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A DISCOVERY OF PARTS TO WHOLENESS
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
- Buckminster Fuller
Awakening Our Potential
We can find out some fantastic things by looking at the design of the body. Our bodies function with organ parts, each playing particular roles. Similarly, our relationships work with behavioral components, each playing specific roles.
How well humanity functions depends on how well humans act in alignment with those parts.
Discerning the essential qualities for harmony begins by looking at several functional common denominators between body organs and human behaviors.
When we realize that there are crucial behavioral parts for societal wholeness just as readily as we realize that there are essential organ parts for a healthy body, we can positively act in ways that move us into sync with harmonious living.
The Body and the Behavior
Safe, Happy, Equal, and Free
Happiness, and Equality
A Look at the Societal Sphere
Through the beauty of our aligned behaviors and actions, we can transform the many sectors of our society to make them more harmonious.
for Life, Liberty,
Happiness, and Equality
Our body parts and behaviors share functions.
Love and the Heart:
Love and the heart share the function of pumping, giving and receiving.
Thoughtful and the Brain:
Thoughtful and the brain share in common the function of processing.
...And many more.
We can find out so much about our human potential and beauty by looking at the majestic design of the body, a blueprint of harmony and balance.
A New Discovery
It's all based on an objective model. We haven't just selected a set of traits based on a subjective preference. We've selected traits based on a discovery. Begin to learn how it works...
Action and the Whole Body,
Aligning for Wholeness
We can make a more beautiful world by better understanding how to make more beautiful actions. There are actually qualities that comprise beautiful, or harmonious, or aligned, or whole actions. Each of those words, beautiful, harmonious, aligned, whole, are words that describe a very novel concept. A concept you won't, to our knowledge, see anywhere else. The idea is this: the actualization of our potential is achieved when we bring several concepts or qualities or traits into our actions. Particular qualities act like parts of the body, only they are parts of a whole, aligned, harmonious, beautiful action.
How can we assert such a statement?
We can consider an action a whole, like a whole body. A whole body is tangible. We can see it. We can even learn about it, and learn how it has parts, each part serving a main function, and many functions. For example, a heart functions to pump blood and nourishing resources. A healthy heart does that well. Well, our actions can be considered to be a whole "thing", albeit not tangible in the way an object is tangible. To look at an action as a whole, we then would need to see it as having parts. What are those parts? Well, perhaps there is a part that acts like a heart. We suggest that the "part" of our beingness that goes into an action that acts like the heart is the "being loving" part. When we are being loving, what are we doing? What function are we performing? We are performing the function of giving and receiving in ways that nourish. Do you see how that is behaving like the heart? Do you see how that is functioning like a heart? Do you see why we might call the function of giving and receiving or pumping a functional common denominator between the heart and the behavior of being loving? It's important to note, we're not suggesting that there is a metaphor between the way the healthy human body works and the way harmonizing or aligning works. We're suggesting something much more. We're suggesting that there are functional common denominators between the parts of the body and between the parts of a whole action.
Think of a whole action as having parts, much as a whole body has parts. Think of some behavior as acting like a heart (being loving is that behavior - we'll explain further below). Think of some behavior as acting like a brain (being thoughtful is that behavior).
As you begin to see the functional commonalities between several body parts and several beautiful behaviors, you begin to appreciate the power that each trait has to help us create more beautiful actions in our lives.
But the discovery goes much further than showing us how to create whole, aligned, harmonious actions, in our personal lives. The discovery shows that there are also parts to whole aligned systems. Most of us would say that laws are a part of the whole system. But would they think of laws as acting like a part of a whole system? Would they think of laws as being like a particular part of a whole system. There is some historical precedent for thinking this way. Thomas Hobbes, the noted 17th century political scientist wrote a famous work called Leviathan which opens with a comparison of the orderly or well-organized society to the human body. He suggested that we could order a society by turning to the human body as a model. He did not use the term "functional common denominator"and he did not look at an individual action as having parts, but he did assert that there was value in turning to the body to order a system like a society. He wasn't the first to do it. Others before him suggested the possibility that there was a model in the human body. Plato, for one, asserted the value of making a comparison of the societal system to a human body, as did several other individuals. These are only two noteworthy individuals who went down this path.
However, never before has anyone gone as far as we have to suggest that there is a model in nature, the human body, for aligning and harmonizing all systems and actions. Never before has anyone suggested that there is a systems law for harmonizing.
We have a heart, nerves, senses, tendons, muscles and several other organs that play important roles as "parts to a whole" body. So beautiful and important is our heart in our body that it is a symbol of love. And our brain is recognized as a symbol of our thinking power or power for thought, and positive thought we regard as thoughtfulness, closely associated with truthfulness. Alongside the beauty of love, is the beauty of thoughtfulness. See how traits such as being loving and being thoughtful act, or function, like the heart and brain, respectively, and see how societal concepts such as laws and technology, can be made into loving laws and thoughtful use of technology, and you begin to discover that there is a scientific law of nature at work that defines whole, aligned, and harmonious.
You probably cannot help but notice that what we're speaking of as a scientific law of nature, because it makes use of deductive logic, logic which you can assess for yourself, is also seemingly congruent with spiritual notions. What spiritual faith, or even secular ethics, does not also regard concepts such as being loving or being thoughtful and truthful as high concepts, perhaps even pinnacle concepts. What spiritual or ethical body of knowledge does not regard actions as a pinnacle concept. To that point, Aristotle said if a hammer had a soul it would be the act of hammering. His point was that the soul is the act. This is true whether we're speaking of an individual act, or a collective act.
If it is true that there are truly parts to a harmonious act, whether of an individual or a society, then what it means is that there is an order in nature, there is an order in the universe for aligning or harmonizing. It means that we can use that order as a blueprint or model. We can then begin to wittingly, knowingly design our interactions, relationships, processes, organizations and systems to be more harmonious.
Think of the value of this in the following way: if there is some universal law in nature that exists, we, the billions of us that inhabit the earth, can begin to make use of this law, we can begin to make use of this law to redesign and refashion -- what?
We can being to make use of this law to redesign and refashion -- what?
I won't answer that question before stating the following. What are there millions and billions of every single day? If you said actions, you are right. Can you imagine what transformation would be possible if there is truth to the assertion that there are particular parts to a harmonious action? It would mean that the billions of inhabitants who occupy the earth could dramatically improve their actions. To conceive of the significance of this, what you have to do is compare it to something. The best comparison would be to say something like the following. If there are truly parts to harmonizing, and we now as a species are discovering it, if we make use of the knowledge it would be tantamount to the difference between a world with a human species which does not speak or have language versus a human species that does. Let me explain that this way. If it is true that there are particular parts to harmonizing, that we have not known fit like parts to the body, which we can learn about from the way the body behaves, then it means that our attempts to harmonize as a species can dramatically improve based on taking that guidance from the body. If the comparison between a world with and without language does not resonate compare it to the difference between a world of horse and buggy and postal mail versus a world with planes and the internet. That's what we're talking about. We're talking about a dramatic breakthrough. Knowledge that there are parts to harmonious systems and relationships that can be proved with deductive logic opens the possibility that we can bring about dramatically more harmony which means dramatically less harm - more harmonious actions, less harmful actions. We're going to turn to one of the essential parts for harmony, love and loving laws, but before we do, one final point, sometimes people will think of love as the pinnacle concept, and while it might be a tie for the pinnacle concept, realize that action is the manifestation of love - it is love in action that we want; think of it this way, the golden rule is a "do unto others" notion, with the emphasis on "do" - one of the reasons we have a children's book series titled Save the World Dog and the Ucadoo crew is because this notion of you can do it is essential to the actualization of potential - it is a do it, it being love and harmony and wholeness which is so important. If you still struggle with elevating action, and harmonious or whole action, above or on par with love, just recognize that holiness - like wholeness - is an extremely high notion.
What we'd like from you, if you go no further and do not read about another aspect of this scientific law of nature, which can be evaluated with deductive logic, is for you to at least walk away with a new paradigm: We would like you for the rest of your life to think of an action, a whole, a harmonious action as having parts, parts that function just like parts of the body. If you ever experience a harm, or a disharmony, we'd like you to know just as there is a language that allows humans to communicate there is a language - or parts - to prevent harms. The harm that you or another experiences could have been prevented if society brought to our education system the parts for harmonizing much as it brought the parts to a gramatically correct sentence. Our schools teach parts to a sentence, they teach mathematical concepts, the day must come, the sooner the day comes that we teach that there are parts to harmonizing, the sooner we as a species begin to dramatically reduce the harmful actions in the world.
Love and the Heart,
Giving and Receiving for Wholeness
Perhaps you think that there is nothing you can learn about being loving from the human body. Perhaps you think that there is nothing you can learn about being loving from the way that the human body works.
Perhaps you think that there is nothing you can learn about being loving from the way the human heart works.
All your life you've heard and seen comparisons made between a heart and love. What are those comparisons? That the two have a similar shape?
This is Neanderthal thinking.
The human heart, in the modern understanding, with the power of deductive logic is a model to show us how to be loving.
Maybe you don't want to be more loving. Maybe you don't want people to be more loving to you - meaning, maybe you don't want that enough to read about how there is a majestic model right under societies nose - one that has been there all along waiting to be discovered.
If you want to be more loving, all you have to do is learn a very, very, simple comparison. To be more loving, act like a heart in the following way: give time, attention, affection and other resources in ways that nourish much as the heart gives resources to nourish. When we say give, we mean pump, give and receive like a heart pump.
Now, when you read that, it might not sink in to you that what you just read can help you and our world immensely. Part of the reason for that is that until you see how there is a part that acts like the nerve of a body, that part being being responsive, and that there is a part that acts like the brain of a body, that part being being thoughtful, and that there are several other parts, that act like body parts, you're likely not able to see the benefits of this way of understanding life and the world. Part of the reason for it not sinking in is that the world, not Oprah, not Scientific American, no one yet is telling you that there is a breakthrough understanding of how we can align our behavior to make it more fulfilling and satisfying for ourselves and others.
And also, you actually may not be driven to be more loving toward others. If, for example, you are looking to have more loving relationships, you might not also actually be looking to become immensely more loving yourself.
