This is another supplemental essay. A full story will be posted later in the week.
Change the Metaphor.
How do you change the controlling metaphor? That right there is the first and foremost challenge? Maybe it’s impossible. The metaphor is in the government, the metaphor is in the economic system, the metaphor is in the media and the metaphor is in the education system. The metaphor is so ingrained in our life that we hardly even know it’s there. What I mean by metaphor is the made up story that serves as the foundation for our day to day lives. The metaphor isn’t true but if you stop believing it a large part of what you do will be a complete waste of time.
It’s easy enough to change the metaphor for me. I simply don’t believe it. I have traveled a good part of the world and lived among people who believe different metaphors. Thus, it is easy for me to step back and look at my society’s metaphor critically. And when I do so, the metaphor seems kind or ridiculous. Most people who live here, however, believe the metaphor to be true without ever really thinking about it. Indeed, the mass media here is so powerful, that if I just watch it for a little while, I will start to believe the metaphor again. But no, not really, a quick trip to a nearby forest and I am back to reality.
So what’s this metaphor or story I’m talking about. I’m talking about evolution. Ut oh. You rolled your eyes. You think I’m a science denying looney bird. But I am not talking about Charles Darwin’s scientific theory of evolution. If you want to have an academic discussion about the principles and processes of evolutionary theory that’s just fine and dandy. But most people haven’t read Darwin’s book and very few know the details. I’m talking about the mythology or story of evolution that most people commonly understand and that story is nonsense.
The story is survival of the fittest with a linear progression towards the better (more evolved). Plants and animals fight it out in the cold cruel world. Winners win losers lose the cream rises to the top and evolution progresses towards a better and better world. Human beings are the result of millions of years of evolution. We have come out ahead of the competition to become the dominant species on the planet. As time continues forward we become smarter and stronger and faster. We just keep getting better and better as we develop and develop and improve. Life is a competition, the humans are winning and my team (America) is going to be world champions.
In a certain fundamental but not obvious way, this story is very similar to the Monotheistic religious world view. According to the Bible, God gave humans “dominion” over the plants and animals. According to evolution mythology, humans earned their dominance over plants and animals through their achievements in the evolutionary competition. The two opposing theories reach the same conclusion. Humans are the bosses of the planet earth and they damn well should be.
That right there is the metaphor that needs to change.
The myth of survival of the fittest is really idiotic. It only makes sense if you immerse yourself in mass media and pay no attention to the real observable world. Seriously, if you really think it’s true, go sit your ass in a forest somewhere for a little while. Or even sit down in your local cafe and chat with your friends and neighbors. In reality, every human and every living thing has indeed a competitive instinct but they also have a cooperative instinct to counter balance that instinct. While the planet is indeed evolving towards complexity as the force of energy is applied to the planet earth it is also evolving in the opposite direction towards simplicity as the force of entropy is applied to the planet earth. For every taker there is a giver. Evolution is dynamic it is not linear. Plants and animals in the forest compete but also cooperate. The selfless or community instinct is just as strong as the selfish or individual instinct. Human beings have not emerged victorious in the evolutionary competition to dominate the planet. They are but one species among many in the complex dynamic web of life that makes up the living breathing planet.
Anyway, as I see it, the fundamental problem our society is now facing is that our leaders have designed a linear growth economic system based on the myth of survival of the fittest. Unfortunately, the inevitable end result of such a linear system is the complete destruction of the planet earth. It’s easy enough in theory to design an economic system based on dynamic principles of sustainability rather than linear principles of continuous growth. But such a system can never be established politically as long as the population continues to believe the simple minded nonsensical story of survival of the fittest.
Which brings us back to the original question; how do you change the controlling metaphor? Is the mass media full spectrum dominance cultural brain-wash machine
just too powerful to overcome?
Have a very happy day!