The true blocker of lasting change in any society is human physiology; by physiology, we are territorial mammals with strong dominance and preference tendencies, both of our “tribes” and our “possessions”:
– We are wired to prefer sameness and to react with hostility to anything more than moderate differences in our lives.
– We are wired to prefer to engage in behaviors that release dopamine, oxytocin, and vassopressin.
The strength and resilience of this physiology is so overt that it often surprises me how generally ignorant we are as a species about its affects. I suppose no one likes to admit that they’re not as far from being an animal as they’d like to think… but that does nothing to diminish the simple fact that this is the case.
Our ability (or willingness) to develop ourselves apart from our physiology is limited until and unless we hone the process of attempting to do so. That process, which I call the “five steps of realization”, is arduous and frustrating (which is why, I think, it is so unattractive), but it really works well:
The introduction; usually achieved in comparison/contrast to “what this is not” to refine via elimination to a rough idea of “what this may be”. The outcome is a very rudimentary idea that is not well set and open to free challenge.
The processing and refinement of the rough idea into a form that can easily be compared/contrasted to other known forms and further distinguished via this activity. The outcome is a moderately refined idea that is stable enough that the activity of defining and distinguishing granular information is possible.
The activity of moving from high level comparison/contrast activities to granular exploration and discovery of how it may apply to one’s thinking, living, and processing of new information arriving from both activities. The outcome is a sense of “I know this thing; it has these aspects, these constraints, and these characteristics.”
The effort of vigorously challenging what one believes is “known” to establish both (a) areas where development of knowledge is incomplete, and (b) areas where development is validated as complete and (at the moment) unassailable. The outcome is a well-formed and thoroughly defined graduation that one can explain to another from concept to understanding.
The transition from the externalized understanding (i.e., This is something I understand) to fully assimilated understanding (i.e., I realize this fully enough that I can explain it using any other concept because I can draw a conceptual bridge from any concept to this one and develop it to the point of understanding.)
Note: “Realization” I also refer to as “pattern alignment” and is worth its own note.
So what the heck has this to do with pluralism? Well, everything.
Everywhere I look lately, I see people engaging in conflict in an attempt to improve the world. I am still boggled that anyone thinks conflict can possibly bring improvement. It is particularly boggling to me in that these are usually folk who take exception with conflict in other countries as a means of positive change and improvement for them. Hello… pattern alignment, anyone?
I see activism as a form of conflict. This is why I always say that real change is never attained by activism. Indeed, it isn’t and never has been. Pretty much any example someone will point to in our history is NOT an example of activism, but an example of pluralism… of keeping ones life in accord with oneself and not trying to change the choices or accord of other; more specifically, of expressing one’s accord and refusing to be intimidated from doing so. A civil, albeit resilient insistence upon the sanctity of one’s accord in one’s own life is a human’s birthright.
From what I see in history, the shift in society that lasts is the one where presentation of accord (NOT dissatisfaction) is all but unanimous in the society… an obvious majority, even to the casual or dissenting observer. Anything less is simply over-run by the inertia and resistance to change that is inherently human (thus well rooted within human societies). Examples abound; I’m sure you can think of a few.
Historically, whether through destabilization or not, societies that consist of people who allow themselves to be drawn into conflict in the name of resolving conflict usually fall into decline, being either decimated by striation, undone by revolution, or reconstituted in another form. (Revolution doesn’t really change that much of late; look around the world and see for yourself. I’m pretty sure it isn’t the path to “that better place”.)
Simple fact: Civil, passive resistance soundly trumps activism and radical resistance when it comes to long-term achievement and success.
Today’s conflicts are not new, just as today’s problems are not new (even if some have elements of new technology, the underlying reasons are the same as ever):
– The conflicts arise because people want things “now” and they err in thinking that conflict and force can short-cut the activity and effort of developing and living accord.
– The problems arise because people (or groups of them) decide that short-cutting the activity and effort of developing and enforcing ethical protections is “worth it” to them.
If you really want to change the world:
– Help when you see that help will benefit someone else (which is differently from “helping” because you think someone else needs it or should accept it),
– Withdraw when you cannot help or when help is rejected,
– Only do a thing if or when you can do it with consciously beneficial intent,
– Keep to yourself otherwise, and most importantly,
– Do not talk about, denigrate, or spend time around people who do not behave this way.
Note: This goes as much for companies, collectives, or governments as it does for individual people. Who cares (or should have to care) what YOU think? Live in accord with yourself, stop trying to make other people live in accord with you, and we’ll all be happier.
Some call this avoidant. Some call this uncaring. Some call this short-sighted. I suppose numerous labels could be applied. But, those who know me know these things are not accurate… those who do not know me aren’t really of concern to me.
I call this pluralism in action; like you, I own my own life and its choices. I also realize that the choices I make to engage or refrain from engagement with those who do not seem to pursue pluralism is the only way I can ensure for myself that I am seeking it as consistently as possible in the world.
(Admission: I do not always manage consistency in the above myself… but it is an active, conscious, and mindful effort and goal that brings course-correction when I fail. And for the inevitable smart-arses (you know who you are), the difference between this and “trying to make other people live in accord with me” is that I’m not attempting to force someone….. *thumps you on your punkin haid*)
Proximity is not permission. Access is not authorization. Identity is declared, not assigned. Even * said, “I am.”
Fair Warning: I’m nice until you’re not… FAFO.
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