.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Fixin' Healthcare

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Vitality, Driving Force, and Progress

Progress is often interpreted to be change with a positive and beneficial outcome; movement toward a desired or specified goal. Such may be the case but progress can simply mean movement in any direction regardless of the goal. And, there is the matter of inertia. For a society to move in a somewhat coordinated manner at the same time in the same direction is a monumental feat. "The old-time rabbis used to teach that the Kingdom of God would come if only the whole of Israel would really keep a single Sabbath simultaneously." (Albert Schweitzer, The Philosophy of Civilization, 1987 by Prometheus Books) Societies do not easily or frequently change directions but they may lack progress and improvement.

Change starts slowly and moves in fits and starts before gaining momentum. The knowledge of life is not easily acquired or understood. However, it is necessary for life to be optimistic and ethical. Optimism affirms life as something possessing intrinsic value and stimulates the impulse to raise existence to the highest level of value within current capability. From this comes activity directed to the improvement of the living condition, which will be the wellspring of progress for individuals and society. (Albert Schweitzer, The Philosophy of Civilization)

Many tools and attitudes are available to characterize, pursue, and enhance the direction and pace of change but the essential element is the driving force. Civilizations rise and fall; cultures come and go depending upon the vitality of the driving force. The nature of the driving force reaches beyond the logical conclusions and theories required in the assessment of reality and extend into the spiritual realm of what might be and the ideals of life. Individuals conceive ideals and fit them to the realities of life as a basis for decision making. The vitality of the driving force for society is dependent upon whether the ideals of individuals aim at progress of the whole.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Good, Gooder, Goodest

Transformation need not create or destroy components of society. It accelerates change, shifts priorities, and exerts differential influence upon the various components and groups of society. The result is disruption of the established order. Transformation has no intent or plan. It does not include justice, right or wrong, good or bad.

During the middle of the 14th century, plague (Black Death) killed almost half the population in what would become modern Europe and precipitated some of the worst behavior ever attributed to human beings. Where was the justice in that? But, in the aftermath came the Renaissance. Cause and effect? Maybe.

It is comforting to think of the new order as improvement over the old, but there is no assurance of better. Things are just different and history attempts to sort relative value.

Labels: ,

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Do What You Have To Do

Disruption and transformation of society imposes upon people the necessity to learn how to live in new and changing conditions. Although many of these conditions are external to people, the greatest disruption and most transforming force comes from the changed mind-sets of people. When enough people reach a similar alteration in mind-set, the collective response to the precipitating conditions becomes a driving force in a new direction generating momentum and inertia. Some call this a paradigm shift but many things are labeled paradigm shifts that do not transform society. Malcolm Gladwell's "tipping point" applies but does not convey the magnitude represented by transformation (Tipping Point, 2000). Transformation of society is rare and the results are a different and sustained way of life.

Labels: ,

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Too Soon To Tell

Great Britain lost the North American colonies following the American Revolution. However, it was the Civil War that changed mind-sets of the population and initiated the transformation of the country into a nation. The French Revolution (1789 – 1799) disrupted and transformed France. Traditional Chinese culture was disrupted by the Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976) but time may prove this to be less transforming for China than the impact of commercial enterprise. Zhou Enlai (Chou En-lei), the Prime Minister of China during the Cultural Revolution, famously responded to a question about the historical effect of the French Revolution that it was “too soon to tell”. World War I was broadly disruptive but its contribution to transformation was to set the stage for World War II.

Labels: ,