The New Skill: Ecological Thinking

We humans have been running on left brained, linear thinking for a long time. It has accomplished a lot but its limitations are evident also.

What Is Linear Thinking?

Linear thinking is thinking that is based on the idea of sequential events and therefore a line. Sequential events lead to a story, reasoning and narratives.

Linear thinking is very cause and effect. It’s objective is to create a kind of solidity. Because it connects everything in a line, it is very surface in what it treats as valid. Linear thinking pervades our culture:

  • are you in line
  • are you out of line
  • are you above the live
  • are you on the line
  • line up

Linear thinking is a way of measuring ourselves and each other. Linear thinking is at home with our inner critics.

Why Linear Thinking Fails

Linear thinking omits a lot of information from what it considers relevant. Natural cycles are ignored, denigrated and denied in the linear world. The linear world believes that through our efforts we can control the ups and down of life. Many years and untold effort have been dedicated to the goal of permanent positivity. Natural cycles do not recognize our yearning for a life with no pain or downside.

Linear thinking creates structures and systems that require the use of force to maintain. The structures themselves become what people depend on. It is a lot like putting a roller coaster ride in the middle of the ocean and expecting it to be safe.

Natural cycles operate in a natural process of give and take which creates a circular process of renewal. Linear thinking does not consider renewal as necessary. The need for renewal “takes away” from the goals of the linear system.

Cyclical Thinking

Where linear thinking is more structural, cyclical thinking is process oriented and aligned with natural cycles of life. Cyclical thinking takes into account physical limits, the need for physical and other forms of renewal, stages of the life cycle and the interdependency of living creatures and systems.

Cyclical thinking promotes a way of life aligned with nature. It supports a thoughtful adaptation of human to the reality of life processes. Cyclical thinking places humans in the web of life, not outside it and not over it.

What Is Ecological Thinking?

Ecological thinking is post linear thinking  It is flexible thinking which rejects fixed cultural structures that are not tied to the natural cycles of life.

Ecological thinking is the manifestation of wholeness in ourselves and the natural world, a result of embracing the interconnectedness of all life forms.

It’s a way of interacting with all of life that respects the limits and gifts of each life form. It respects the need for nourishment and renewal of all life. It embraces the complexity of the natural world which includes us as well as the natural intelligence and benevolence of the universe.

Ecological thinking sees life as a large web of beings which support each other and an endless process of living and renewal. It recognizes death as part of the process. Ecological thinking does not elevate one species over the others. Each species contributes to the whole so to protect one over another disturbs the web of life.

Ecological thinking recognizes the balancing mechanism that nature is and respects and supports it. By continually aligning with the need for rebalancing, humans can live in harmony with nature.

Ecological Thinking And HSPs

Ecological thinking is a natural way for highly sensitive people to live and think. It allows our pain to be part of the natural rebalancing process in our lives and lets our sensitivity serve the interdependent whole web of nature and life. It makes our sensitivity valuable to ourselves and others.

Ecological thinking and living restores HSPs to their rightful, respected place in human society.

Additional Reading:

Linear Thinking vs. Cyclical Thinking permacultureandsanity.com

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The End Of Economic Man

Casino Chips with houses on top © by Images_of_Money


Who is economic man?

Economic man is a human creation, an identity we invented to serve a specific purpose.

Economic Man And The Age Of Enlightenment

Many people think that with the Enlightenment we invented freedom. That is a myth. What we really invented was what I call “economic man” or the identity suited to the Industrial Age.

According to Wikipedia, The Age Of Enlightenment

was a cultural movement of intellectuals in the 17th and 18th centuries, which began first in Europe and later in the American colonies. Its purpose was to reform society using reason, challenge ideas grounded in tradition and faith, and advance knowledge through the scientific method. It promoted scientific thought, skepticism and intellectual interchange and opposed superstition,[1] intolerance and some abuses of power by the church and the state.

Religions ruled the world before the Age of Enlightenment until the emergence of science.  Science became the antidote to superstition and religious abuses of power from those religious systems and the basis and justification for economic and political changes.

