viernes, 13 de febrero de 2015

Memetics

"Piled on", modern dance.
M e m e t i c s

Ideas replicate themselves and compete for survival.  Like animals ideas are evolutionary.  Only the fittest ideas survive.  However, fitness of ideas need not be a guide to truth, fitness is simply the ability to survive and reproduce.  Besides, fitness is contextual, if everybody in a group shares the same perspectives then their ideas will survive, in their midst, regardless.  In order to survive ideas need a context, a fertile and suitable context; or, as we would say in psychology, a compensating context.  Compensation is a strategy to hide, cover up or substitute for what we lack or not do well, by doing something else really well.  The end result is the bubble, the place inside which our ideas survive and reproduce by making sure out “best” overshadows our inabilities to survive otherwise.  Fitting becomes the exercise of spending time, emotions, goods, pleasure and profit with people similar to you in thinking and action.

The Bubble Effect
In a community there are all kinds of social animals, some very fit, some very unfit.  Lack of social fitness may be the result of ignorance, culture, language or attitudes.  When the social “unfit” get together they compensate, that is, they substitute their inability to fit with everybody with their ability to share experiences with a selected few.  They create a ghetto, the place where comfort, survival, reproduction, pleasure AND profit makes life livable in an unfamiliar or threatening space.

Do you live in a ghetto?
You may already know the answer, or you may consider some explorative statements:
1.        I only hang out with people I like.
2.       I only do what I came here to do (pleasure, business, or profit, or…)
3.       I create spaces where people like me come to be with me, and do things we all like.
4.       I do not truly understand contexts other than my own.
5.       All else outside my context is bad, or wrong, or unseemly.
6.       I do not want anything outside my bubble, or tolerate very little.
7.       I´m critical or hypercritical of everything else.
8.       Nothing moves me away from my reason for being here (pleasure, business, or profit)
9.       If someone or something endangers my reasons or purpose for being here they are wrong or are dangerous.
10.   I need my bubble to continue to exist as I want it to exist, otherwise I will go.

The Overview Effect
Astronauts report that when viewing earth from space, that giant ball of matter hanging from nowhere, all national borders vanish, all conflicts appear less important and a pressing need to find a common purpose becomes urgent.  Utopia?  Perhaps, but the answer is certainly not the bubble, that “fitting” place where some find comfort living separated from the rest.  Most likely we will never make it to outer space, but we could explore more of our immediate community in order to experience the psycho/social impact of our own geographically shared space, not as a passive, detached, or uninvolved participant, but in the fullness of citizenship.

The Challenge for Las Terrenas
Crises provoke many responses and two, in particular, are extremely powerful.  One is the urge to retrench, to go deeper into the bubble; the other is to seek out and connect.  Las Terrenas is at a provocative junction, a crossroads, caused for a variety of crises—political, economic, social and cultural—and people who are from here will stay the course as there may be no other options for them.  What´s extremely interesting to watch is what happens among people who are not from here and can escape the crises anytime they wish, or have a financial cushion that protects them, or have guachimanes (security guards) preserving them from the “real” world.  The most common observable phenomenon among them is one of retrenchment, going deeper into the bubble while seeing any crisis as threats to their very survival—pleasure, business, or profit.  They don´t pursue community necessarily, they simply want the status quo, nothing different from what they perceived was happening when they chose to come here.  They might be in need, however, of the “overview effect”, so that they could be in a privileged position to see this community the way astronauts see earth from outer space.  Such change of vision might allow them to change ther “immigrant” status from passive observers to full citizens in the experience of community.

Community
Your definition is as good as mine, but if you are in your own bubble you are not in community.  As simple as that.  All experts sustain the idea that being in community is not a passive experience, it is an active attitude and place, involving the wholeness of your being.  If you agree then the question is, are you involved?

Participation in a community cannot be prescriptive, no one can impose a behavior on you, but it needs to be the result of making one choice:  partaking.  Partaking or social empathy is answering the question “what do we owe one another as part of the same community?”  If you live in a bubble chances are you will answer by saying “I don´t owe anyone anything.”  If you have experienced the overview effect you might notice the urgency to do something about our common place of habitation, sharing in common struggles and pursuing the resolution to crises that endanger the community.  To partake you must become well-informed, not just from inside of you (your opinions and ideas), but also from the context driving the crises.  Then you might be in a position to make choices, better choices, those that will prevent you from just pursuing pleasure, business, or profit, or from seeing yourself strictly in opposition to the larger community that surrounds you. 

Las Terrenas is in crisis and it needs as many people willing to partake of its promising future by getting involved in local issues that concern everyone.  Living in a bubble is not a suitable option, community is. 

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