When I say to you, give time to nourish, how do I make that meaningful to you? How do I engender you to share with someone who is looking for more love in their life the simple heart-like function of giving time to nourish? Do I give you examples like empty the dishwasher for your loved one? Do I give you examples like take time out of your day to run an errand or be with a loved one? Aren't these examples so obvious. Yet, the point that isn't so obvious is that "giving time" is an essential aspect of being loving. It's so obvious we might want to not make mention of it. The same could be said of "giving attention." When a loved one is talking to us, do we give them our attention. The heart attends to the need of the body for nourishment. Do we attend to the need for nourishment of our friends, our loved ones and strangers? It is so obvious that giving time and attention, even affection in ways that nourish we behave or function quite like the heart. It is so obvious that it seems to go without mentioning. It seems we cannot learn much from this comparison. Personally, I have learned a lot about being loving from this comparison. It has impressed upon me this aspect of being loving - and it has made it easier for me to be loving to others. Yet, I understand if others are naturally better in this area and so perhaps do not get anything out of this comparison beyond what they already know and do. It is likely though when you see how this concept fits with other concepts that you are able to improve in even the loving category from this knowledge - or, perhaps, it is just a useful way for you to show another how to be more loving.
I would ask you before I move on to writing about another part, what is your opinion,
can we give and receive more love, by learning from the example of the body? By learning from the example of how the heart functions as a pump?
Again, the heart is a well-known symbol of love. Yet, the heart nourishes and it distributes resources throughout the body - that is its main function, or one of its main functions. So too, our love nourishes and distributes to fill the needs of others and society. We can assert to you that the more we want to love, the more we need to become like a heart in our activities and actions, yet, again, you may not want to take this point in and recognize it as a profound realization, one that can dramatically alter lives.
Would it help if we explained also, that loving laws act like a societal heart pump? Would that be more meaningful to you? If we said that it is the laws of a society which direct its resources, would you agree with that? Perhaps, we should better define what we mean by laws. We mean a much more expansive notion than just simple legislative laws. We mean customs, mores, manners, norms, and legislation, even judicial case law and even policy, whether by a government agency, an organization, a business, or even a family or within a relationship, all of these are within the overarching concept laws. We can have loving laws, or unloving laws, and we can have them to varying degrees in between those two ends. If you want people to allocate resources in ways that nourish, then recognize that all laws allocate resources like a heart - a healthy heart allocates resources in ways that nourish. A healthy society, organization, club, family allocates resources, time, attention, affection and other resources in ways that nourish.
Now, since many people have limited ways in which they create policies that allocate, they may not think that it is especially helpful to recognize this societal heart. Yet, if you are a parent, you can think about what you allocate (use of a car, time to be home, time to spend together, time for homework, etc.) as being your role in acting like a heart in your "organization." If you want a healthy organization, including family unit, attend to the way you allocate - it is immensely important. If you do it to nourish, then you are acting like a healthy heart.
Again, this may seem an unnecessary way to think. Do you need to ask yourself if laws must be set to nourish? You may even say to yourself what in the world does it mean to craft laws and policies so that they nourish? Is it worth the time to think this way. My answer is very simple. Imagine a life where you do not care if a loved one gets killed in a car accident because of a drunk driver - or imagine a life where you do not care if a loved one gets killed by a terrorist or a school shooter, it is stark for me to attempt to make a point this way. Yet, I'm trying to compel you to understand that the reason we have not more dramatically as a people, as a society, as a species reduced the volume of accidents and intentional harms is because we have not spent enough time and energy recognize how we can craft laws, policies, norms, mores, customs and manners to give and receive like a healthy heart - to nourish. We have spent countless hours battling about policy differences, this is true. Yet, we have not spent much time at all, overall, as a species thinking about how our laws (including customs, mores, manners, norms) can be made to allocate (or give and receive) in ways that nourish. The only way that I know of to do this, in a scientific and logical - even objective - manner is by turning to the human body to see what it, as a model, has to show us.
There is a field called biomimicry which looks to nature to help us design new products and services that mimic the majesty of animals in nature. It can help in the design of speed trains. This is an active field with a growing interest.
And yet, that field has not devoted itself to learning what nature can show us about designing a societal system or a harmonious ordered organization. Our efforts to reach out to those in that field have so far been unsuccessful. If you are waiting for someone else to tell you we can use the human body as a model for designing loving laws (customs, mores, manners, norms) that may come later than you'd like. The world is facing numerous life-threatening challenges. I won't go into the list of them now. If I could get you to understand how this model - the model of the human body - is superior to any other for yielding harmonizing solutions, in a way that would not require you to study and explore it in depth, yourself - that is, if I could package it in an easily digestible portion I would. To date though, the best we can do is offer it to you in books that do some of the work for you, but nevertheless ask of you some work.
I do not know what it will take for you to see the immense value of learning how the model for a harmonious life and society is the human body. I recognize that if we are to teach this to the society, we need to bring it to schools. But to do that we need a leader who has the power to bring it to schools. And to date, I have not found that leader. We have not found that leader.
With the course we are on, we will not see a dramatic reduction in crime and economic suffering for years or decades. This course can be dramatically altered. If people were to realize that we can, within our existing organizations and structures begin to give more time, attention, affection and other resources to nourish, and that we can create allocations, through laws, customs, mores, manners and norms bent on nourishing, which would require also learning the other parts to a harmonious relationship and society, we could change the millions and billions of actions and interactions that occur each day for the better. It - saving and changing the world, or at least saving and changing lives for the better - will require us to do business, meaning behave in a dramatically different way than we have been. Only a dramatic breakthrough and an objective one, short of some other miraculous event, will give us the direction we need to turn this massive ship in a different direction. Think of it this way, every day the guidebook we are using today for what we will do with our day - this applies to millions and billions of people - is that of the capitalist and democrat, socialist or communist system, along with the moral precepts (whether from religion, spirituality, or ethical beliefs). There is to date, other than this breakthrough discovery, no objective model that can provide us a universal approach grounded in logic. But to use it, it will take some early adopters, some leaders. Not leaders in engineering, not leaders in technology or coding, not leaders in philosophy, or writing or education - it will take some leaders in the field of love. That is the field a person must be interested in in order for them to explore how the body is an objective model for our lives to be more harmonizing - less harmful - and our societies and world to be more harmonizing - less harmful.
Thoughtfulness and the Brain,
Processing and Thinking for Wholeness
If you've read to this point, reading first about action and the whole, or wholeness, reading about love and the heart, then one thing you've been doing is been giving thought - you've been giving thought to how to create more harmony or wholeness in one's life and in the world. You've been thoughtful. You've been functioning, in your behavior, in being thoughtful, much as a brain functions. You've been using processing power, memory and storage to compute, or think, about how body parts function and about how a behavioral part (being loving) functions.
Our society, and individuals today, give tremendous thought to things like how much money they spend - they may be thoughtful about how much to give (it's Christmas Day, right now, as we're working on this). Or, they may be thoughtless about how they give. Our society, and individuals today, spend countless hours frivolously, spending considerable time and giving immense resources to entertainment and sports. While some of that time and resources given is valuable and essential for health and happiness some of it is overindulgent, as a whole.
How much time will we, as individuals be willing to give to exploring something like the assertion that there is a breakthrough understanding of how lives and organizations may be harmonized. We, Cathy and I, have reached out to numerous individuals over the last several years, sharing with them this breakthrough understanding. At times, we've been received positively and even been made some promises that we'd be helped to get this message out, only to see those promises not kept. Other times, our efforts have fallen on deaf ears. Part of the reason for this, make no mistake about it, is that what we are sharing and suggesting takes thought. The person reading it must care and give thought. Think about the word thoughtful, it means care and consideration. The heart and the brain are closely related. To give thought requires a big heart. I mentioned it's Christmas today.
Do we have a culture which has members with big hearts, willing to give thought to an idea that takes thought. If not, it leads me to a perspective that we have a culture like the Grinch, with a heart three sizes (at least) too small. Now, my hope is that soon someone - many people - will be compelled to open to the possibility that they - need - they personally need this breakthrough discovery, whether they need it for their own personal desire to be loving and to be loved, or they need it for their own personal desire to see a more harmonizing, more humane world.
So, I ask you: Can we learn to have more thoughtful relationships from the example of the brain in the body? Let's go through it once more.
Being thoughtful is a simple matter of giving something very particular: thought. It is acting like a healthy brain. A healthy brain uses processing, memory and storage to think. Well, being thoughtful, we use processing, memory and storage to think (of ourselves and others in balance). Do I need to provide examples of what it means to be thoughtful, or do you already see - and realize on your own? When you remember another's birthday or what they want for their birthday, you are said to be thoughtful. I could give example after example, but you don't need that. What you need, or will benefit from, is not my stating the obvious but making the point to you that this is how profoundly simple this whole thing is (pun unintended). Being thoughtful, in sync with this scientific law of nature is as simple as putting your mind (processing, memory and storage) into behaving or functioning like a healthy brain. Let's take this a step further.
The brain works in conjunction with the heart and other organs to guide the body physically. It takes information from the senses, it coordinates with the nervous system to guide our actions, and it helps regulate the heart's pace and blood flow. So too, we can move from thought to thoughtfulness by connecting our thinking to our sensitivity, responsiveness, love, and other beautiful behaviors. Sensitivity is a behavior that acts like the senses - we'll look at that below. When we act thoughtfully we don't just use processing, memory and storage to care and consider, acting like a brain in isolation, we do those by connecting our sensitivity and our love.
Learn how the thoughtfulness part works with the responsiveness part and the sensitivity part and others along with the loving part, and you'll begin to realize the reason this discovery is so powerful for your life and the world - but yes it takes work, and a particular type of work: thought work and care work.
Now, again, many people, most people, I dare say are too busy and too preoccupied with other approaches - this breakthrough will not be received and embraced and endorsed by ordinary people. It will take some extraordinarily giving and caring individuals to help bring this to the world. We say this after years of experience sharing it with people. Most people look at it and move on to something else not realizing society needs this if we are going to dramatically reduce crime and harmful accidents, poverty, homelessness, disease and other challenges to the human species. Ask yourself, is it working? Is what we've been thinking about as individuals and as a species working? Or, are we suffering from too many ails? And are we headed in the wrong direction? Do you want to be at the forefront of perhaps the biggest breakthrough in human growth and development? If so, there's room for you. There is plenty to do to help spread this knowledge, and to teach humanity - how we can be truly human - and wonderfully human.
It is particularly important that we do this now. As our society embarks on what it means to develop AI and robots and artificial forms of life, and technologies, it is extremely important that we step up what it means to be thoughtful about how we develop. Tools and technologies are extensions of the mind. Much as a fork is an extension of the hand and fingers, brought about by thought, all tools and technology are extensions brought about by thought. We can extend our ability to harm or we can extend our ability to harmonize. If we use our power for processing, memory and storage to bring about caring, loving solutions we will be aligning for wholeness and the actualization of our potential. If we do not use our power to develop in ways that are thoughtful, we will simply create more harm, the type of harm that comes about with thoughtlessness. Thoughtful use of technology is society's healthy brain part. Thoughtless use of technology is society's unhealthy brain part. Where do you feel we fall on the thoughtful - thoughtless continuum. Are we developing technology in a well thought out harmonizing way?
