Archives for posts with tag: survival

Let me put this another way.

Nobody can survive alone.
Not for a considerable amount of time, anyway.

“It takes nothing to join the crowd”.
To join, maybe… but if you choose to remain, you must ‘follow the rules’.

So yes, it takes everything to stand alone… Your very life!
And the ‘membership price’ is your ‘absolute’ freedom…

Hard to make up your mind, eh?
Then let me raise up a few points.

I started this argument by mentioning that nobody can live alone. Not for long and not very comfortably. No matter how hard you may prepare yourself.
Don’t kid yourself. All those hermits and preppers you hear about – on ‘social media’!, are able to do that because of modern technology. Which technology has been developed by somebody else…
On the other hand, most individuals are able to survive, alone or in small groups, while jumping from ‘one boat to another’. Think emigration, for instance. Or ‘acculturation’.

But no crowd will ever survive its members leaving in droves!

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More than ten years ago I was preparing my thesis.
To get a ‘title’ – BA in sociology, in my case, each Romanian student must submit a paper to a commission. To help them, students are allowed to chose a Professor.
My choice had been Petre Anghel.
We had many interesting ‘exchanges’. Before, during and after preparing my thesis.
One of the most interesting ones had been about education.

Education is, maybe, the most ‘conservative’ things known to man.
The transfer of knowledge from one generation to the next one is the single thing which allows a society to survive.
And to thrive, if each successive generation diligently improves
what has been bestowed upon it!

Petre Anghel

Fast forward to right now.

The US is the current ‘top dog’.

According to my Teacher, for a nation to reach this ‘stage’ it needs a smooth flow of knowledge from one generation to the next one. And a strenuous effort to improve that knowledge made by each successive generation.

Nowadays, both current generations – the one trying to pass over its knowledge and the one at the receiving end of the process, are dissatisfied with the current ‘education system’.
Many belonging to the ‘mature’ generation are obsessing about ‘who runs the system and towards which end’ while the ‘learning generation’ is buckling under the costs incurred during the process.

Do I need to remind you that it’s the conservatives the world over who are whining about this?

OK, I understand the whiners living in failed states. Afghanistan, Somalia…
But those enjoying the perks of living in the ‘civilized’ world?
What are they complaining about?
Weren’t they in charge while the current education system had been put in place?
Aren’t they the parents, and educators, of the current student generation?

What’s going on here?!?
Why are the American Conservatives, living in the most advanced country of the world – no doubt here!, the most vocal critics of their own education system?

What, and why, went wrong?

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Three of the terms involved are relatively clear.
We all know – think we know, what ‘fail’, ‘win’ and ‘cheat’ mean.
‘Honor’… on the other hand… is way more relative. Mostly to the company we keep.

For some, being honest is synonym to behaving foolishly…
After being educated in such a manner, not making use of every opportunity which presents itself to you – no matter how ‘shady’ it might be, is seen as suicidal. Not only that you loose the potential windfall, you also loose face!
You loose whatever public respect you ever had. You actually loose your honor!

Now, that I’ve already dug this far, the whole phrase needs context.
We know what ‘fail’ means but without circumstances….
What are we talking about here? Backgammon or a survival situation?
An innocuous game or a struggle to stay alive?

Most people will praise those who let themselves be killed for a noble cause.
On the other hand, it would be rather ‘bland’ to allow someone to kill you without attempting to ‘fool’ the guy into giving up, right?

On a different scale, history – and, maybe, this was what Sophocles meant in the first place, offers ample proof that communities which value ‘true’ honor last far longer – and their members enjoy far more comfortable lives, than those where cheating is a way of life.

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Change can either be inflicted upon you or effected by you.

‘Change’ as in ‘something you need to overcome if you are to survive’.

We, humans, are the first to be in this situation. The rest – from the humble sub-atomic particles to our cousins, the great apes, experience change only as being inflicted upon them.

Gravity pulls together a huge cloud of gas and dust until it becomes hot enough for the fusion reaction to transform it into a star.
A supernova becomes so hot that gravity can no longer keep it together. It explodes and releases the heavier elements needed for planet building.
As it cools down, the second generation nebula is again pulled together by gravity.
A smaller star appears, this time ‘entouraged’ by planets.
On one of those planets, conditions are ripe for life to appear.
Wind and frost erode the mountains. Water carries the debris into ravines. Micro-organisms transform the debris into soil.
Vegetation – starting with the blue-green ‘algae’, which are actually cyanobacteria, have transformed the atmosphere into what it is today.
Animals have evolved into their present state by eating plants – at first, and then each-other.
Fungi have added their contribution towards what we witness/enjoy today by digesting whatever they ‘perceive’ as being ‘food’.

