It is also important to read the reality of the environment around you. You’ve got less immediate control here in gathering the data, or doing something about the issue, but it is possible to observe, to understand, and to respond with conscious intention. To the extent that you can then see what you’re up against, you can make the best decisions for yourself, your family, and community.
In the class I teach, I ask the students to put on a couple of different types of “lenses”, or ways of seeing the world. One of these is to view in the social world around us forces of integration and disintegration. We observe forces of integration when things come together as a result of a continual input of energy and intention, of love (in the broad sense) – individuals cooperating, families functioning as a cohesive unit, groups working in partnership to achieve a social good, communities thriving where all members contribute to, benefit from, and have a valued role to play. On the other side, disintegration is the social entropy, where relationships and institutions fall apart. This could be due to neglect, absence of input, or even though willful application of selfishness or divisiveness. The “-isms” we see in society are an example of this, where groups see themselves as distinct and then act in ways to facilitate that separation. Much of this activity stems from a limited, material, understanding of human reality – that what defines us are our material characteristics – our sex, our color, physical abilities, levels of wealth, education status, the latest symbol of consumer fashion in our possession. Integration however, requires an understanding of the human condition that is yes, material, but also spiritual. That dignity is inherent and respect for the individual stems from a recognition that fundamentally, we are all spiritual beings momentarily in the material realm. It recognizes that injury to a part of the populace injures the whole. And then that social well-being is enhanced when the consideration of the welfare of all is made.
Why am I going into all of this? To the extent that you understand what’s at stake, you will recognize that every economic and financial choice you make has a moral dimension to it. And you will learn how to align yourself with those forces of integration, in order to achieve a lasting, satisfying, and edifying prosperity for yourself and the world around you. Chances are you’re already making conscious choices with this in mind, but it bears being explicit here: choosing to support sustainably harvested agricultural products, opting for electricity sourced from renewable or clean energy sources, seeking to trade fairly. Becoming a member of a cooperative or institution based on mutualism. Contributing a portion of your time, energy, and money to improve conditions next door, across town, or around the world.
In the following sections, I touch briefly on a range of topics that have significant bearing on our current reality. We’ll observe how these issues both contribute to the difficulties faced by individuals and communities, and also can be an opportunity to help integrate and enhance the welfare of society. Each is a profound subject with significant implications beyond the scope of this book, but I don’t want us to get lost in the weeds or succumb to paralysis by analysis. We’ll seek to continually be informed, have our set of principles for making decisions, act and move forward, reflect. Onward!
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