Many people elevate the value of truth - what they fail to realize that it is the computing power of the behavior of thoughtfulness, linked to the giving, caring behavior that will determine whether we know truth and whether we exhibit truthfulness in our behavior - truthfulness to ourselves and truthfulness to others.
Recognize the role of thoughtfulness in respect to truthfulness, recognize the role of thoughtfulness in respect to being loving, and be driving to bring it about in your own life and in the lives of others and you will be driven to change the world by highlighting for the world the power of traits.
As John Naisbitt said, "The most exciting breakthroughs of the 21st century will not occur because of technology but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human." And yet, the money, the investment capital is going to breakthroughs in technology. The investment capital must go to bringing about thoughtful technology if we are to get the benefits of the human's healthy brain.
Responsiveness and the Nerves,
Responding for Wholeness
To this point, we've suggested that it is a major breakthrough to recognize that we can model our lives and society on the human body. Admittedly, there is a lot left to explain to show why it is so helpful to recognize that nature, in the form of the human body, has a model for harmony and harmonizing. Besides the need to explain more, what we've explained so far in the sections on Action, Love and Thoughtfulness, or Aligned Action, Loving Laws and Thoughtful Technology may not seem to be of immense value. One of the reasons for this is that when we suggest that being loving we give time, attention, affection and other resources to nourish, it seems were stating the obvious. Yes, we're stating that there is a function in common between the body's heart and the behavior of being loving - that function is giving and receiving to nourish. But, nevertheless, the value of that, at first, to this point, simply seems to be that it suggests only something obvious: that we learn from the similarity and be more giving and receiving of our time, attention and affection in ways that nourish. That again seems only to state something we sort of already know. How many of us would say before we saw the comparison that being loving we give and receive in ways that nourish, and that we give and receive things like time, attention, affection and other resources to nourish. Many of us would think of this as common sense. What's uncommon is the idea that that concept works with another concept and another and another, each like parts of the body. Sure, the same limited value might be said of learning that being thoughtful we process, or think like a healthy brain. How many of us would say it's common sense that being thoughtful we use processing power, memory and storage to think of others, or to care and consider others? Many of us would recognize that and not be sure of the real value of seeing - or understanding - the commonality between the human body and the behavior. Does it matter that there is a functional common denominator, that of thinking well, or processing well, between the brain and being thoughtful? Note, a visual way to depict this is as follows:
To this point, you may naturally think that there is not considerable value in this approach.
You might, nevertheless, have an intuitive sense that this comparison is shaping up to give us, if the comparisons continue, an objective way to understand a concept such as harmonizing or wholeness or alignment or actualization of our potential. Yet, again, just learning that the way the heart works is functionally similar to the way being loving works and just learning that the way that the brain works is functionally similar to the way that being thoughtful works does not seem to have immense value. It is when you recognize the other many parts that all of a sudden things really seem to open up.
When you see that you can be more responsive and you can help create a world that is more responsive by learning how responsiveness works like a nerve, you'll get a better sense for the immense value of learning this approach, and of learning nature's approach to harmonizing.
To help explain, I'm going to share a little story. But, let me contextualize the story. Let's say that the world is like the Titanic, just setting out to sea. It's not necessarily the Titanic on a doomed mission, but let's say that it is. Let's say you knew that the Titanic was going down, could you stop it from going down? If you knew before it set sail that it was going down, could you have stopped it from that fate? If not, could you have stopped some from having boarded? Well, the world may not be the Titanic, our society might not be the Titanic - but some people are getting aboard a ship that is heading for doom. All those using opioids are at a high risk for dying prematurely. All those engaged in high risk or unhealthy pursuits are at a high risk of being harmed. When we say we are trying to teach a message about how to harmonize we are attempting to dramatically reduce the chances of people being harmed.
What we are doing is being responsive. And what we are attempting to do is be responsive in the way that the nerves are responsive. What do the nerves do? I won't go into detail at the moment, but I'll say summarily that what they do is they help the body respond to the body's need for life (and life's essentials), for liberty, for happiness, and its need to be treated equally or at least relatively equally. Isn't it true that all of us value life, liberty, happiness and equality to varying degrees? Sure, some of us may favor liberty over life, or life over liberty, but we all, universally value these. This is why the Declaration of Independence treated and asserted these as self-evident inalienable rights. But understand it is not because the Declaration asserted that these rights are important that we suggest they are important. We suggest they are important because the physical body values them. We'll explain more about why we should value them, by showing how there are functional commonalities between valuing them and how the body values them, later below (in separate sections on each: life, liberty, happiness and equality). For now, simply consider why we say that the body's responding function, the function that the nerves serve, is suggestive of the value that responsiveness plays in our lives and in our world for harmonizing. I'll explain by way of a story, and I'll tie it in to the point I began to make about the Titanic.
This morning, at the cafe, sitting next to Cathy and me was a man with two volumes of Norton's Shakespeare Anthology. I commented that I was glad he brought both parts today, since the other day I had seen him and said to him, that's quite a big book and he had remarked, it's only half of it. Well, today, he had the whole thing. We got to talking more today and found out that he's a professor of literature and philosophy. So, after talking for a little while, we got around to what we write about and we gave him a copy of Creating Harmony. We explained a little about the approach we take, comparing functions of the body to functions of behaviors, and it led him to comment how he teaches (in his college level course at Shepherd University in West Virginia) various different comparisons that are made to the human body. He referred to Plato, Hobbes and even Freud. Those by Freud are very different than what we explain, to be clear, nevertheless, it should lead him to be able to understand what we're explaining more readily than some who have no background in this type of analysis.
Now, one of the points he made to us is that we should try to get an agent. I explained to him that agents tend to want you to have a platform. Yes, Cathy began last week looking to put together a list of agents. She did this after we watched a video from an agent and publishing coach that explained that you should put together a list of thirty agents. But, we understand that unless we have a lot of followers it will be hard to get an agent to respond to us. See this story does have something to do with responding and responsiveness. I said to him, one thing we would love from him is for him to review the book we gave him and give us a supporting quote if he wanted to. He explained he didn't have the money to buy the book, but we were happy to give it to him as a gift and hoped he could give us a supporting quote. I explained that was one thing that would help us to get an agent - if we could get several supporting quotes from knowledgable people in the field that would help. He also explained that he didn't have a lot of time to review the book. So, you can see, we really didn't get very far. And this from someone who has read about the topic and also who has an interest in literature and philosophy. Here's the point: If he isn't able to respond who is.
Whose job is it to understand a discovery, a scientific discovery of a law of nature.
This is where we get back to our imaginary situation - where someone foresees that the Titanic is not going to make it. Whose job is it to say society needs this discovery of a scientific law? Is it the philosophy professor at a college? Whose job is it?
Whose job is it to be responsive if lives depend upon it? If liberty depends upon it? If happiness depends upon it? If equality depends upon it?
Well, fortunately you don't have to think about whether the world depends upon it in order to be motivated to learn it. You can think about other more everyday goals you have. It could just be that learning this will help you with your everyday goals. That's the argument we make. We explain that it can help you to actualize your potential - that's another way of saying it can help you to achieve your goals. So, if you've come this far in the reading, take a few more minutes to learn how you can be more responsive to your own goals for life, liberty, happiness and equality - and to learn how you can engender more responsiveness to those ideals from others, and for others.
It would be nice for me to suggest to you some very simple way for you to learn the benefits of becoming responsive in the way the nerves are responsive. Unfortunately, it is very hard for me to make the following seem appealing. Imagine that you were able to respond well to others, imagine you were to be able to respond in a timely fashion to others, imagine you were able to say just the right thing to make others feel good and uplifted and happy. All by learning how the nerve works. Well, you likely would not be motivated to learn how the nerve works in order to achieve those relatively seemingly extra things that you really don't need to learn. However, if I were to say to you, imagine that the world was more responsive to your needs, or imagine that people were more responsive to you, they called you back promptly, they said just what you wanted to hear, they were complimentary, validating, positive and upbeat - imagine if learning this discovery could bring about those gifts for you. Then you might be motivated to learn this. To a person who might be thinking, "I'd be more interested in learning this if I were going to get something out of it, rather than if it means that I am the one who has to give something more." I'd say, you have the thought process all wrong. You probably would agree that having some control over your destiny would be a good thing. The great thing about this discovery is that you actually do have control over whether you yourself are harmonizing - and it will take some time for you to realize that by actually realigning yourself, you will begin to see more harmonizing behavior from those around you and also you will have more harmony in your life. You even will begin to have a better balance of life's essentials, liberty, happiness and equality in your life.
Now, it will take you learning about the other parts and applying that knowledge before you will see the results.
Right now, next to me as I'm typing this, Cathy is addressing the postcards we're planning to send to some people who have the resources to invest in what we're doing, people who could possibly invest money in helping us to get this message to the world. She's up to about her 200th card, just what's needed to qualify for the bulk rate discount.
I have to say, I understand that a wealthy individual looking at what we're suggesting might be thinking "I buy happiness and I buy personal harmony."Perhaps, there is a reason that a wealthy person who reads about this discovery might think he or she does not need it. I really should say he, because one thing that Cathy noticed in addressing the cards from the list we got(of mostly billionaires), it's like 95% men. But put that aside, yes, I realize that there is the thought out there that people achieve happiness and harmony by working toward and realizing financial and career success, and balancing their lives by having time for family, civic engagement, a social life, etc. That is, admittedly a very different way to think about how to achieve harmony and alignment and wholeness and balanced growth and actualization of potential. What this discovery is suggesting is that you simply put concepts, such as being loving, thoughtful, responsive and several others in the forefront of your minds so that you can bring those qualities into decisions you make and actions you take, guided toward achieving the ideals of life, liberty and happiness for all, and in so doing you will be harmonizing. I know this is a very different way to think. It is also, in some ways, not a very material way to think. That is, it does not place a premium on financial and material accumulation, rather it places a premium on taking steps and taking measures to achieve a balance of life (life's essentials), liberty, and happiness for oneself and for others, equally. So, back to the example of the professor we spoke with this morning (it's now 7:50 p.m., and I've resumed writing after a day of work. Cathy's about six or more hours into handwriting postcards). He is in a position to respond, or said differently, to be responsive to two people who could really benefit from him offering a supportive quote. Sure, he's not a big wig - he doesn't have a big name, he's only a small time professor - we could look at it this way, but he is nevertheless a professor and so his supporting quote would mean something. Additionally, he might be able to have us speak to his class - Cathy wants me to do the speaking, so I should say, have me speak to his class. He might be able to give in that way. If he does that, if he makes the decision to give in that way, he would be balancing his life's essential needs, his liberty needs, his happiness needs with two other individuals' needs for each of those. That is, he will be helping two other individuals to succeed in being happy, living freely, and earning an income from doing so. He, of course, will have to take a little time away from something. Perhaps, from, if not from his work or family, from some hobby or mindless entertainment. This is part of responding like a nerve. When we respond like a healthy nerve we make different choices. It's really hard to see from this brief overview, but what you will find is that when you learn to be responsive to values, such as the value for life and life's essentials, the value on liberty and happiness, for all, you change the way you behave.
