD-people just as Spondylus was magical to the Incas. Egyptians built pyramids for their belief in after life. WEIRD-people built skyscrapers believing in property rights. The ideas of human beings have had tremendous impact in a negative way (war for example) but depending who you are also very positive consequences such as vaccines, improving our shelter against weather and better ways of getting sufficient energy to get through the day. But as Emerson eloquently put, ideas get physical impacts.
“Every nation and every man instantly surround themselves with a material apparatus which exactly corresponds to their moral state, or their state of thought. Observe how every truth and every error, each a thought of some man’s mind, clothes itself with societies, houses, cities, language, ceremonies, newspapers. Observe the ideas of the present day,—orthodoxy, skepticism, missions, popular education, temperance, anti-masonry, anti-slavery; see how each of these abstractions has embodied itself in an imposing apparatus in the community; and how timber, brick, lime and stone have flown into convenient shape, obedient to the master-idea reigning in the minds of many persons.”
No matter how hard we try our understanding of the world, our universe, will be a limited understanding of our world. We have to as Meadows say
“stay flexible, to realize that no paradigm is “true,” that every one, including the one that sweetly shapes your own worldview, is a tremendously limited understanding of an immense and amazing universe that is far beyond human comprehension.”
We thought earth was flat (some still do), we put freons in refrigerators, we chopped down a lot of trees, we burned a lot of oil in cars, we created imaginary nation boundaries, we have continued believe in and give away our work and freedom to kings. Some consequences of our limited understanding have been and can be dire.
Our relative success as a species has been depended on that we have shared information and updated our understandings of how the world works. What is most pressing is updating our world view with the concept of limits. This simple notion that the planet earth, with the exception of millions and billions BTUs more energy from the light traveled the 8 minutes from the sun, is endowed with limited resources affects everything from how our daily lives are lived to what kind of economic system the earth can support. We have to start talking about these limits even if the limits of our society reminds of our own existential limit and defamiliarize with our own different cultures to find out what peculiarities stops us from processing information of what works when living within limits.
We human beings now must learn to create a super-duper fantastic place within limits. Like the scientists in 1970s behind the A BLUEPRINT FOR SURVIVAL said back then:
"If we plan remedial action with our eyes on political rather than ecological reality, then very reasonably, very practicably, and very surely, we will muddle our way to extinction."
Extinction doesn’t sound like the best option so let us, since multiple perspectives on our world are needed, reimagine what is possible. Let us find a new paradigm, a new story, and set a new GOAL for humanity, that better allows all human beings to live well and have fun within the ecological limits of the planet. We take advice from Meadows and will try to screw up mindsets. We will try to ask the mindupsetting questions! And we will play!