All of the above mentioned ‘change’ has been ‘inflicted’ upon those who bore it, by the ‘changing factors’, according to ‘natural laws’ implicit to the nature of the ‘changing factors’.
Gravity pulls because…
The blowing wind and the freezing frost who had broken down mountains did change the face of the Earth because it was in their nature to do what they did.
Plants, animals and fungi, together, have transformed the planet into what it is today as a consequence of each of the species doing what it was natural for it to do in order to survive. None of the species, nor any of the individual members of those species, had ever done anything ‘on purpose’!

Until we, the ‘naked apes’, have become ‘conscious human beings’.

We continue to have a lot of change inflicted upon us, of course.
Inflicted by factors outside our species – the current Covid pandemic, for instance, or by ‘agents’ amongst us. The first example which comes to my mind being the plane high-jacked by Lukashenko – the ‘last European dictator’, because he wanted to arrest a dissident journalist who happened to be inside.

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My point being that we’re the first who effect change. Who do it ‘on purpose’.
Which very ‘purpose’ makes us responsible for the outcomes of our actions.
For no other reason than the fact that it will be us who will suffer the consequences of our own ‘edeavours’!

It’s our consciousness which instills purpose into our actions.
Then our very same consciousness should better become responsible towards the consequences engendered by our purposeful actions.
For no other reason but the simple fact that it’s our own survival at stake here!

I don’t know anything.
I don’t know everything hence, logically, I cannot pretend to know anything.

Seems odd, since I obviously know something… to type, for instance!

Indeed, only the key word here is ‘logically’.
From a logical point of view, you either know something or you just don’t.

Not very reasonable… This line of thinking leads up, fast, into a dead end!

As soon as I realize I know ‘nothing’, I must stop!
I can no longer ‘do’ anything.
Because I cannot control – in an absolute manner, each and every consequence of any of my actions.
Further more, there is no justification for me to continue thinking.
Again, because I will never be able to achieve ‘knowledge’.

Yet so many things are being done around me…
From the sun rising in the morning to the ant helping its mates to dig a nest.
From the electron ‘flying’ around the nucleus of a Hydrogen atom to a man developing a computer application.
How can all these actions be performed when nobody, not even the ‘performers’ themselves, is able to determine the ultimate consequence of what’s going on?
How can so many thoughts be ‘spun’, and books published, when the ‘thinkers’ themselves – well… some of them, actually, are fully aware of their intellectual limits?

What drives this frenzy?

And, if I may allow myself a thought, why ‘logic’?
How can such a ‘paralyzing habit’ survive?

Existence takes place ‘inside’ while things happen in-between.

Survival is a matter of preserving, ‘as is’, what already exists while evolution is about change and might involve ‘dismissal’.

Everything may survive while only ‘living’ things are capable of evolving on their own.

At some point, evolving organisms became complex enough to ‘feel’.
Not only complicated enough to react in an orderly – a.k.a. pre-programmed, manner but also to generate emotional reactions – which can be remembered, when certain things happen in their vicinity. Things which are important for the survival of the feeling organisms. As a consequence of the ‘feeling’ process, data regarding the happened occurrences are stored by the feeling organisms as information. Which information may help the organism in its struggle to survive. Using that information, that organism might become a ‘better version’ of itself.

At a further point in the evolution of ‘things’, organisms have added another layer of complexity.
They have become complex enough to ‘think’. As in complex enough to attempt to maximize the effects of the information they have at their disposal.

That was when ‘facts’ had been identified as being ‘things’ which had had consequences, when data had been identified as being information and when the thinkers had discovered that thinking was driven by sentiment.

Which sentiment is nothing but an evolution of the ‘survival instinct’.
Present in any living organism.
Which survival instinct is nothing but the living equivalent of something the physicists have identified as inertia.

Go figure….

Messages which are knowingly incomplete, false or both at the same time.

Why?

Because they have no alternative, want to achieve something or need to survive.

As soon as a person achieves a certain level of self-awareness – read consciousness, they realize that no ‘communication event’ will ever be complete. That nobody will ever be able to communicate everything they know, about the most insignificant subject, to anybody else.

Then what? Stop talking?
Or assume personal responsibility for everything that leaves your lips?

