Polishing Wisdom


TRACKING COMPASSION IN AN UNRAVLED WORLD

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Unraveling

     Investigation shows that humanity is intricately wedded to all of the natural world systems that both science and indigenous knowledge can name. One of the consequences of human success ‘appearing’ to control nature is a blind confidence that systems are stable and that we are up to the task of making the future resemble the present. But systems are always subject to change and our blindness is perpetuated at great cost . . . There is a wind for every house of cards.

            The term ‘unraveling’ is used to convey the spiraling demise of this interconnectedness when it’s complexity reaches a critical mass, with one problem leading to another too quickly to remedy. This spiral can be set off by insignificant events in a little understood corner of the connected world . . . say, a disease that spreads without discernible logic, or the invention of a new weapon, or a drought in the wrong place at the right time, or the collapse of pollenating bee colonies, leading to crop failures, or peak oil, or a national psyche needing to divest itself of a prior humiliation through seizing territory. We can invent viable causes like this all day. But most likely the spiral will begin through some synchronistic confluence of these things—climate events, territorial threats, disease, resource limits. . . History shows that some people push small causes into wider trauma by attributing blame to others for things NO LONGER in control. And why is this world more subject to unraveling than in the past? Because of the sheer global scale of interconnection, with information moving at the speed of light. This means that misunderstanding, deception and prejudice can also move at the speed of light.

            In the Trouble with Wisdom, the causes and stages of the Unraveling are left unspecified, to allow readers to see for themselves the myriad possibilities. There is mention of a previous Globalliance that made incursions onto U.S. soil. And of a new type of weapon that had the nickname of White Lighters. It, too, is left unspecified in its characteristics, and different versions of its results are left to lie unclarified.

            The cause of the ‘unraveling’ is not important. The story is not about those particulars, though some will really want to know what they are. The premise here is that the earth itself is not going to be consumed in fire. The result, though, is that suffering will descend on the unsuspecting many as the gossamer threads that hold normalcy snap. This story begins after that time. . . and examines ‘what then?’

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