There have been more than a few things in life that have been described using an onion as a metaphor. So why not use it to look at a symptom of this living today that may not be recognized. As much as I love to break things down to their microscopic bits and pieces, I also enjoy taking a big leap out to the macro level. It feels like the opening screen of Google Earth, where you are just looking at the big blue circle asking yourself where and or what to check out next? Big onion, lots of different layers.
In school right now I am amazed at the fact that I am getting the lessons, that I have the wherewithal to comprehend. We are in rooms speaking of the same topics, doing the same problems together and it reminded me of something very basic to all of this world business. In mathematics we are asked to break things down in various ways and in doing so, the foundation of the problem is exposed . It came to me like a shoe hitting me squarely in the head, this is exactly what is happening at the micro and macro level of society and civilization too, the foundations are laid bare, the problems too great on either side to fill in the chasm.
Let’s start this a long time ago when we were going from Hunter-Gatherers to living together in various groups, tribes, and communities. When any group of people get together it is because of a thing called Traditionalism. It is the basis of everything from friendships and countries, groups and communities, to service organizations and politically driven ideologies. It can begin with the commonality of ceremonial burial, a central belief system, a common enemy or struggle. These things are the things that bound us and still do in this land without strings, it is simply a set of beliefs and some natural laws that keep us together. A set of actions and reactions, values and mores, respect and disrespect. That is truly the only thing that is keeping us together, it is not force, that part has been overcome as well in the past. As much as people like to believe that it is simply the military and police that keep us safe, the real reasons would probably be leaving many shaking their heads in doubt. We, as people are, in this continuously fractioning world, the real reason. Why? Because we believe that we are more than the sum of our parts, and we are.
In looking at the macro, it allows the micro or larger divides to come into a clearer focus. When you have a population doing so much at once, you need to be able to see the whole ant farm. That traditionalism that I spoke of is a very fine tool for creating a group of people and even a country or two. Let that continue to grow into individualism and this is where we find ourselves now. That layer of the onion that is hard to peel and is going to leave you a bit bloody and crying. There’s a lot of juice in this section and that is not going to help us sit easy for awhile. We have allowed and amassed a set of affluence that has created its own disease structure, that has allowed sores to fester, and that now has very little clue as what the next step in our evolution is or what it may look like? We have returned to the Hunter-Gatherer mentality, but within a collective, because we have seen that very traditionalism that was once used to unite us, used to divide us once again. Freedom from the most dubious of foundations, our traditions, is just a well covered slow motion trap. There is no wonder that the sense of individualism has sprouted up along with this information overload we have unleashed.
There is a loss of unity right now because there is no common, or too many commonalities for people to come together on. The opinionated taking theirs to ridiculous ends, and the apathetic doing the same. Those traditions of family are different, the traditions of government thrown out at every election and changed to fit contemporary talking points. We cannot even pay attention to a story or source of input for very long before we are drafted onto another cause celebre, or dastardly deed. This is why I always wonder why we give the kids ADHD drugs, don’t we know they are just responding to the input we have turned on? Filled ourselves up with the world at our own face value and wonder why our kids are acting this way? We have done well and changed almost too fast to imagine and in some cases much faster than imaginable. In a world where a better computer comes out every year, people are far behind the concepts of what all of that means. That means that the world is changing, doubling and tripling down and coming out ahead on every hand. We are rich with information and foolhardy with our expense accounts. The individualism and the traditionalism are now oceans and islands, and the hunter-gatherers are back to see what they can find in this new wasteland.
It is not something we will attain by tring, or by forcing nationalism down people’s throats. It may not be a better way forward, there may be something else? Yet, we don’t know about it because of this thought that there can be no better direction. It is a bit like Schrodinger’s Cat, we have a unity and a pride in ourselves and our country, but as soon as we take it out of the box, it dies. The traditions of this country are well and good, bad and in between. It’s people have many many more and they are changing as the years go by. You cannot at once be conservative and propose a future at face value, the futures in those cases rely too much upon a past that simply does not hold the answers for today’s problems. We can and will share a continuity of purpose, we will find out what is next in this world growing life that we now are a part of. It may not be by following traditions, but of making new ones and finding that there are numerous more layers to Democracy’s onion.