Upon finishing our reading on the rise and fall of the Easter Islanders I was reminded of a concept that has plagued me for some time now. I found the Islanders constant production of statutes for prestige and projection of power familiar. Progress is a word that is thrown around as if it in itself is good, however progress is a relative term. Progress references a present we know in the future we desire.
This can create a systemic form of thinking. These patterns of thought are not inherently evil but they are dangerous if left unchecked. The reason it must constantly be checked is that human beings are dynamic creatures. We can perceive abstract concepts but are also still a type of animal.
There are several schools of thought across the spectrum that fall under this banner of systemic thinking. While I cannot be certain it would make sense that this modality has existed throughout antiquity. So, I can only imagine the conversations and arguments had over the statutes constructed on Easter Island. Those who recognized the hubris of his people must have felt the same frustration that a Roman had seeing his army crushed by Hannibal or a British soldier as being sieged by the Americans at Yorktown. The thought of being invisible in your identity and reality asserting itself over your perception.
Systemic thinking is often materialistic. Meaning that it only concerns itself with what is objectively measurable. A way to tell this is that there is no delineation between fact and truth. While I cannot expect everyone to agree with me in my observations it is not a stretch to say that there are immeasurable things that are REAL.
Most of the wicked problems that I have seen revolve around issues of reality and perception. The problem seems simple enough: observe reality and then come to a conclusion. This works great for concrete realities. The problem takes on another form when dealing with abstract reality.
The immeasurability of the abstract is what makes it so hard to deal with. It simply is down to perception, but it is still objective and just as real. Our social constructs, whatever they may be, matter to us and our relationships. When a norm is subverted the victim of this subversion is left demoralized. Upon this demoralization self hate begins followed by hated for others which leading to crisis.
So, how does one avoid such subversion? This is what has made me sweat for months, but after reading about the Easter Islanders it hit me. Every action is a contract between you and reality. If you attempt to break the rules you will pay dearly. Be mindfull of your wants and desire otherwise reality may consume you.
This brings us back to progress and systemic thinking. Progress is nessary for our own survival, however progress without understanding of our relationship to reality is foolish. Systemic thinking can be a wonderful tool in the pursuit of a material goal, however the immaterial matters just as much. As they cut their trees down to erect their idols will we destroy our bonds to pursue some psychotic form of perfection? The answer lies in the hearts of men just as the line between good and evil does. We cannot and ought not change another person through for less we feel the teeth of reality. The only change that can be made is through individuals being virtuous show others the way.