These changes were not just political changes. Our ways of learning and knowing were undergoing a revolution because we had new ways of discovering and evaluating information through scientific process. The scientific process created a way for us to formalize trial and error which led to new methods of making goods which in turn made improvements in our standard of living. The contribution to human life of this age was substantial.

Why We Changed

At the time of the Industrial Revolution, human needs were largely unmet, living standards miserable and life spans short. So we developed manufacturing capabilities to meet out needs. Since the needs were high and life spans short, we use short-term strategies to create support for this new system so that it could meet the needs of so many more people.

What we created was

  • scientific methods to help us develop tools and materials
  • capitalism
  • consumption
  • money as an indicator of status
  • more participatory political systems

Enter Economic Man.

Who Is Economic Man?

Economic man is the human being empowered to

  • negotiate and manipulate
  • bend the living systems of the world
  • to use nature to support human life
  • be opportunistic
  • work for himself and his own desires.

Economic man is about the trade.

Economic man is about performance.

Economic man is entrepreneurial.

Economic man is not humanitarian although many living standards have improved because of economic man’s emergence.

The High Cost Of Opportunism

Where life before the Enlightenment was regulated by religious systems, the Enlightenment developed human social structures to support opportunism. It was a value that could foster innovation, create many products and solve many material problems.

Opportunism has a strong energy and people feel empowered when they are opportunistic. There is a catch, however. Opportunism is not creativity. It is not necessarily a life affirming value. It is often adversarial, and too frequently rewards those who get the better of others, fostering inequity and unhappiness.

Opportunistic societies place little value on friendship so they only satisfy some of our needs, nd not our deepest needs. Opportunism is relentless. When it become a lifestyle it is a bottomless pit, an addiction. When it becomes a society’s dominant value, it creates inner conflict because it pits external values against the deeper more humanitarian needs of the individual. This inner conflict can be destructive and take a lot of energy.

Although winning can be fun, sustained winning is an energy drain and consumer of resources. At some point everyone becomes exhausted. This is where we find ourselves today – drained by too much opportunism and too many claims on our fragile resources. The costs now outweigh the benefits.

You could say that the Enlightenment has been too successful. We now live longer, have more and there are more of us.

So perhaps we can give thanks that we are being given the opportunity to wake up and find more important treasures worthy of pursuing in life: friendship, nature, our creative and spiritual sides. For HSPs the change couldn’t be more welcome.

Reclaiming The Serious

Do you tend to be more serious than other people?

Does it ever make you feel like you are out on a limb all by yourself?

I know that I am much more serious than most other people around me and that I tend to fell alone with it.

Are HSPs More Serious Than Other People?

In some ways it seems to me that HSPs are more serious than non-HSPs.

Our sensitivity causes us to notice nuances and disconnection. We notice when pain is created in us and the people around us.

We notice the little failures of attention that can add up to big time failures and alienation.

Our nervous systems cause us to be aware whether we want to be or not.

Our awareness can make us uncomfortable and others as well. Awareness is not always welcome.

HSP Awareness And The Culture Of Positivity

HSP awareness and our need to honor our authentic perception can make social relationships difficult. It is particularly difficult in a cultural structure of positivity – the thinking style of progress and forward movement.

Positivity only accepts the “yes” answer. It only wants to hear how something can be done. It doesn’t tolerate slowness and obstacles. Positivity is narrowly focused on a specific result.

HSPs who notice flaws in an objective or how it is being pursued are unwelcome in “positive” environments.

There is nothing wrong with thinking positively. The problem with positivity is that it is often divorced from reality. As a cultural model, positivity totally disregards the “collateral damage” caused by its philosophy: human health issues, environmental degradation, social issues and costs.

HSPs do not ignore the consequences of positivity. We cannot. We can feel it; there is no escape.

The Origins Of The Positivity Idea

Positivism is a philosophy that applies math and science to all spheres of life. It has been an important way of thinking used to help us meet our material needs. Essentially it is a left-brained view of the world and life which is why it often feels “off” to highly sensitive people.

