Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Spaceship Logic

We are the latest of many generations of astronauts on an intricately complex spaceship that is orbiting the Galaxy every 200 million years or so. Like other astronauts, we have a set of jobs to do in order to keep the spaceship functioning and its passengers alive. Unlike other astronauts, most of us have abandoned our jobs, and have been tearing apart the spaceship to create and maintain playgrounds so more of us can have more fun. We have been doing this without understanding or caring about how it affects how the spaceship works.

There are now many of us who have grown up in the playgrounds and know nothing else, including what our original jobs were. This is unfortunate, because we have now done so much damage to the spaceship that its life support systems are breaking down. The other astronauts have worked valiantly to repair the damage since they depend on the spaceship for survival too; but we have treated them like the rest of the spaceship, without regard for their value as fellow astronauts, what their jobs are, and what will happen when they can't do their jobs.

The lives of all aboard the spaceship depend upon using and reusing almost everything, preferably during the lifetimes of its passengers. It has many mechanisms for ensuring this, including passengers eating other passengers and converting them into forms that others can use, as well as producing more passengers. We have disrupted these processes, which is a large part of the damage we've done, by either hoarding a lot of what we take, or turning it into forms that others can't use within the time they need for survival.

Conditions have grown so bad that our playgrounds are in danger and people are becoming sick enough to notice. A growing number of us are realizing in horror that it may soon be too late to repair the damage before it kills our generation of fellow astronauts, and they are raising alarms. The alarms are muted, however, because the majority have grown up depending on the playgrounds and the people who manage them for their survival and fulfillment, and they are trapped, at least psychologically, in the patterns of living they know there. They continue to plan their lives so they can work for only part of the time, and enjoy a few of their later years without working; in part through saving, and in part by subsidizing the growth of activity by others, using abstractions that shield them from the real effects of what they do. The alarms make little sense, because the rest of the spaceship has no meaning except as a source of material for food and construction, and as a dumping ground for what we don't use.

Based on the logic of the playground, our best response is to make better playgrounds, isolated from the threat. This is, of course, the worst thing we can do, because it will cause more damage, amplifying the threat. We will be essentially fighting ourselves until we lose, and sadly most of us may never understand why. Our best hope is to keep that from happening by replacing the logic of the playground with the logic of the spaceship, and gaining more knowledge about how everything works by experiencing it with an open mind and respect grounded in our identity as part of the spaceship, instead of something apart.

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