As soon as a person achieves a certain level of self-awareness, they realize there’s more in life than mere survival.
As soon as their consciences bloom – in concert with the accrued influence exercised by the ‘environment’, individuals set goals for themselves. Which goals become integral part of the ‘ongoing project’. Of the self-actualizing conscience. Achieving, or failing, each of those goals leaves an indelible mark on the conscience itself. On the manner in which each individual relates to their environment.
Since achieving is far more ‘satisfying’ than failing, conscience is naturally biased towards ‘achieving’. If the ‘environment’ ‘allows’ it, the bias becomes more and more ‘slanted’.
The messages used by the individuals – by their conscience, to be more precise, will increasingly serve the purpose of achieving goals rather than the purpose of ‘honest communication’.

As soon as a person achieves a certain level of self-awareness, that conscience wants to survive.
Mind you, not the person but the conscience.

‘?!?
Conscience cannot exist without the mind/body which supports it….’

OK, tell that to people who believe their souls are going places after their mortal bodies expire. Then try to demonstrate to yourself, honestly, that those people are wrong. That there’s no chance for their belief to be ‘true’.

But metaphysics are hard.
Let me give you a far lighter example.
Smoking. Or drinking. Driving fast. Eating that extra piece of chocolate…
Don’t tell me you never did anything ‘foolish’. That you never lied to yourself: ‘This cannot happen to me. Chances are so small that … Only this time….’

‘But otherwise nobody would ever be able to ‘leave their houses’. We’d be all completely paralyzed with fear…’

Yeap! That’s exactly what I mean. Conscience needs to lie to herself in order to remain functional. Otherwise she would not allow the physical body who sustains her to assume any risk.
They would both suffocate.

Maybe it’s to early… I’ll take my chances though.

Germany has weathered this crises a lot better than most of her neighbors.

There are no toll- booths on the German highways. Not that I know of, anyway.

And what has this to do with anything?!?

Well, does your heart bill you for its services?
Your lungs? Your gut? Brain?
The immune system?
Even if each of them works at a cost… for the whole organism!

The health care system is the social equivalent of the immune system.

We, each cultural community around the world, might treat it as an industry. Fine tuned to maximize profit.
Or as a social service. Meant to protect the society from the consequence of disease. And run as efficiently as possible, of course. But sized to be able to cope with reasonably estimated ‘loads’.

There is a fine balance to be held here, of course. A multi-dimensional equilibrium, actually.

It depends on us, as individual members of the brain, to fine tune that equilibrium.

Or else…

All outcome depends on inputs.
When humans are involved, ‘intent’ can be found among inputs.

What do we want, in the present situation?

Basically, to survive! Right?

For as long as possible… as individuals…

The fact that the sum of our individual survivals results in the survival of our species/cultures is a truism. And, maybe, not so important for some of those struggling to survive as individuals.

The point I’m trying to make here being that how we attempt to survive will decisively influence the general outcome.

We might try to survive against the others.
Or we might try to survive with the others. In close – even if ‘distant’, cooperation with the other members of our community/culture/species.

And while surviving we might try to amass whatever we want. Of whatever we’ve always wanted. Doesn’t matter what ‘that’ is. Money, power, prestige… you name it.

Or we might learn something. We might turn Maslow’s Pyramid on its head.
We might use this crises as an opportunity to understand that we’re stronger together.
That cooperation among autonomous individuals generates a lot more chances of survival than attempting to pass through as individuals.
As a lonely individual or as an individual hiding in the middle of a crowd, doesn’t matter.

And we should bear in mind that surviving the crises will be only the first step.
How we do it will shape the stepping stone for how we’ll rebuild our livelihoods.

Life, in general, is a matter of calibrating the intercourse between the inside of the organism and the environment in which it tries to survive. Or thrive…

Social life, both in general and in particular, is a matter of calibrating social intercourse between the members of a society in such a manner that, statistically speaking, the individual members would find it easier to survive/thrive in the given physical environment.
Simply because each surviving/thriving individual adds resilience to the social organism/network.

COVID-19 is nothing but yet another test.
For now – for as long a so many of us are still in ‘surviving mode’, it doesn’t matter “how” or “why”.
All that matter is ‘what’.

“What WE do about it!”

Distance ourselves from the others and allow the pandemic to cool down?
Distance ourselves from the others and allow each of our individual minds to think for itself?

While keeping in mind that long term survival requires the physical presence of as many of us as possible? That our own long term well being requires us to cooperate towards that common goal? As Adam Smith taught us?

Then things will eventually cool down.

And we will have been learned yet another thing.

Both individually and as a cultured species.