"Jeff Rothschild. That's the last one for tonight," Cathy says. 22 pages (of names)."
"So that's about 220 or so, wow," I reply.
Think of what we're responding to, me in writing this, Cathy in inputing into the writing as she does, in editing and reviewing the writing, in illustrating the children's books and in addressing these postcards, and in the numerous other ways, including designing this website. We're responding to the need we perceive in society for a solution to many of its challenges. That perceived need along with a deep belief in the possibility of a solution actually led us to find what we believe is a significant solution. We were in many ways responding to a passion to help bring about life, liberty and happiness for more people.
Now, you have the benefit of learning some things that it took us weeks, months and years to uncover and understand. We're summing it up for you. So, when we suggest to you that you give some thought to why the being responsive we act like a healthy nerve, we realize that it takes some work for you to do this, but we also realize that we've made it, in some ways easier for you.
So, this is going to be a little rough for you to learn, but trust us, it has immense value. Stick with this explanation and it will help you to be more responsive and to bring more responsiveness into your life.
The reason that learning to respond like a nerve has so much value is not simply because it causes us to respond in ways that balance our aims for life, liberty and happiness, it is also that it causes us to think more and care more about the reasons, and considerations for our decisions: that is, it causes us to think about and care more about life reasons and considerations, liberty reasons and considerations and happiness reasons and considerations. To make what I am saying clear, here, I should refer to the current movement among many to question leadership that is profit-focused, and to champion leadership that is people-focused. People focused, or people first, leadership is really leadership that champions the human ideals, and what are they? They are life, liberty and happiness for all.
You see, if this is not making powerful sense to you yet, what I've been trying to get across, perhaps, I can make the point succinctly this way: it is not enough to say we ought to and can be more loving, more thoughtful and more responsive, without also saying what makes us more loving, more thoughtful and more responsive. What makes us more loving, thoughtful and responsive is not just that we love, or give thought, or respond, but rather it is dependent about what we love, what we give thought to, and what we respond to. And we are saying, in this discovery, that what we need to love, give thought to, and respond to is the values of life, liberty and happiness.
Contrast that to loving money, or material goods, or video games, or movies, or capitalistic driven production of goods and services. Loving people having their life, liberty and happiness is a dramatically different type of love. It asks, will that product or service give people more or less of their life's essentials, more or less freedom, more or less happiness.
The challenge here is that we have to think of groupings, or categories. And often people don't want to think in terms of group headings. I can explain it this way. Do you really need to know of the group headings fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy? You can probably eat fairly healthily without knowing those groupings. Yet, you might benefit from knowing them. Or, a different example, you could if you wanted a poodle simply get a poodle without ever thinking that you want a dog. Yet, you might actually start out thinking, do I want a dog or a cat. Or a fish. Grouping things can help our efforts. The same is true with striving for overall actualization of our potential. It can help to know that a stepping stone toward the actualization of our potential is achieving some measure, some amount of each of these major values categories: life, liberty and happiness - for oneself and others.
We'll look more, below, at the values of life, liberty, happiness and equality. But for now, just know that learning about life, liberty, happiness and equality is like learning how to eat well.
You might, even after reading this lengthy explanation be asking yourself, can we really learn to have more responsive relationships from the example of the body? It is reasonable to think this way. This is a new paradigm. No one has ever told you learn to respond like a nerve. However, you have heard the expression have nerve and you have heard the comparison of having nerve to having courage. Is it coincidental that the having nerve has become a popular metaphor for having courage? Not likely. More likely is that underlying the connection between the nerves and courage is deep meaning. What is courage but a just and right response to a challenge or opportunity.
We should explain, if responsiveness is a part of a healthy action or a healthy relationship, responsive rights are a part of the healthy society. Responsive rights are what governments, businesses, organizations, and families, and really all of us create on a daily basis. A right is really simply what we give to others. We give others the right to play their music loudly or not, to go first out the door, or not, to use the computer or television, or not... these are all rights - we extend people the right to do this or that, and we assign penalties if others do what we don't want them to do, or if they don't do what we want them to do. This is right-setting - we can set rights which are responsive to life, liberty and happiness, for all, or we can set rights which are not responsive to life, liberty and happiness for all. Responsive right-setting is the nerve of a healthy society.
Perhaps, a short table will help you to see the interpersonal sphere parts and the societal sphere parts along with their functional commonalities with the parts of the body.
What you should take away from this if you're reading this for the first time is simply that we can take a lesson from the nerves and make responsiveness one of our daily activities, or rather part of all our activities. We can respond appropriately to the world around us. Daily life calls us to respond frequently. Our nerves naturally guide us to seek pleasurable stimuli and to avoid those that cause physical pain. When we respond to the needs for life, liberty, happiness for one and all, including ourselves and when we set rights that help bring these about we yield more meaningful pleasure and less pain and harm.
When you see how being sensitive and empathetic and meaningful relate to these concepts, of being loving, thoughtful and responsive, the parts concept will come together better for you. For now, we can turn to the importance of uniting with others - and how that mimics what the nerves do.
Uniting and the Tendons,
Connecting for Wholeness
"No man is an island," it is said. That line, from a John Donne poem, makes the point that we are all connected. Perhaps, I should insert the poem from John Donne, here (perhaps, also fitting since the day started out with a conversation Cathy and I had with a professor, who was working taking notes about the great poet Shakespeare, in the cafe). Donne wrote the following, famously:
'No Man is an Island'
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Olde English Version
No man is an Iland, intire of itselfe; every man
is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine;
if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe
is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as
well as if a Manor of thy friends or of thine
owne were; any mans death diminishes me,
because I am involved in Mankinde;
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
Can we harmonize without teamwork? The word, or concept, unity, also referred to as interdependence, is revered in all religions, faiths and even secular ethics. The idea also is depicted by a function of the part of the body. The tendons connecting as they do muscle to bone serve a function as a connector. Unity, or being uniting, we function as a connector. I heard the other day on the radio, someone being interviewed and the announcer or the interviewee said, "social media, and facebook, as an example, is the connective tissue of society. Well, really uniting, or anywhere we unite or come together bringing our strengths, and adding flexibility, is the connective tissue or tendons.
The tendons, or connective tissue, the connector in the body, is there to give us flexibility and a wider range of movement. So too, this connector, being uniting, functions to give us individually more flexibility. We can do more through the unity or teaming or partnering with another. So natural is uniting that we have developed, as our species has grown and evolved, units, such as families, tribes, communities, lands, nations, and cross-border alliances. We have developed organizations, companies, corporations, teams, clubs and so on, all reflective of this important idea of uniting with others. Unity is in each of these.
If there is a model for harmonizing in the body, then we can ask what do the tendons do for the body? Again, by being flexible the tendons allow us to move with a greater range than the body would otherwise be able to if not for their ability to variedly connect. So too, we as individuals would not be able to move with such a great range as we are able if not for the power of unity and uniting. Think of some of the most obvious and literal ways in which we see this truth at work. Take a train, a plane, a bus, any form of transportation - we literally go further and faster by "uniting" with those others who provide these services. We, of course, do not need to look to the transportation sector to see the point being aimed at, that uniting is a powerfully important part of harmonizing. We can turn to any organization or company to see that it is the coming together of individuals with different strengths and talents that allows us to get more done than we otherwise would get done. Even a very basic example, the workers at a cafe manage to get far more done because of the uniting and teaming that has taken place to make it all possible.
So, let me ask you, have you learned anything by thinking about the concept of uniting in terms of the tendons? If you say, no, you already knew that being uniting is important, then to you I'd say this: yes, it is true that the idea that being uniting, and teaming with others, is of value is something that is common knowledge and so learning that the human body's tendons do this by flexibly connecting bones to muscle does not seem to have much value. Yet, what if I were to ask you what acts like the bones in a harmonious whole relationship? What acts like the muscles in the harmonious whole relationship or process? Perhaps, if we learn what unity must connect with, knowing that unity acts like the tendons will become more valuable.
At this point, what you might want to ask yourself is whether you yourself can unite better with others in order to succeed. I brought up briefly that Cathy and I met a professor of literature and philosophy this morning at the cafe. I recognize that for Cathy and I to be able to share this message, this discovery, with more people it is going to require us to unite with others who have strengths that we don't have. Recently, we reached out to a person who creates animated videos because we'd like to see if adding animation of the superhero series we've created for children will help us to make more sales of those books and to get an agent. The animator charges $40 per hour, so it may not be something we can afford. The question is, alternatively, can we find a way to unite by bringing our strengths together with hers if there is a fit in the style and interests? Some may think that trying to form partnerships in this way is not the way to build a business - and yet, it is exactly the way that numerous businesses are created. Take for example, college kids that come together in college to form a company - they do it without paying each other, they do it because they have a shared realization that they need to work together. I can think of one example I came across personally. Brad Hargreaves was a Yale college student, who, along with three others, formed a company or product called gocrosscountry.com - it was a game that college students could play and compete with other college students at other campuses. Brad later went on to be one of the founders of another company called General Assembly. And then another company called Commons. He's been very successful in creating companies. There can be no question that uniting with others is essential for individuals to actualize their potential. Yet, one question you might have is do you really need to know that the tendons are a model to show us how we can unite better.
Said differently, can we learn to be more uniting with one another from the example of the body's tendons? Again, the tendons act flexibly to connect the body's structure or bones to muscles. We're suggesting, that so too, we connect with one another by being flexible and by connecting with others. When we look, next at what acts like the bones, you'll better see how this comparison to the tendons is of value. Here's a short preview: when we connect our unique structure, or our individuality, with that of others we form better unions.
Further, we foster uniting, or unity, by recognizing what acts like the muscles. Acting meaningfully we act like the muscles, that is, we act like the healthy muscles. We can learn how to unite better by learning not only how uniting with others functions like a healthy tendon, but also by learning how seeking to act, and acting meaningfully, we function like the healthy muscles.
For now, take away this point: Proper uniting can help us to heal disparities and disharmonies. Proper uniting can help foster harmony and growth. The more we connect with others in healthy ways, the more helpfully flexible we become. The more we unite well, the more we move past tensions that pull us, or tear us, apart. The more we reconcile and harmonize the tensions, the stronger we are as a whole.
