Sunday, April 03, 2005

Model railroading, part 2

Economics, as it is tought these days, attempts to model the behavior of consumers, their confidence, their misery etc, in its construction of the larger models of whole economies. You can get a Nobel prize if you can figure how how it all works. The lesson for those not pursuing a PhD in the dismal science is that all those smart folks just accept that the whole only functions because its tiniest parts function, the macro can only arise from the micro.

But long before those insights were cast in equations, we all had an economics lesson in a proverbial form: "Bad money drives out good". What we need to see is that little truism held because a wider one is with few exceptions:

Selfish behaviour drives out altruism and casts harsh light on our inherently total mutuality so that its negative side is seen and its positve obliterated in shadow.

You can probably think of an example you have seen: the most selfish examples that people get away with set the standard. Ken Lay or Bernie Ebbers surely didn't think they were inventing fraud but rather just doing a better job of it than any number of predecesors who will never see jails or judges. So, this is the force that sets our individual models of how the world works and how we shall survive onto rails, destined for some genteel form of "dog eat dog". Don't you wonder at the relief you feel, the way you are so heartened by the rare example of selflessness that your eyes moisten and for a moment you have no misgivings for our species? We are too adaptable by nature: we are capable of believing anything from "I am just one more wolf like all ther others" to "We're all in this together and I hurt noone without hurting myself". Which model we hold depends on experience more than on teachings. And the commonly held model gives rise to the most common experience.


cul said...

What exercises would you suggest might best derail the negative feedback loop you seem to be describing? ie, what can we do about such a process?

GreenSmile said...

I never thought about the solution much. I suppose the problem is as complicated as it is important and all I got is a murky glimpse of it...its huge like a Tolstoy novel and its about all of us all at the same time and ....yet, its still not hopeless.

Your question may not have an answer but we could make humans that don't NEED that most of us except the saints have got the disease and its too late but immunity aquired at a young age is still possible. [and yeah it sounds wierd from my mouth, but I said, and say, "saint"...I see no god of any consequence and those appointing themselves as his mouthpiece are deluded (sometimes that can turn out well!) or deluding or both but the job of saint, well I think some people do it OK and I can't really get to the bottom of how they got free, even part-time, from the malicious cycle. Thats for another post]
Immunity: It should be taken as our most profound and least avoidable duty to resolutely love our children:
1 not to raise them with lessons of reprisal for wrong doings,
2 always to show them how we ourselves struggle with our selfish impulses
3 to take every opportunity to teach them, when they are hurt, how much of the hurt comes from their own expectation of others
4 for the outright wrongs of others, be they punished or profitiable, to diagram the upstream and downstream chain of failures to sense connection that attend these wrongs.
5 lead them to be alert but do not leave them hungry for praise, security or even companionship but rather whole and satisfied as what they are,who they are and where they are
6 have the presence of mind when conflict comes into their lives to show them how balance can be reached in the ever present contention between connection(4) and self sufficiency(5)

Its late.
I'll think about exercises some more
before I go gassing off with a bunch of happy talk real people can't live up to.