A response to the "Occupy Movement"

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Saturday, December 3, 2011

The piece below is from a friend, Don Allen, who had trouble with the "Comment" widget so I'm posting it for him. Bob Olofson


A digression on Bob’s thought-provoking piece on Fractal Economics:

Bob’s exposition of a roadmap to a different (maybe better) way of dealing with material goods in human society is very well thought out (as usual for Bob) and lots of fun to play with. But what really grabs my interest – and what I see to be the key to anything that might be done – are four critical notions that he sets forth in the first dozen paragraphs of his article.

The first three are sublimely interconnected and are the key to all effective social change.

  • There’s a perceived difference (Bob says "conflict") between our notions of individual and collective good;
  • The resolution of this difference necessarily happens within the individual – i.e., it can’t happen anywhere else than within the individual; and
  • In order to resolve this conflict, the individual must redefine (for oneself) such terms as "peace, prosperity, well-being and contentment."

The fourth critical notion – fractal theory – offers a useful metaphor for understanding the mechanics of human society (economics and everything else, as well).

I completely agree with Bob that when there’s a perceived difference between individual (personal) and collective (societal) well-being such difference can only be resolved within the individual perceiving the difference. For all practical purposes, the difference only exists – if it exists at all – in the individual’s perception of it.

Here it’s useful to pick up the fractal theory bit. Perhaps it makes sense to view individual humans as fractal segments. String a bunch of us together and you get society (or a society, or a corporation perhaps). And when you stand far enough back from the society you’ve gotten, its shape is pretty much the same as any of its fractal segment components, which are in turn pretty much indistinguishable from each other.

Okay, maybe it’s a bit of a stretch. Fractals seem to be concrete "things," and we’re talking about behavior. But consider the value of applying the fractal metaphor to the individual/society link-up. If the larger segment reflects the shape of the smaller segment, then maybe it’s useful to use this metaphor for thinking about behavior of the larger body. Does it make sense to say that the behavior of the larger body reflects the behavior of the individual components? That’s how it seems to me.

So, even though Bob’s outline of an action plan is well considered and elegantly presented, my attention is drawn more to the question of how individuals change themselves in order for society to manifest benefit for all. Said a bit differently, if we don’t like society’s behavior, the right place to look for change is in our own behavior.

Again (because it’s so important): there’s only one platform from which any individual has leverage to change society, and that’s within that individual. Change yourself and you change society. It’s that simple.

Check it out in the converse. Have you ever successfully changed another individual? Be honest. Really probe this notion. Where – in all the universe – do you have the power to change anyone?

Lest we despair, fearing our personal inadequacy and ineffectiveness, check this out too: how great is your power for change? If you really look at it, I think you’ll find that it’s enormous. It’s downright godlike. You have infinite power to change yourself. And what happens when you change yourself? Examine that through the lens of the fractal metaphor.

I like to remember a motto I once read in the Last Whole Earth Catalog: "We are as gods and might as well get good at it." Words to live by.

It’s a reasonably good bet that if you’re reading this you’ve been on your own personal quest for change for a long time now. Blessings on your journey. If you’re inclined to check some more stuff out, here are some links to resources that have been (and still are) really useful to me.

For an interesting insight into fractal theory at work in the market, scan the Wikipedia article on Fibonacci retracement.

For a sweet angle on the Occupy Movement, watch this video.

I’ve received inspiring and highly useful insights along my path from these folks:

The Passion Test can be a useful tool for effecting personal change.

And if you want to plug into lifelong support in an approach that’s guaranteed to change the way you live, check out Balanced View. Listen to the two talking heads on the home page. Then, if you’re still interested, listen to more of the teachers and download/read the free books. I can vouch for the efficacy of this outfit and their trainings. Wow!

Much love to all, --d.

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