The more we promote unequal relationships, the less well we unite, and the less flexible and uniting we are. By contrast, when we act purposely to give and contribute to others, we strengthen our bonds. The more we look to get from the earth, or the more we look for what's in it for me, for my ego, the less we form strong unions. The disconnecting actions and steps create arthritic barriers in relationships, which make us unmovable and cause pain. By contrast, when we take connecting actions and steps we improve our range of movement and feelings of pleasure.
This notion of being uniting in our relationships is similar to the notion of nationwide or worldwide unity.
This idea that uniting is as important to our lives and world, and our love, and our harmonizing, as the tendons are to the body is so critical. And yet, why isn't it championed on par with other concepts such as gratitude, compassion and empathy. So often you'll hear people - or read stories of people championing one of those three, or grit or some other part, some other concept as being the most important.
The next time someone says one quality is the most important, remember this concept of unity and ask yourself or them why unity is not equally important?
If they say they don't know, then realize and perhaps share with them this knowledge that these concepts are parts. There is a value to gratitude, compassion and empathy, but know what part or role each plays and there is a lot more you can do with that knowledge than without that knowledge.
Individualizing and the Bones,
Structuring and Supporting
If the human body has a part, the tendons, that serves as a connector, acting as sort of a teaming agent, one might wonder if the human body has a part which exhibits the qualities that reflect the value of the individual. Much as teamwork and individual contribution go together in various aspects of life, for example, in sports and at work, and even in the family, so too, the connecting power of the tendons goes with the individuating aspects of the bones. The bones give the body its unique structure. Our individuality gives our lives, and our relationships, their unique structure.
Can we learn to be a stronger, more contributing individual from the example of the body's bones?
The bones provide structure and uniqueness to each and every person and connect the muscles to our tendons. So too, we can bring our individual gifts to others.
Expressing true individuality goes beyond the traditional notions that we do so through dressing differently, appreciating different music, participating in different activities and expressing our voice and views freely. Individuality means finding that gift that we have uniquely.
It is hard for me to say what others' unique gifts are. That is best for a person to say for themselves. I can, however, reflect on where I think I'm unique and how I think I can make a unique contribution to the world. There may be many ways. One very obvious way is with this breakthrough discovery. Another is with the children's books. There, are of course other ways to express uniqueness in a way that contributes to a broader whole or team. It might be in one's role as a parent or loving partner. It might be in one's role as a caregiver. There are innumerous ways in which we can provide a unique contribution to the world.
If we haven't thought about the importance of individuality, and sharing a unique gift with the world, perhaps, recognizing that your unique gift is like the structure upon which a harmonious relationship with another is built will help you to make bringing your unique gift forth a priority. Certainly, it is conventional wisdom to think that we all, in our relationship bonds, bring something unique to that relationship. Knowing, however, that our uniqueness and our unique gifts serve as a frame or structure underscores just how important this quality is. In an everyday sense, we know the value of individual contribution - we see it around us in team sports, as perhaps the most visible and easiest way to relate to the importance of it.
Most people already know that individual contribution is essential, to their lives and their relationships. They see themselves as needing and wanting to contribute in a special way to their companies, customers and clients at work. They see themselves as needing and wanting to contribute in a special way in their relationships.
What many people, however, may not do is broaden their expectation of themselves - they may not see that they have a unique role in the team we call society. If society were a team, would the positions be fireman, nurse, bus driver, etc.? And would your unique contribution be in one of those roles? Or, would positions be even more specific, with each individual responsible for some heroic and extraordinary role, task or action. By heroic or extraordinary role I mean that one taps into one's abilities to do something extraordinarily unique in that it is supportive to others and society in a unique way. It could be in a small way or in a large way - that is, it can seem to only affect one individual life, a small number of individuals, or it could affect a large number, but it does so through some unique "give." We might think of the movie It's a Wonderful Life, with James Stewart playing the character George Bailey. Bailey had the opportunity and took it to save two lives during his life. And he helped change the course of other lives. And he did so in ways that affected people's ability to realize their life's essentials, liberty and happiness.
If you don't know what your unique gift is, don't worry about it, just be on the lookout to see who you can help and how you can help them. In the process, your unique ability will come out. Your unique value as a structural support will come out if you make it your aim to be a helper in the world.
To be clear, bring your efforts to be loving, thoughtful, responsive and uniting, among other traits, together with your desire to express and share what you are uniquely passionate about and gifted in doing. In other words, to help you find your unique role and value in the world, use the giving and receiving power of being loving, use the thinking and processing power of being thoughtful, use the responding power of being responsive, use the connecting power of being uniting - in so doing, it will help you to discover your own unique gift.
And much as your life, and your close relationships depend upon you to express, share and live your individual gifts, society needs individuality. If society had a bones part, it would be the concept of individuality.
America, historians have said, was built on what they term "rugged individualism." It is the idea that the individual should be free from government interference. People may vary on the extent to which they believe this should be the case, but they generally agree that there should be some limits as to how far the government is to involve itself in the lives of individuals. The Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution in large part to allow individual liberty, and by extension, individualism. In sociology, "Individualism makes the individual its focus and so starts 'with the fundamental premise that the human individual is of primary importance in the struggle for liberation.'" Source: google definition.
With such a significant valuation on individualism, we might take it further to understand that individualism plays a role in society which is similar to the bones in the body. It is the support structure for society. It is the individualism that often leads to greater creativity. On the downside, it also can lead to unhealthy expression. This is why we must see how the bones, or individuality and individualism can connect with the senses and muscles, and the traits that act like those parts as well...
Sensitivity and the Senses,
Sensing and Detecting for Wholeness
A player makes an amazing catch. His senses detect a ball coming at him, or in this case heading right for the journalist.
Prior to the ball heading toward them, his senses and her senses are on each other, engaged in an interview. We might skip over the role of the heart and our care, and move right to the role of the senses and our sensitivity, but we can back up and make an important point. What brought her to the stadium? What brought him to the stadium? He was there perhaps because he loves baseball. She was there perhaps because she loves being a reporter. What we love, or what we care about doing guides us to where we spend our time. We noted this above, in the section on heart and love.
It's important not to overlook the role of how our care guides us.
It even guides our senses.
Let's separate out the physiological action that is going on in that scene in the video from the behavioral action that is going on. The physiological action involves a heart beating in the baseball player. His physical senses, eyes and ears are trained on his interviewer. His brain is engaged in thinking about what she is asking him and what he is going to say. Somehow, perhaps he heard the ball heading his way, perhaps he saw the ball in his peripheral vision heading his way. He was able to know, from the years of playing and practice, and from a defensive instinct where to put his hand and just at the exact time. This is the physical realm we're referring to.
Yet, there, the behavioral realm is not far removed from the physical realm. His heart beating and his eyes seeing and his ears hearing are not that far from his behavioral operations. His care moved him to turn his body, outstretch his arm; his sensitivity, his behavioral sensitivity, and good sense, caused him to do this. We generally do not think of our senses as being so closely relevant to our sensitivity. Yet, they are. They are as closely related in all aspects of our life as in that catch. What we see and hear, or choose to see and hear reflects not only our sensing but also our sensitivity. We can say that that ball player was highly sensitive to his surroundings (sure, he might in the future be more sensible and not have his back turned to the hitter, nevertheless he got the job done). He was able to save the reporter from being struck and likely injured. Most of the time, our sensing, meaning where we put our eyes and ears does not lead to a physical protection of another. However, where we put our eyes and ears does lead to a relationship protection. If we put our eyes and ears to media or people in ways that violate our trust with a loved one we can say that we are being insensitive to that loved one's feelings. The two, our senses - or, how we use them - and our sensitivity are intertwined.
There is, of course, a very close relationship between the word sensing and the word sensitivity. Sensing is a function. It is a function of the senses. It is also a function of the word, or concept, sensitivity. Sensing well, we might say, we are appropriately sensitive. The two concepts, again, are intertwined.
If we are having trouble seeing the value of relating the role that our senses play to the role our sensitivity plays, it could be because we find it hard to believe that the concept is essential to a harmonious relationship. So, in case you don't fully appreciate the role of sensitivity and how essential it is, and also how it works for harmonizing, I'm going to make a related point. Consider the role of social sensitivity in a society, or data sensitivity in an organization or company. Data sensitivity, a concept commonly recognized in business, refers to the detection of data that affects all sorts of business decisions, decisions such as what to sell, what to produce, how much to sell or produce, at what price based on data regarding consumer preferences. This is what is called sensitivity analysis. More broadly, in society, it is commonly recognized that social responsibility is an obligation of people and companies - it is social sensitivity that precedes response. You probably recognize how essential data sensitivity is to guide response. Well, the same is true in interpersonal relationships. Sensitivity towards others' feelings, needs and wants is essential to help our responses.
A very simple example of insensitivity helps drive home the point. We have all, at one time or another dealt with someone who makes plans to be with us and then cancels to do something else. On occasion this can happen and it can be appropriate. But if it is a pattern, we can recognize it as the other person being insensitive. It is insensitive to how a person would feel having been poorly treated.
So, can we take a lesson from the body's physiological senses? The senses are there, physiologically, to allow us to take in the world; they are there to help us realize our essential needs for life (life's essentials), liberty and happiness. Our senses are our first connection to our feelings, and they are our primary connection to our outer world. However, the tendency is to recognize our senses mostly for smelling, hearing, tasting, touching, and seeing, not for experiencing the positive energy, and for bringing the positive energy into our relationships and interactions. Our feelings, when we use our senses well can improve.
More aligned, we sense guided by caring.
Physiologically, our heart and brain are connected to our senses to give life meaning. Behaviorally, we can connect our care - what we care about - and align that with where we put our brain (or thought, and thoughtfulness) and our senses.
Aligned in this way, we sense what the needs of humanity and the value of other individuals. As Hellen Keller said, "It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision." When we behave as if our behavioral sensitivity is at least as important as our physical capability to see and hear, physiologically, we bring a powerful part to our relationship. When our organizations and society treats its social sensitivity as a paramount part of its overall health and alignment, they bring a powerful part to the societal structure.
Doing this, it makes it much easier to discover the greater purpose that life has to share with us, what our longs for, and what it needs. Our care and sensitivity guide us to make decisions that foster understanding and connection.
Meaningfulness and the Muscles,
Moving for Wholeness
If you've read to this point, or if you have jumped to this section, and you're wondering what the value of this discovery is, if you're wondering what this discovery is, this section should be helpful.
Have you ever contemplated what it means to live a meaningful life? Certainly, a lot of philosophers have explored this question. Philosophy is essentially by definition a study of the meaning of life, at least in large part.
