[extropy-chat] Time Magazine's Person of the Year

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Mon Dec 18 20:13:15 UTC 2006

> pjmanney wrote:

> The flipside, of course, is when you do not share a common 
> culture with your fellow citizens because each citizen has 
> their own self-created culture, the fragmentation can cause 
> massive schisms in society and will redefine what society is. 
>  We're seeing just the beginnings of it right now.  But we 
> all know that already.  As these niche societies become more 
> and more diverse, and more narcissistic, it's going to get 
> pretty dicey globally, until we find a way to achieve a 
> socially viable balance.  At least that's my theory.

I think this is a key point requiring a bigger picture perspective that
is generally lacking. Many people have heard the statement "I disapprove
of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"
[1] and think of it as a statement about the importance of free speech.
It is an expression of a much broader principle, that of a *shared*
appreciation of the importance of *diversity* as essential to our
*common* growth.

* We have people on one side of the room arguing that diversity is
important in terms of all individuals having equal worth, or
immeasurable worth -- either way a muddled concept that ignores
significant differences.

* We have people on the other side of the room arguing that diversity is
important in terms of each "sovereign" individual having the right to do
one's own thing as long as such actions don't infringe on the rights of
another to do the same -- an equally muddled concept that ignores
significant commonalities.

So few of us today see human society as an ecology, where one's
intentional growth is based on effective awareness of a complex system
of both competition and cooperation.

Fortunately, as the Times article highlights, such awareness tends to
emerge because it works.  But will it fly high enough and far enough
just to meet our basic needs as primates who enjoy being entertained, or
will we recognize and grasp it as a powerful and general tool of
effective decision-making?

- Jef

1. http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Evelyn_Beatrice_Hall

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