Positivism has had far reaching consequences because it defines science and mathematics as the only valid surces of information. Therefore, any information that comes from another source lacks standing in a culture of positivism.

All the “soft” sources of knowledge like intuition, deep processing, energy awareness, holistic thinking have no valid basis in our current positivity culture.

The Fatal Flaw Of Positivism

The fatal flaw of positivism is its reliance on science because science is reductionist.

Scientific reductionism means that everything can be  known by reducing something to its component parts. Science assumes that it can know everything by dissecting it and studying it.

Unfortunately, this belief is wrong.

Science can certainly provide us with a lot of information. However, it misses something critically important. The world and people are not just static objects.

People, the world and life are dynamic and organic. They are ever changing and evolving.

Science cannot understand the dynamic nature of life.

What science and positivism have done is trivialize life and people.

How The Serious Came To Be Abdicated

Positivism defines what matters in very narrow terms. It is a materialistic philosophy.

However even material is not static. Everything grows and declines, is born and dies, changes and transforms.

Science does not understand the energetic nature of all life.

HSPs are very attuned to the energetic universe. Energy is information, it is reality, it is our source and our work.

Science has devalued the energetic systems of life:

  • if you grieve a serious loss more than two weeks, you now have a medicatable condition
  • if you are hurt by someone hostile actions or words, you have a problem, but it does not recognize energetic harm as a valid concern
  • sleep is something you do when you are dead. It does not really understand cycles of activity and rest.
  • nature is no longer our home, it is a source of raw materials for creating products. Nature exists to be conquered. (How’s that working?)

Reclaiming The Serious

Something interesting is happening in the world right now.

All of the serious issues that have been denied for so long are finding their voice again:

  • nature and the environment
  • spirituality
  • marginalized people
  • natural healing
  • local economies
  • animal rights
  • human rights

There is increasing joy as people start to reclaim what’s important over what is economic and expedient.

We have been sacrificing our well being for convenience. Convenience is not a serious life concern. It is nice, but hardly important as a value.

Important and serious values are showing their face.

People are taking up the serious in their lives and life is starting to have meaning and value again.

How refreshing!

 

Walls Do Not Make Us Safe

Wall Street © by Manu_H

The walls are up in our society.

All sorts of walls: brick, stone, identity, geographical, ideological, and economic.

There there are physical walls of race, sex and physical abilities.

Roles and social affiliations are another form of wall.

So are rules.

We can’t live with them and we cannot live without them.

Why We Have Walls

Walls are not intrinsically a problem. However, after thousands of years of creating walls to protect ourselves we are now drowning in them.

Rules, roles, customs, conventions, expressed expectations, unexpressed expectations. There are a lot of ways to create walls. We humans have been very creative about it.

And of course we all have our personal walls including our habits and personalities.

Many of our walls came into being when we needed them when our species was younger and more defenseless. They became a part of our reality out of necessity. Now with 7 billion people on the planet they are being questioned in a more serious way than every before.

Walls are meant to protect us when we need protecting. They are not meant to just keep others out. There is a distinction. Walls are a closed and fixed structure; boundaries are more open and flexible.

The Limitations Of Walls

Sometime walls are contrived and sometimes they are not. Sometimes they help and sometimes they do not.

There is a reason why, however, at this particular point in time we are in need of a rethink about walls more so than others:

  1. 7 billion people all with their own walls is unwieldy.
  2. we have always needed to cooperate. However, the complexity of our current human systems and the demands on them require a more skillful interdependency.
  3. our problems are bigger. There are too many of us for the resources on the planet. Our walls are making it harder to solve our big problems and we cannot shut ourselves off from the needs of others.
Walls are what we have when boundaries fail, when we cannot find a way to negotiate our differing needs and claims on mutually shared resources. They are what we create when we do not trust.

What to do?

Changing the closed structures of the human race is a big task. The walls cannot be simply brought down. Instead we need to ask ourselves a new question.

What does a human society look like with cultural institutions built on the basis of and for the purpose of creating trust? Trust is something we create just like anything else.