"The original meaning of the word philosophy comes from the Greek roots philo- meaning "love" and -sophos, or "wisdom." When someone studies philosophy they want to understand how and why people do certain things and how to live a good life. In other words, they want to know the meaning of life."
Put aside the fact that philosophers are interested in this question. You too may have at times in your life asked yourself what the meaning of life is. And you may have asked it in different ways. Asking what career you want to pursue is an example of a question as to what you find meaningful. Choosing which activities to engage in on any given day is also a question as to what you find meaningful to do or who you find meaningful to engage with.
Naturally, what we care about, meaning, what we want to give our time, attention, affection and other resources is a guide to what we find meaningful. However, we may not give a lot of thought to what we do. We may sometimes, and other times not. If we run on autopilot, going from place to place without much thought as to whether what we're doing is meaningful, we should not be surprised if we wind up not feeling like our life is especially meaningful.
We must, to live meaningfully, connect our movement to our thought and thoughtful consideration about what it means to be meaningful. That is, we must be thoughtful about where we go and what moves we make.
To make it simpler to understand how we can live meaningfully, we can consider the concept of movement. Think of meaningfulness as creating movement. If we read a moving poem or story, or if we hear a song that moves us, we can say that it does so because we find it meaningful.
Now, this is going to relate to the muscles and how they work; we can develop meaningfulness in our lives in a similar way that we develop muscles. But first we have to step back and explain a little more about meaning and meaningfulness.
Think of the word meaning. If a word has meaning it is better for understanding. We understand words when we know what they mean. This is a simple way to begin to think about what is meaningful and what is not meaningful. At the pinnacle, we want things to move us, but at the minimum, we want to understand things. Meaningful things are those things which are at the higher state. Things with meaning are at least at the lower state.
Meaningless Meaning Meaningfulness
Things which are meaningless are at the very lowest state. The idea is we want, if we're going to develop meaningful lives to engage in meaningful activities.
Again, to know what is meaningful, we can look at the issue of movement: are we moved by what we're engaged in, meaning emotionally. Are we moved by what we are doing. Are we moved by what others are doing? Are we uniting with those who move us and whom we move. It seems a very simple way to understand meaningfulness, yet, it is very helpful. Are we moved positively, meaning it uplifts our lives and uplifts others lives, that which we're engaged in.
I have had in my life relationships which frankly moved very little. I've also had relationships which were quite uplifting and constructive and moved people quite positively. Those relationships which moved positively are the ones which were, and have been, the most lasting and most meaningful. They are the ones which have contributed quite a lot to lives and the world.
How did the positive relationships come about? In part they came about by putting meaningful endeavor in the forefront. Much as muscles create movement by working against resistance, creating movement in people's lives comes about by working against resistance. Through repetitive efforts to minimize time spent on meaningless endeavors, by avoiding distractions and time spent mindlessly surfing the net or watching sports and entertainment, one develops meaningful contributions for society.
Can we learn to be more meaningfully with one another from the example of the body's muscles?
We might not naturally think that there is a similarity between how we might live more meaningfully and how our muscles work; there certainly is not a conventional understanding of how muscles work and of how developing meaning works, nor even a conventional relationship between the two concepts the way that there is with the heart and love. Love is often depicted as a heart. Meaningfulness is not generally depicted as a muscle. Yet, despite the lack of a conventional depiction in that manner, there is a rather interesting and obvious overlap between muscles and meaning, as we've been explaining.
Both move and strengthen us. Both move and strengthen others. Muscles, of course, use strength to move physical objects. Meaning has the potential to move and strengthen souls or lives. Meaningfulness has the potential to move and strengthen our lives and others' lives for more deep and lasting happiness. When we think of life as meaningful, we think of it as well-lived. We think of it as one which touches lives.We can develop more meaningful actions and lives by developing our ability to be meaningful, and we can do that, again, similar to the way we develop muscles.
We develop our muscles, we know through repetition, stretching, and exercise. Similarly, we can improve our ability to act meaningfully by repetitive stretching and exercise - through practicing those activities that add lasting value to one another.
Think of how we develop meaning in our writing. We do it with practice, over and over. The same is true of artistic expression. The same is true of any craft or trade. Our work becomes more meaningful and valuable as we repeat, and stretch ourselves to perform better.
Meaning is at the root of meaningfulness. We know how we learn the meaning of words or the meaning of sentences - we learn by practice, reading and writing, reading and rereading, writing and rewriting. Similarly, we develop our ability to live meaningfully, by working repetitively, developing our ability to contribute to the lives of others, each time stretching our ability to act meaningfully.
The repetition in the last few paragraphs of what was said earlier should have helped you to see the meaning in what was being conveyed. The first time you read it, it may have caught your attention, but by the third or fourth time you read it as it was presented in slightly different ways, it may have created a lasting and memorable impression: You may forever think of meaningful behavior as that which involves movement, and as that which operates in a way that is similar to muscles, in that they both create movement, they both involve working against resistance and they both involve engaging in repetitive effort to develop powerful and even positive emotional movement.
Now, one final point I'd add here. I began this morning writing this section, and then during lunch continued editing, and now at 7:34 p.m. I'm finishing this section. On the way home, I heard this song, Life is wonderful. It connects the value of life and life's essentials with meaning.
Life Is Wonderful
It takes a crane to build a crane
It takes two floors to make a story
It takes an egg to make a hen
It takes a hen to make an egg
There is no end to what I'm saying
It takes a thought to make a word
And it takes some words to make an action
It takes some work to make it work
It takes some good to make it hurt
It takes some bad for satisfaction
La la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la life goes full circle
Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la
It takes a night to make it dawn
And it takes a day to make you yawn, brother
And it takes some old to make you young
It takes some cold to know the sun
It takes the one to have the other
And it takes no time to fall in love
But it takes you years to know what love is
And it takes some fears to make you trust
It takes those tears to make it rust
It takes some dust to have it polished
Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la life goes full circle
Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la
It takes some silence to make sound
And it takes some loss before you found me
And it takes a road to go nowhere
It takes a toll to make you care
It takes a hole to make a mountain
Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la life goes full circle
Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la la life is meaningful
Ah la la la la la la life is wonderful
Ah la la la la la
It is so wonderful
It is so meaningful
It is so wonderful
It is meaningful
It is wonderful
It is meaningful
It goes full circle
Songwriters: Jason Thomas Mraz
The song makes some nice points about the contrasts and the flows that create meaning and ultimately meaningfulness. For me, it was meaningful that the song caught my attention, and I was led to listen to it, for the first time, a song I had never heard before, and it ended with references to meaningfulness, a fitting way to end a day which began with this topic.
Now, if there is a muscle-like part to a whole relationship, is there a muscle like part to a whole, ordered, organized society? What acts like the muscles of society? Some say that the markets are like the engine of society. When we think of an engine, and the size of an engine, another concept comes to mind, that of a muscle car. Horsepower is another term. Again, it refers to the concept of strength. We, generally, refer to markets in terms of strength: weak markets, strong markets, for example. Markets can be said to function like muscles, in that they share the common denominator of moving.
What we're suggesting is that markets move products and services and in that way they act like muscles which move things. Further, markets move things by people working against resistance, much as the muscles work against resistance. Meaningful, to be contrasted to meaningless markets are those that move products and services that are meaningful. If we want a more successful marketplace, we need to move more meaningful products and services.
Empathy and the Limbic System,
Energizing for Wholeness
There are so many assertions out there that empathy is an essential trait for life, and a life well-lived. We, too, have found, from this approach, that empathy is one of the essential parts to harmonizing. Empathy acts like a part of the body. It functions to energize, and the part of the body that relates, or functions, to energize the human is the emotions, or the emotional seat, the limbic system.
Dr. Alan Watkins refers to the emotions as energy in motion.
You'll notice he refers to levels, a concept which is similar in some ways to the overall approach we're referring to here. Instead of levels, we're suggesting that the better metaphor is one which refers to parts not levels. However, he does make the point that there are several different categories influencing our overall actions. And with respect to emotions, he explains that emotion, again, is energy in motion.
One of the most positive emotions is empathy. It is that ability in us to experience the emotions of another. In relating to another, we can help another feel better. The connection between emotions and empathy is described succinctly by Greater Good magazine, which describes itself and its mission as: science based insights for a meaningful life"
"What is Empathy?
The term “empathy” is used to describe a wide range of experiences. Emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.
Contemporary researchers often differentiate between two types of empathy: “Affective empathy” refers to the sensations and feelings we get in response to others’ emotions; this can include mirroring what that person is feeling, or just feeling stressed when we detect another’s fear or anxiety. “Cognitive empathy,” sometimes called “perspective taking,” refers to our ability to identify and understand other people’s emotions."
Empathy is a behavior that functions, or acts, like the limbic system which energizes us, as it creates emotion.
This leads to the question: Can we learn to be more empathetic from the example of the body's emotions?
Often we see how our emotions energize us. Angry or happy, we act more energetically than when we are apathetic or unfeeling. What we may not realize is that empathy actually energizes us and others more effectively than anger and more lovingly than desire. When we act on emotions to fulfill our wants and desires, we often end up chasing things or interactions rather than creating goodwill and deep meaningful connection. If we create goodwill we experience a much greater fulfillment feeling than we do if we create disappointment, for example, in ourselves or in others.
Empathy is recognizing in others how we would feel. It's recognizing the emotions of another and guiding our own emotions to feel more deeply for another. It leads us to act in ways that show our care. It leads us to consider actions that lead to good feelings and lasting value, the kind of fulfillment that comes only from love and loving one another. It leads us to make a decision that we might not otherwise make, a decision that cares about how another would feel about the decision.
Empathy can also uplift and energize ourselves. For example, often when we are sad or down what we find is that if we turn our attention to how others are suffering or in pain, and direct our care and actions to their challenges, we can begin to gain perspective on our own challenges. We realize we are not alone. We are more alike than not, and from that, we begin to heal. We begin to act in ways that aim to heal others and in so doing heal ourselves.
This is a powerful transformative energy.
From a societal standpoint, there is a related societal part, necessary for harmonizing - it is redundant to this concept of empathy, but can be stated as a slightly different concept: environmental empathy. By environment, this means including humans, or people. Empathy toward the environment includes as we mean the term empathy for people, all aspects of nature. Environmental empathy we can say is energizing for a society. It is constructive, rather than destructive - and so by definition it is creative and so energizing.
