ANTICIPATORY vs CATASTROPHIC CHANGE
by Erich Fromm (from the first chapter of his book, May Man Prevail, 1961)
Societies have lives of their own; they are based on the existence of certain productive forces, geographical and climatic conditions, techniques of production, ideas and values, and a certain type of human character that develops under these conditions. They are organized in such a way that they tend to continue existing in the particular form to which they have adapted themselves. Usually, men in each society believe that the mode in which they exist is natural and inevitable. They hardly see any other possibilities and, in fact, they tend to believe that a basic change in their own mode of existence would lead to chaos and destruction. They are seriously convinced that their way is right, sanctioned by the gods or by the laws of human nature, and that the only alternative to the continuation of the particular form in which they exist is destruction. This belief is not simply the result of indoctrination; it is rooted in the affective part of man, in his character structure, which is molded by all social and cultural arrangements so that man wants to do what he has to do, so that his energy is channeled in such a way as to serve the particular function he has to fulfill as a useful member of a given society. It is for this very reason, namely that the patterns of thought are rooted in patterns of feeling, that patterns of thought are so very persistent and resistant to change. Continue reading
The meaning of Self-Responsibility is difficult to generalize…mainly because the idea is shaped more by one’s culture (including individual religious beliefs) than it is by one’s self. It is also difficult to disassociate its meaning from a specific time-frame. For example, what might appear to be very self-responsible behavior in the short term can turn out to be just the opposite in the long term (i.e., being “a penny wise, and pound foolish”). And it is that aspect of self-responsible behavior that is writ large in the presentation above. Despite the growing urgency regarding contemporary life-style choices, sustainable food and energy production, etc., it is as nothing when compared to the enormity of the genetic ‘evolution vs. devolution’ decisions that are very rapidly heading our way…
I’m 63 And I’m Tired!
by Robert A. Hall
I’m 63. And except for one semester in college when jobs were scarce, and a six-month period when I was between jobs (but job-hunting every day), I’ve worked hard since I was 18. Despite some health challenges, I still put in 50-hour weeks, and haven’t called in sick in seven or eight years. I make a good salary, but I didn’t inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, there’s no retirement in sight, and I’m tired. Very tired.
I’m tired of being told that I have to “spread the wealth” to people who don’t have my work ethic. I’m tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to earn it.
I’m tired of being told that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,” when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family “honor”; of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren’t “believers”; of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for “adultery”; of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur’an and Shari’a law tells them to.
I’m tired of being told that out of “tolerance for other cultures” we must let Saudi Arabia use our oil money to fund mosques and mandrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in America and Canada, while no American nor Canadian group is allowed to fund a church, synagogue or religious school in Saudi Arabia to teach love and tolerance.
I’m tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate.
I’m tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses while they tried to fight it off?
I’m tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of both parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. I’m tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.
I’m really tired of people who don’t take responsibility for their lives and actions. I’m tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination or big-whatever for their problems.
Yes, I’m damn tired. But I’m also glad to be 63. Because, mostly, I’m not going to have to see the world these people are making. I’m just sorry for my granddaughter.
This is just the opening shot in a series that will explore the central issue fueling Hall’s complaint: “I’m really tired of people who don’t take responsibility for themselves…”
The question is, what does that really mean? And, more importantly, what can be done to change it?
If nothing changes, does it happen in time?
The concept of change effectively defines what is meant by identity. More specifically, for something to have a distinct identity it must exhibit resistance to change.
For example, pick up and try biting a rock. What you immediately discover is that it likes being what it is, and isn’t terribly interested in changing either its position or size. Yet, over time, it will inevitably do both…when it comes into direct contact with another, equally resistant identity. Of course if it is floating in space, unless it strikes another rock it will likely retain its unique ‘state of being’ for a very long time. But if it resides at the bottom of a stream, or the edge of a river, it will inevitably be reduced over time to bits of sand, and then be further reduced to smaller particles (e.g., molecules) which will eventually dissolve and become part of the surrounding water. So…first rock, then water.*
And thus it is ‘change’ (in terms of ‘identity’) that defines time. So…slow change, slow time. Fast change, fast time. No change, no time. (If you wonder about the difference between fast and slow time, in terms of change…imagine being an electron in the middle of a nuclear explosion. Then imagine that same electron residing deep in an iceberg. ;-)
*Which then eventually evaporates and separates into air and sand…and may again become a rock, given enough time. (But that’s another story.)
Quiz: If you take a picture of a rock, develop and frame it, then hang it on your wall…will the photo of that rock never change? Or is it now an ‘identity’ (independent of the rock it depicts) who’s time has just begun…changing, as it slowly fades away in the light of day?