Transition Understanding


Understanding is what we are going to need to overcome the greatest problems of Civilization.

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For many reasons, we live in a time of conflict, but one of the main reasons for disagreement is that because the world is changing, there are many different beliefs about what to do about it. It has been called the "Culture Wars" in the United States and in a broader sense it has been referred to as a "Clash of Civilizations". From my perspective, it is a conflict between those that differ on how to deal with the challenges we currently face, especially the ones caused by change. ... The changes are going to get bigger and harder to deal with. There will be more reason for disagreement and conflict.

The point of this page is to build an understanding between people that disagree.

I study survival. My entire writings are based on survival and the power of human survival instinct. My whole proposition can only work if human survival instinct is the most powerful of human instincts. Then again, in the Transition book, one of my main points is that the word we use for "human survival instinct" is Faith and I would suggest never underestimating its power. What I have found is that all these different positions seem to have a common basis to them. People are trying to survive. So to create an understanding, my idea here is to take different opinions and ideologies and show that what they are about is survival and have the same goal. It will serve a few purposes.

I always try to help people put into words what they are thinking. There are people with opinions I disagree with quite strongly, but it is easier to communicate with them if they can put their thoughts into words. I have great respect for people. They seem quite happy to tell you what they believe is important if they feel that you are listening and that they have the words to communicate, so I try to help them with the words. Also when people more clearly understand what is important to them and they can pout it into words, they are more able to apply reason to their thoughts. If I explain to one person what another is thinking, they can then reason about what the other person is saying, instead of just saying it is nonsense. That is the purpose of this page.

This page is barely started, but I did write down one of the conversations I spoke of, so I will include it here. I hope it gives you a thought.

Conservative Conversation

I was at the skating rink the other day for the kid's competition. I had a very interesting conversation. There was a gent there with his grand daughter. She was a very pretty 8 year old. She apparently went to a very good school. I found that she could speak Russian (he spoke it well) and was learning Mandarin. She was quite charming. He was a software developer in the medical administration field. He has been in software a long time and had spent time in Russia and Europe. He was an educated, intelligent, smart, cosmopolitan, experienced guy. He was also a burly meathead like me, looked like a barrel with a bucket on top. Our conversation covered a number of things as he did have a lot of experience. One topic was worth consideration.

The conversation covered many topics, but at one point he commented how absurd some overtly fundamentalist religious people seemed. They were obsessed with things of no importance and had beliefs that were obviously silly. I disagreed with his take.

Me: No, no, you have to understand where they are coming from.

Him: They're nuts, stupid or both.

Me: No they aren't. They are just doing the best they know.
Consider. You're conservative, right? (In this day, that can mean any number of things, some quite as ideologically irrational as a young earth creationist, which is considered one flavour of current conservatism. Non-fanatic conservatives frequently call themselves "Eisenhower Conservatives" to describe a highly rational, less ideological conservative view than is the current commonest flavour of conservatism. I assumed that was this guy's style, which he confirmed when I mentioned it. While conservative, people like him can be touchy about being lumped with extreme flavours of conservatism such as Libertarianism or Christian Fundamentalists.)

Him: He gave a guarded agreement.

Me: Why are you conservative?

Him: It's the right way to be.

Me: Why? The right way for what?

Him: It's the right way to do things.

Me: Why? What is right about it? What are you trying to accomplish by being conservative?

Him: ?

Me: You are trying to survive. That is what conservatism is all about. Using the methods to survive that have worked in the past. You do it because that is how you can survive and it is how she can survive.

Him: Yes.

Me: It's about survival. That is your deepest instinct and it is why you are conservative. It is also why religious people follow beliefs that often look absurd. They are using methods that worked for survival in the past. It is conservatism and it is all about survival and it makes sense in that way. You, what would be called a progressive or even a liberal compared to modern ideological conservative, but all are trying to survive by using a way that they think has worked in the past. The ideologists that seem to have the strangest beliefs sort of recognise that things have changed so they are looking for some pure form of conservatism that will work. Impure forms like Eisenhower conservatism or even Reagan conservatism that could compromise look like failures, because they failing, seemingly because they were not conservative enough. The problem is that the world is really changing and the ways that worked in the past, will no longer work. It is the conservatives that must be convinced of this, because they are the most dedicated to survival, that is why they are so devotedly conservative. It looks like the absolutely best way to survive. What they need is an understanding that things have changed and the old ways will fail to offer survival. They also need to be shown a new strategy of survival that is intellectually, emotionally and morally convincing. Then they will become just as devoted to that strategy of survival as they have been to the strategies that used to work in the past.

The conversation was long and fun and covered many topics. If we had been drinking, I think we could have managed to find solutions for all the problems in the world. The largest point is that you need to always consider the other person's point of view and understand that it usually involves survival. If you disagree with their opinion, bring the conversation to survival and work to honestly understand how their strategy serves or fails to serve survival in this changing time. Real change is never for the sake of change, it is for survival. The next largest point is that no matter what your current conservative ideology is, be aware, you are following your most powerful survival instincts at an emotional level and they may betray you just now. I am sorry, but what worked in the past will not work any more just now. The more extreme your point of view is, the more you are probably feeling threatened, but the threat is not by those with differing beliefs. The threat is coming from changes that cannot be stopped and that you really do not want to stop, because they are part of the human progress that is the only way that humans can survive into the future, let alone achieve our aspirations. Also, as time goes on, I better and better understand the idea that God does want us closer and the progress that humans have made since the Iron Age has been towards that. If that is not true, then accept that we are alone in the universe.