Life's Essentials and the Cell,
Assimilating and Adapting for Wholeness
One of the hardest parts of understanding this model for harmony in nature is understanding how the values of life, liberty, happiness and equality fit in the model. Does valuing our life's essentials act like a part of the body? Is valuing life's essentials a behavior? The answer to both those questions is yes. Valuing life's essentials is a behavior and it functions like the cell in the body. The body's cell assimilates all the essentials needed for life. Similarly, when we value life's essentials, we assimilate all of the essentials needed for life.
We typically think of life's essentials as food, water, and shelter. We call them essential because we need them as much as we need the air to breathe.
We don't typically think of life's essentials in terms of the cell in our body. But, it is useful to consider how we, as individuals, are like the cell and need to behave like a healthy cell in order to live fully and well.
The healthy cell, naturally, has all it needs to survive and grow. When it works together with billions of the other cells in the body, the overall body grows, and the cell lives out its life. But, cells can get in the way of the body. Cancer is too much of a good thing; it's healthy cells growing and growing without making room for other cells. This is the case for humans when we accumulate unnecessary things, material things beyond that which is essential; when we seek to have far beyond our needs, engaging excessively in want-seeking and want-fulfilling, we create inequities in the world; taking an unfair share as a child is a simple example; recognizing how that may occur as adults can be harder to see. Words like greed are used to describe the behavior of some. A show called The Filthy Rich, shows how lavishly some live. I remember seeing a portion of one episode where they showed a truffle that was priced at above $50,000. I see online that there is a truffle priced at over $150,000.
There are so many directions I can go with this discussion. They say there is a two-tier economy. An economy for the very wealthy, a relatively small percentage of people, and an economy for those who have far less, many who don't have enough saved to even be able to handle a $400 unexpected expense, a vast majority of people.
Taking a lesson from the body, we needn't favor a culture that promotes excessive pursuits, potentially, and likely at the expense of the many. The body, the healthy body, ensures that all cells and all parts of the body have their essential needs met. Note, there are some who say that our system is moving to a place where within a decade to a couple of decades that will be the reality for the world - all will have their life's essential needs met. If that is achieved that would be a major milestone and a significant achievement for humanity. However, the body doesn't "say" to the heart, you'll get what you need to survive in a couple of decades. Today, millions of people a year die from malnutrition and starvation. Those individuals will not be around in a decade. So, who is to blame? Well, rather than pointing the finger at individuals or classes of people, we can point the finger at a way of thinking and a belief system.
Currently, the m.o., the modus operandi, the guiding principle is survival of the fittest, and thrival of the fittest. It is the idea that we should seek to get rich, or we should seek to be fabulously rich. We should then have those who are fabulously rich decide how to spend their money. If Jeff Bezos wants to build spaceships to go to Mars that's his right. Or, if billionaires want to build their bunkers in case of a doomsday scenario, that's their right.
No heightened need to stop the calamity or catastrophe if you can retreat to a bunker in New Zealand.
Think about this in terms of the development of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The idea of the Declaration, which stated that all have the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, was that we were right in moving away from the Divine Right of Kings, or might makes right to a notion of right makes right. When, above, in the section on responsiveness, and responsive rights, we referred to the importance of rights, and being responsive to rights, we suggested that the rights to life, liberty, happiness and equality were the rights that we need to be responsive to. This is the idea of moving to a world where right makes right rules. Well, if you have people who are fabulously wealthy deciding how to spend their wealth, wealth they made from a series of behavioral decisions by masses of consumer actions, you really have a might makes right, financial might makes right type of rule. To understand this, think about the fact that, as I heard on the radio this morning, sanctions against Iran are causing many to go without food and life's essentials. Countries and leaders know how to turn on and off the flow, the spigot to influence behavior. Do we want to ensure that there are two vastly different economies? One for those with a lot of disposable income and one for those with very little. It seems that the system, as it is structured now believes this is the way you bring about progress.
When I got home this evening, January 2, 2020, we looked at these drones - making light shows in the sky.
Here are some of the not so positive comments.
It's not like we have total clarity on what is being done with these and by whom.
The system is set up so that a lot of things can be done without people's buy in or permission. All while many go without their life's essential needs met.
The body represents the nature of love and the golden rule. We would not want one of our cells in our body to go without its essentials. Similarly, we ought to want that all of life's cells - all beings - have their needs met. Yet, to do this we have to begin to look at how to change the flow. Does this mean, for example, putting a cap on the maximum amount of earnings the top earner can make relative to the average level worker? These are the types of things that a society that cares about, is thoughtful about, is responsive to, and sensitive about the values of life and life's essentials begins to consider and structure its flows of money to address.
Liberty and the Lungs,
Voicing and Venting for Wholeness
The relation between liberty and the air we breathe is intuitively recognized in a way similar to that of love and the heart. Much as we hear the word heart used with the word love, we will often hear, or read, the terms breathing, air and freedom used together. We might have seen the phrase "breathe the air of freedom." We know intuitively why the comparison is made. There is no charge to breathe air (yet). It is free. And we are free to breathe air. Freedom also has the vastness and unlimited, boundlessness that we see as a quality of air. "To be free as the air," or "as free as air"is an idiom that captures the point.
Yet, there is a more scientific comparison that can be made, and that is between liberty and the lungs. The lungs, of course, serve to allow us to speak and to breathe. In this sense, the lungs function to voice and vent. Voicing, venting, these, of course, are closely associated with freedom: the freedom of speech and the freedom to assemble, or to move and go where we want, along with the freedom to have bodily integrity, meaning to be free from being violated physically (and in other ways).
Notably, the lungs and the heart are closely related. The lungs oxygenate the blood. Liberty provides a similar role for love. It provides a range of action for love to grow. To be loving, we must freely love. To do what we love, we must be free to do what we love.
Without the freedom to be, to be who we are meant to be, it is as if we do not have air, that's how important we regard freedom.
But freedom involves a two-way flow, from ourselves to others and from others to us. Only through a commitment to equal freedom, mutual freedom, and reciprocal freedom do we create the room we each need to grow and breathe. Milton Friedman, a conservative, once said that he believed in a free society because he thought it led to efficiency and prosperity, but that he hoped that he would oppose a slave society even if it were less efficient. Though our society values freedom (whether it affords the most efficiency or not) it nevertheless does not always succeed in providing freedom well.
Freedom itself is a goal. But it is not one that we have fully realized. As an example, are people in our society truly free to pursue jobs and occupations that they find fulfilling? In a 2017 Commencement address to Harvard, Mark Zuckerberg talked about the challenge of the 21st century as being to create meaningful work for people. He explains the purpose of his talk: "Today I want to talk about three ways to create a world where everyone has a sense of purpose: by taking on big meaningful projects together, by redefining equality so everyone has the freedom to pursue purpose, and by building community across the world." He clearly connects the idea of freedom with meaning and purpose. And he explains that this freedom, which necessitates that people have the opportunity to pursue purpose, is something that all must have equally. He goes on to say:
"First, let’s take on big meaningful projects.
Our generation will have to deal with tens of millions of jobs replaced by automation like self-driving cars and trucks. But we have the potential to do so much more together.
Every generation has its defining works. More than 300,000 people worked to put a man on the moon—including that janitor. Millions of volunteers immunized children around the world against polio. Millions of more people built the Hoover Dam and other great projects.
These projects didn’t just provide purpose for the people doing those jobs, they gave our whole country a sense of pride that we could do great things.
Now it’s our turn to do great things. I know, you’re probably thinking: I don’t know how to build a dam, or get a million people involved in anything.
But let me tell you a secret: No one does when they begin. Ideas don’t come out fully formed. They only become clear as you work on them. You just have to get started."
He explains this in the context of the bigger point: "The challenge for our generation is creating a world where everyone has a sense of purpose." He notes, "We should have a society that measures progress not just by economic metrics like GDP, but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful."
What is clear from his talk is that he considers the effort to pursue being meaningful as being intertwined with the issue of freedom and liberty. We could have made mention of Zuckerberg's emphasis on the importance of meaningfulness above in the section on meaningfulness. However, we chose to include it here for the following reason. Consider this about the relationship between living meaningfully and freedom - is there really much of a difference between the relationship between living individualizingly and freedom? Often, individualism is a concept referred to as reflective of freedom. Expressing one's individuality is made possible by freedom. Similarly, expressing one's empathy for others often requires freedom. For example, laws have been created to allow more empathy for loved ones. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows individuals to take time off to care for a loved one.
Yet, there are a lot of areas where the laws and the economic structure have not been especially empathetic. Consider employees who, not wanting to, have to go back to work in order to survive, shortly after having a baby. Cathy, in the school system, recently encountered one woman who had gone back to work, and when she was asked how she felt, she responded, "I cried all day, yesterday." So, how do we get to a place where even the meaningful pursuit of staying home and rearing a child is possible for those who would chose to do so - how do we bring about that freedom of choice?
Well, the suggestion has been throughout that in order to create solutions - what we can call second order solutions, we need to embrace first order principles, first order principles that are pertinent to harmonizing. The creation of a loving law, like the FMLA is a second order principle. It is a principle that says that individuals should be able to care for loved ones (for a period of time) and not lose their jobs because of it. The first order principles, such as we've been explaining throughout, are valuing freedom and valuing life's essentials and recognizing that behaviors such as being loving, being thoughtful and so on are essential parts to harmonizing and being whole.
In other words, we have to start defining what is loving, what is thoughtful, what is meaningful and so on in terms of the ideals of life, liberty, happiness and equality. If valuing life, we act like a cell, in that we assimilate all the needs for life for each cell, if valuing liberty we act like the lungs, in that we allow the individual the freedom to vent and voice and assemble, it suggests that these too are parts to harmonizing.
What will happen if we embrace objective and universal first order principles is that we'll create better second order principles, and second order loving laws, and customs, and norms. It's like learning grammar - you learn the grammatical parts of a language and you can use those parts in a myriad of ways. Similarly, the parts to the body function together, each serving functions, to allow for a wide range of activity. When we know to be loving, function like a healthy heart, to be thoughtful, functioning like a healthy brain and so on, we begin to change the products and services we make and we begin to change the products and services we consume, to a greater extent.
Today, individuals and organizations are making innumerous decisions to behave more environmentally empathetic. Yet, at the same time, they're making innumerous decisions based on first order principles that are not harmonizing. The first order principle of the survival of the fittest is not necessarily a harmonious principle - it is not modeled after a system, a harmonious system like the body, a majestically harmonious system like the body, it is modeled after the law of the jungle. Again, that is the law of might makes right. Certainly, physical might has been supplanted to some extent by intellectual might - wherein there is a greater rule by intelligent forces than by physical forces than days of old.
