Sunday, March 20, 2005

FLOW Ideal: A world of healthy, happy people doing good and having fun.

I want to do good and have fun doing it. I expect that most people would also like to be doing good and having fun doing it. We can help to create a world in which most of human life, most of the time, consists of doing good and having fun doing it.

In order to do so, we need to dramatically change many of our institutions, not just once, but over and over and over again. We need dramatic, ongoing change in all of the institutions of our society. We need to embrace the process of creative destruction enthusiastically; we need to celebrate the forward motion of an ongoing process of innovation and entrepreneurship that will bring happiness for all into the world.

In Maslow’s hierarchy, once people’s more basic needs for food, shelter, and safety, have been met, they then crave love, esteem, and self-actualization. In the developed countries, almost everyone’s basic needs have been met. In the “emerging economies,” we know that opening the world will allow the basic needs of almost everyone on the planet to be met. Thus the fundamental problem is how to allow people’s needs for love, esteem, and self-actualization to be met more effectively.

At present, many people seem to believe that money, power, and formal status (e.g. a title, “Professor so-and-so,” or “Chief Undersecretary so-and-so”) are required to get their esteem needs met. But this is an entirely arbitrary approach. Human beings are tribal animals that have been genetically programmed to seek hierarchy and status within their tribes. But the wonderful thing about the world today is that we can create new tribes with new standards for the distribution of status.

Some people are perfectly content with existing status hierarchies. For some people, it is utterly okay with them that Donald Trump is respected for being rich and gaudy, or President Bush is respected for being powerful, or Noam Chomsky is respected for being a famous intellectual. Let them enjoy their status hierarchies. Let them be.

Other people are frustrated and unhappy with existing status hierarchies. They believe that there is something morally bankrupt about a society that respects wealth, power, or position. Wonderful! Let them criticize by creating. Let them create new communities, with new ideals, and new status hierarchies.

There are open source communities in which Linus Torvalds is the ultimate hero. There are athletic communities in which Lance Armstrong is the ultimate hero. Riane Eisler wants to create a “partnership” society instead of a patriarchy or a matriarchy. Go Riane! Tim Munson wants to create “new technologies of meaning.” Go Tim!

Is it easy to create new communities with new status hierarchies? Not at all. No one ever claimed that worthwhile achievement was easy, ever. Is it worth attempting? Of course.

The only Greek expression that I remember after two years of Greek is Ta Kala Xalepa: “That which is beautiful or noble is difficult and worth striving for.”

We need to create an honorable, pluralistic ethos according to which we acknowledge that many people are dissatisfied with many things in our society – fine, we welcome dissatisfaction as the source of craving for the good. But we never accept whining or criticizing of others or critiques of “society.” If you don’t like it, go fix it, go create a world, a community, a sub-culture in which your ideals can be instantiated, realized, in which you can show us what your vision of beauty and nobility looks like. Create a new social reality, so that I can see your dreams come true. I want to see a world in which billions of dreams are coming true constantly.

Criticize by creating.


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