Perhaps at one time survival was more important than trust. Well, we survived!

Now we have to repair the damage and figure out how to create a different kind of human society built around trust and sustainability.

Structures create results. Now we need new results so we need new structures.

It is time for an overhaul. Let’s bring the walls down by creating a world where people see that they do not need them.

The Wound Of Materialism

Oiled Bird – Black Sea Oil Spill 11/12/07 © by marinephotobank

Materialism destroys our environment as this picture shows.

It also destroys so much more.

It destroys our humanity.

Every society defines its purposes and priorities.  There was a time when the material side of life was extremely lacking and improving the human standard of living was a necessary and important goal.

So the Western world, starting in Europe,  created an economic system to rectify an existing problem. So far all is well.

Unfortunately. at some point, the goals of society went beyond rectifying existing needs. Societies became about wealth accumulation.  It may have been one of the biggest mistakes we ever made.

All social systems have a stewardship responsibility in society. Stewardship involves considering the past, present and future. Stewardship honors sustainability. Stewardship promotes the health of all living creatures and their institutions.

When wealth accumulation became the agenda, stewardship went out the window. It pitted one person against another because it was no longer OK to seek to have your real needs met, if you were not part of a wealth accumulation system, you essentially did not exist. Those who could advance the wealth agenda had their needs met over those who were less able to do so.

So if it mattered to you that we do not harm the environment unnecessarily then you were not only unimportant but also considered dangerous to the wealth accumulation agenda.  If you think getting a good night’s sleep matters then you are not available to work ridiculous hours to further the wealth accumulation agenda. If you think that compassion matters then you may be interfering with profits.

When does the system that demands our support begin to support the people who support it?  I have heard very intelligent people express a fear of being irrelevant.

This is not living.  In many cases it is not even surviving.  This is, in fact, slavery.  And we all know that slavery is very damaging to the essence of a human being or any living creature for that matter.

We are not here just to be used.  We are here to live and to be cherished, and our existing social and economic systems are failing us miserably.

The human race has been demoted to serve a wealth agenda.

It is definitely time for change,

And it cannot come soon enough.

Are We Kidding Ourselves About Abundance?

Abundance © by bluebirdsandteapots

There has to be a better answer.

At least that is what I keep telling myself.

For the longest time I have asked myself why there is so much misery in the world and what can be done to change it.

We have had many answers in our human history, but often they fall into one of three categories:

  1. do without and learn to like it
  2. indulge yourself
  3. consume moderately which is a little of everything, no extremes of self denial or self indulgence.

I am not pointing in a spiritual direction with this post. I am raising practical considerations regarding material existence and human quality of life.

Why do we need to continually fool ourselves about material existence and abundance? I know I am speaking a heresy when I question current ideas about abundance, however:

  • there are only so many hours in the day; that is a reality.  Pretending that we do not need sleep does not change the number of hours in the day.
  • you can only really focus on one thing at a time.  Multitasking does not change that.  It just makes for sloppier work.
  • increased quantity of anything does not necessarily improve quality of life. A larger quantity of poor quality food just makes you sick.
  • taking more than you need now reduces your ability to take care of yourself in the future because all material existence takes time to replace.

Unfortunately, all of our “conventional” wisdom comes from times when there was an abundance of natural material for us to use and consume. In the past, times of scarcity came from natural causes ex. drought, or an inability to take advantage of natural resources, which capitalism has fixed.

Now we have to deal with our insatiable appetites at a time when there are over 7 billion of us, many of whom have had few material needs met.

Abundance does exist, but it is not fixed, permanent or immutable. We can destroy it. We can also nurture it.  Perhaps that needs to become our new skill.

So how do we nurture abundance in a way that is sustainable and meets the needs of everyone?

A Holiday Wish

christmas stars © by mararie

It has been a strange holiday season this year.  Perhaps because of the mercury retrograde or perhaps because of all the change in the air. For me, it has been a season of thinking, this time about appreciation.  No, not the why don’t they appreciate me whine.  Something different.