I was sitting at the cafe earlier today and there was a young student, interviewing for college. She was meeting with someone from Yale who was interviewing her but also explaining the features of the school, Yale. She did not get into Harvard for early admission but had gotten deferred. She was a high school student who was the president of her class (more than one year), played three sports, worked for her family business, worked at a restaurant, and was in AP courses, and in the top ten of her class. It was quite something to hear her exuberance and achievements. When I got in the car, I heard Fareed Zakaria introducing a show in which he was going to offer his view and address the question as to whether it was better, in terms of becoming successful in business, to focus one's attention on one area or be a generalist. What I thought about with regards to this student is that it is entirely possible that she will continue to build that stellar resume, and even perhaps develop some specialty - or be a generalist - and go on to contribute in some significant way. It's also entirely possible that she will be part of promoting and fostering the continuation of a system that rewards this type of ideal set that says that one must excel through competition in a host of activities that the system says matter.
To help drive home the potential downside of that approach, let's suppose the following. Imagine that an attorney, but not an attorney that got their law degree from Yale or Harvard, had made a discovery of a major scientific breakthrough, but that that lawyer did not have the necessary connections to share that discovery with the world. And imagine that that lawyer developed and wrote about that discovery with another individual, who also had an advanced degree, a masters in elementary education, but also not from Yale or Harvard, or other IVY league school. And the two wrote more than twenty books on the subject. Now, the discovery they made stemmed, in part, from the work of a person who studied at Harvard and who ultimately became a professor (and dean) at Yale. But these two individuals did not have the connections (yet) or the clout (yet) to receive an audience. What would happen? Imagine that there is an amazing law of nature at work that shows how we can harmonize, but the society is not able to understand it. It's a little like a Horton Hears a Who situation. (You can see our medium article on that topic: A New Discovery and Horton Hears a Who).
Well, this morning, we sent an email to Tim Leberecht. I had come across Tim's name one time watching a documentary.
"Why you should listen
In his book The Business Romantic: Give Everything, Quantify Nothing, and Create Something Greater Than Yourself, Tim Leberecht invites us to rediscover romance, beauty and serendipity by designing products, experiences, and organizations that 'make us fall back in love with our work and our life.' The book inspired the creation of the Business Romantic Society, a global collective of artists, developers, designers and researchers who share the mission of bringing beauty to business. Now running strategy consulting firm Leberecht & Partners, he was previously the chief marketing officer at NBBJ, a global design and architecture firm, and at Frog Design. He also co-founded the '15 Toasts' dinner series that creates safe spaces for people to have conversations on difficult topics.
What others say
'Tim reminds us of the critical importance of reconnecting our economies with our emotional and spiritual needs. He encourages us in a playful yet reflective way to find beauty and meaning in our work lives and shows us how small, everyday actions can help us build a more humane economy.' — Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum"
He has a couple of TED Talks. One is titled 4 ways to build a human company in the age of machines. He opens it with the following:
"Half of the human workforce is expected to be replaced by software and robots in the next 20 years. And many corporate leaders welcome that as a chance to increase profits. Machines are more efficient; humans are complicated and difficult to manage.
Well, I want our organizations to remain human. In fact, I want them to become beautiful. Because as machines take our jobs and do them more efficiently, soon the only work left for us humans will be the kind of work that must be done beautifully rather than efficiently."
Now, you would think that someone such as he, with interests in such topics, would be interested in the assertion that there are parts to harmonizing. I believed I reached out to him on LinkedIn once, but did not receive much interest. We did connect on LinkedIn, so I imagine I would have included some comment. I don't have record of it. In any event, last night I did this post in reply to a post by an organization or initiative affiliated with him.
This post caught my attention. Tim Leberecht is a co-founder of House of Beautiful Business.
So, this was my post response.
So, this was and is an attempt to get a response.
We followed that up with an email.
Now, you might wonder, why do we tell our story? Why do we include in our explanation of a discovery of a scientific law our story in trying to get this message out to the world?
There are several important reasons. One, there seems to be a general consensus that it would be nice if people could work in jobs or ways that they find meaningful. And there seems to be a general consensus that it would be nice if people had the freedom to live purposefully. There is even the belief among many that if you follow your passions, you will succeed, you will make enough money to live and survive.
Well, the message of the body is that something else is required - a systems change is required. The message of our example, our case, and the message of the body is that for people to afford their life's essentials and to work at their passions full-time the system has to get the money to flow better to those people who are working at their passions. We could make this point with some speculative assertions: we could say "you can pursue your passions and you'll be fine" and then point to some anecdotal evidence. Yet, we ourselves are a real life case study. We can say that the system does not allow the freedom for two people to pursue their passions for the good of others, even when they've developed a product and service that is worthy. How do I know it is worthy? Well, as an example, Cathy recently read one of our children's books to classrooms of 3, 4, and 5 year olds. Do you know what it takes to keep the attention of a classroom full of children? And to have them engaged and happy, during and after a book has been read to them? It's not the kind of thing they can fake - the kids are too young. They're either into it or they're not. And you can tell, as an adult whether the kids like the book or they don't. Even if only one of our books out of all seventy (self-published so far - adults and children's books) is engaging, we still should have been able to get one published by a mainstream publisher. And we have not yet. And believe me, it's not only one book that captivates and engages the children. And as for the books for adults, we've also had people read them and give us very positive feedback. Could the books be improved by a mainstream publisher? Sure. But that's not the point. No author who has been published by a mainstream publisher has not also had their books edited - that's what mainstream publishers do. As further evidence that the books are good, at least, and worthy of being published: over the years, I have had my detractors, people who have criticized me for this or that. Some family for example. One thing I've never had anyone say, including these detractors is that "these books...your writing is not good." I'm not just talking about people being polite. I've had people who were exasperated with me and my interest in writing, and my efforts - and with the costs of writing - and I've heard some pretty tough comments made about me at times, but even those people did not say, "and you're writing is no good." Again, these were people looking to bash me, or bashing me, in one way or another. It's an odd way to make a point, but it's perhaps helps to make the point. The writing is worthy of a mainstream publisher. And yet in this marketplace we have yet to have the money flow from a mainstream publisher to us and our work. That says something about the system's ability to support freedom. It is a real life case study.
And put aside whether the writing is good enough. The discovery alone, the novelty alone, of what we write about, that alone should engender interest. What is it about this society that you can share an idea, a concept like this with hundreds, probably over a thousand people and still to this very day not get a mainstream publisher to support it?
Well, what we're suggesting is that to achieve a more harmonious society we need to get the resources of society to flow to allow people who are trying to do great things to be able to do them. We're one example. I'd use other examples if I had them. I have our own. So I use it.
Now, this write-up is for our website, ucanbeheroes.com/a-discovery and also in the book called youcandoit.love.
For the book youcandoit.love, the point to emphasize is that you can do it. You may not be able to financially do it to the fullest extent but you can do it at least to some extent. Certainly, Cathy and I have been able to do quite a bit. The it is love, and create a loving product and service. We have used the freedom we have, at least some part of it to create a loving product and service.
Happiness and the Enzyme,
Catalyzing for Wholeness
Continuing from the last section, we have used the freedom we have, at least some part of it, to create a loving product and service. And in the process, we have created more happiness in our lives and in the lives of others because of it.
The happiness has been balanced with three other concepts, again the values of life, liberty and equality. Decisions we've made, and actions we've taken, attempt to balance our happiness aims with our life's essential aims, liberty aims and equality aims. That is, we've made decisions that aim to bring about a balance of each of these four. We may give up some short-term pleasure (or short-term happiness) to instead have more freedom, as one example of how we strive to balance these four objectives. We may choose to give up some mindless entertainment and in its place work on writing or illustrating a book, giving up a short-term pleasure because we value the freedom and benefits of creating something that contributes more meaningfully. Certainly, the work we do is pleasurable to engage in, often, but that does not mean there are not times when it is work. Uploading a pdf to CreateSpace, or KDP, over and over again because their tool doesn't work properly, or reading and re-reading a writing, these can feel like work.
The song plays overhead in the cafe, as I'm typing: "Please read the letter that I wrote," January 8, 2020, 8:47 a.m. ("Please read the letter," the barista sings loudly, after I typed that), reminding me of another aspect of what we've done that is work: We've sent letters (book sized letters we wrote) to Howard Schultz and Starbucks management, with the hope of bringing the books we've written to the cafe. The number of times we've written to individuals who have distribution capabilities in an effort to succeed, that's work - and not particularly a pleasurable part of the work.
So, those are examples of where we balance our happiness needs with our liberty needs, accepting a little less happiness in exchange for a little more freedom. That's only one example to illustrate the idea of balancing, or working to meet each of these four categorical needs.
Think of this balancing by the following visual.
The center area reflects the fulfillment of each of the four needs.
Now, contrast that with this notion of needs, depicted by Maslow.
Maslow's depiction suggests that you work your way up to satisfying higher level needs, as you go through life, over time.
By contrast, what the model of the human body suggests is that we need to satisfy categorical needs as we go. In every interaction, in our life choices we need to balance these four needs. We need to balance them for ourselves and for others.
Much as we balance our own needs for each of these needs, we make decisions to balance our own needs for life, liberty and happiness with the needs of others for life, liberty and happiness - that's part of meeting the equality need. We not only strive for the needs of life, liberty and happiness for ourselves, we strive for them for others as well. We may give up some short-term pleasure (or happiness) to give another more freedom. In fact, that is partly why we work to write these books: we're trying to create a world where others are more free. The happiness we've added to our own lives is in balance with the life (and life's essentials), liberty, and equality we've added to our lives and in balance with the happiness, life, liberty and equality we're aiming to add to others' lives. In other words, we reduce some of our effort to fulfill more and more material wants in favor of making efforts to give.
This idea of how to value happiness, as one among other values (life, liberty and equality) is derived in part from the fact that valuing happiness in such a way is acting like a part of the healthy body.
We can think about the effort to create happiness as being similar in function to what the enzymes do. They catalyze. And they catalyze by not being used up in the reaction they create.
Apart from how well or poorly we've done, the point is that happiness is only one of four goals, or values. Much as life's essentials serve a purpose, a valuable one to be sure, and much as liberty serves a purpose, a valuable one, happiness also serves a purpose. It acts as an enzyme to catalyze constructive relationships and interactions.
Enzymes are both in our body and the natural world, in all living things. They're naturally occurring "chemicals." They're in food, they're in plants, and they're in the make-up of our body. They are proteins that speed up processes.
So too, happiness, when performing or functioning as a healthy catalyst, creates constructive reactions. It spurs creativity. It engenders good feelings and emotional energy to motivate and move things forward.
If you’re having trouble recognizing the functional common denominator of catalyzing, it could be because you resist the idea of seeing happiness as a constructive creative agent. Perhaps, you see it as something you get. It is something you create and in the process of creating it, you receive the benefits.