The problem- why FSATFOTI is important
The world is in a terrible mess. No matter what day of the week or what month of the year you read this, there will be wars going on and other wars waiting to break out, people starving while other people lounge in luxury, changes in our climate that threat the end of human civilization as we know it – and an amazing inability/unwillingness to do anything to reduce or mitigate those changes. And on a more personal, immediate note, we all have challenges in our day to day lives and the lives of those we care about that–while they might not be “a mess”–are challenging. Nothing new in all that. The world is a mess, We all know that, and we all know there is nothing we can do about it. There is certainly nothing you or i could about. Now, if we could just get about three hundred thousand of our friends to do something, to care enough to do something, then maybe all would not be lost.
And the whole point of FSATFOTI is that there is something we can do about. One of the challenges of writing (and I suspect reading) this is that part of the problem FSATFOTI is meant to address is the language we use, the words we speak and write and read. So in the first sentence of this paragraph it says “something we can do about it” but normal thing would be “something you can do about it.” Some you can do implies that addressing those issues is your responsibility, something the reader should do or think or say, and the reader alone. Something we can do implies you are off the hook, that “we” are going to take care of things. But as Pogo said, “we are the people our parents warned us about.” And as Obama said, “we are the people we have been waiting for.” The basic assumption I am making is that the belief/idea/preconception that you are just a little you separate and distinct from everybody and everything else in the world is a mistake. So rather than saying “you” or “we” or “me” there should be a different word, a word that reflects the view of Fractal Society. Another way to say this is that maybe are are missing something, maybe we (and by “we” I really mean all of us, each and every one) took a wrong turn at some point and have been heading in the wrong direction for a long, long time. So what is the mistake we made? Where did we turn wrong? This is what I wanted the Elevator Speech to be about, and I fear it is beyond me to sum it up in thirty seconds or less. But here is my best shot.
The solution: Fractal Society View
(I believe that) All of us are connected to each other in more ways, and more intimately than we can imagine. Look at your hand, and imagine that you are your right ring finger, and you think you are just that finger and totally cut off from not just the other finger on your hand, but the fingers on your other hand, and your toes, to say nothing about being cut off from my toes. That is how we are most of the time. We don’t recognize how connected we are. (Of course, there are times we feel really connected, when you really feel for something – be they a friend, a lover, or the victim of some disaster.) Now you can probably see how your ring finger is connected to the other fingers on your hand, and so maybe it makes sense to think of “you” as the whole hand. And maybe you can see how your right hand is connected to your left hand (and how those two hands together can do a lot more than just one hand by itself. But it might be more of a stretch to see how the right ring finger you is connected to your toes, let alone my toes. What i am suggesting, and i know it sounds crazy, is that your fingers are connected to my toes, even if you aren’t rubbing my feet. I think that we are connected to each other in ways we usually ignore, in ways we might not even be able to comprehend. And if/when we recognize those connections we become much more powerful, much more compassionate, and much wiser. if we were to recognize those connections we would actually do something about the messes we are creating; in the bigger world and in our personal world. “Fractal Society” is the phrase I use to describe that interconnected reality.
Obstacle to the solution: Fetish of the Individual
What keeps us from recognizing that interconnectedness is that we over-emphasize our individuality, we really think “we are islands” and that what happens to my ring finger has nothing to do with the rest of my hand, let alone my toes, and doubly let alone your toes. That over-focus and constant attention to what is going on with the ring finger is what I call the “fetish of the individual.” It isn’t that the individual doesn’t exist, it isn’t that the ring finger doesn’t exist. It is that our excessive focus on, attention to, and infatuation with the ring finger keeps us from seeing the interconnections. Our fetishizing the individual keeps us from seeing the intertwingleness of fractal society.
Your thoughts would be appreciated.