I was thinking about our current messed-up state here in the United States, and I was remembering that back in the 50′s and 60′s there was an idea that we were entering a new age of leisure, that we had such sophisticated machines and they would do everything for us. We had it made. Whatever our demands were they would be satisfied.

That thinking has stayed with us for at least a half century.  It inspired an IBM ad not too long ago about an on-demand world. Just snap your fingers and it will be done.  In just snapping our fingers, we have also closed our eyes to what it takes to deliver on our demands, and what it costs us and our environment to do so.  Our natural empathetic natures became unnecessary, unwanted and even in the way.

The cost has been much higher than we imagine. Our on-demand world has cost us a grounded relationship with process: natural process, manufacturing process, all process.  It means that we have lost relationship, the art of working things through, and the ability to know how to direct ourselves in response to the dynamics of living. Our desires and demands have made all of that irrelevant?

Our disengagement from our world behind the shield of entertainment doesn’t protect us from reality.  Pushing a button is not wisdom in action. Our disengagement means that we do not know what to appreciate or why.  We have delegated our lives and without the experience of living in process how do we begin to take them back?

There is one group of people who does not have the luxury of acquiescing to the current system.  Our humble and creative HSP’s are more engaged with process than any other group.  We take in everything and have to deal with it and are often alone in doing so.

Highly sensitive people have a capacity for appreciation that is exceptional.  All the processing of sensory information, thoughts, feelings and experiences gives us a library of information for working with a dynamic world. HSP’s are the people who can lead us back to a groundedness with our world.

It is my wish for HSP’s this holiday that they take a moment to appreciate themselves, as the stars in the tree that hold the light we need to bring us to a new communal understanding.  You are truly special and worthy of very high regard. Please celebrate your gifts to the world in this holiday season.

The Emerging Value Of Health

 

Girl carrying baby in front of the Zanga health centre © by hdptcar

Health is emerging as the transcendent value that can solve the problems of our troubled world. The value of health is different from health itself. The value of health is a guiding light that illuminates our choices and helps make them easier.

Health can be subtle.  A healthy society does maintenance.  It maintains everything, relationships, institutions, infrastructure, people, animals, plants, rivers. In short everything.  I was in a dentist office not too long go and the dentist was complaining that many young people do not want to brush their teeth because that takes their time from other things.  Unfortunately, the value of health and maintenance is a non starter for many people in our highly competitive and consuming world.

The value of health gives us some exceptional benefits:

1. It creates resilience.  Resilience is more than being able to withstand some adversity.  Resilience is also about laying and maintaining societal foundations that are sustaining and sustainable.

2. Health is not reckless.  It is the antithesis of recklessness. The value of health recognizes the interdependency of all life and when we harm the web of life we harm ourselves.  So maintaining health in all things helps everyone.

3. Health is not adversarial.  It sees the value in all things and allows everything to contribute in its own way and minimizes the misuse of any aspect of our world.

4. Health creates a foundation that enables each person to evolve into their best self.  It minimizes interpersonal, societal and environmental damage that creates ill will and damage to the hopes of the people.

5. The value of health is holistic and sees limits as productive, not as an enemy,  It respects yesterday and the learning and progress it has brought, acknowledges the damage, and proceeds to build a world where what we have accomplished is put to use to create a sustainable world.  It does not see any one idea or thing as “the be and end all”, not religion, not science, not anything. The  value of health is open to the answers wherever they are found.

6. Health asks different questions because it sets different priorities.  It’s not about blame and fault.  It’s not really about failure.  It’s about what we are creating, and why and how to do it better.

7. Health is not ideological.  It transcends parties, religions, and cultural demographics.  It does not have an axe to grind.

The value of health allows us to create a constructive place where we can build on the best of the past in an inclusive way . We can benefit from all of the resources that have been built up, the skills we have created, and create a health oriented, long sighted world. In short, a world we want to live in.

One of the best aspects about the value of health is that there is nothing or no one to conquer.  It puts us all on the same page not in terms of identity or culture but in terms of how we operate in the world and in terms of what we are creating in the world. Because of that, it offers us the chance for some serious peace.