There is a saying used for work in the kitchen - A falling knife has no handle. You just put your hands up and step back to avoid the potential damage. By the same degree, a falling civilisation may no be savable. You just step back and save your surroundings as you watch it all unfold.
By this I do not mean "give up on doing anything at all", but more I mean to stop clinging to ideas and goals that might no longer be viable. To perform a societal Triage and to try and focus on the more immediate ideas, issues that will clamp down long before the more abstract and philosophical in nature. In other words, the lower things that the higher things depend on to function. You cannot build a house without a stable foundation.
As an example, I have been an organiser of another organisation for the best part of five years, it is highly focused on the ethics and ideas of how to use computer technology in a way that benefits the majority of people. That in itself is a reasonable idea, but after a while I had to step back and look at the larger picture. That is to see the Hyper-object on which these ideas reside in. For reference, a Hyper-Object is an idea used to explain heavily distributed systems that transcend localisation, a good example is climate change or resource usage. That is if you can get the total view of a system then you will see were your ideas sit in relation to everything else. It can be very humbling to do so and I recommend to folks to contemplate their ideals in this context.
The issue with this is that it is impossible to have a comprehensive view of the world. Take economics, even the best economists only ever figure out a fraction of a very specific scenario, to do it on a global scale simply can not be handled by any one person or persons. Folks that study colour science, they can spend decades continually learning how colours work and are perceived and yet it seem all so simple to us experiencing it. Complexity is not the enemy of knowing but it is the enemy of rationale.
Even if you do not have the full picture in terms of details, you can make a judgement based on the overview of what you perceive -just be prepared to be corrected with some details. In that regards, do not push away change, do not cling mentally.
And so it comes to these issues of politics, ethics, technology and social changes and you have to eventually take a step back and see just how important they really are. There are movements in terms of social equality that make a lot of sense, to grow peoples acceptance of others and to see others and equals – so that degree – The fool sees themselves as an other, the wise see others as themselves. But there are also movements that seem destined to fail long term because they did not look at the hyper-object from which they reside. I'm thinking of movements like "Occupy" who could not see the world issues as anything other than economic or systemic issue. They were right in their analysis of inequality, but the solutions ignored ecology and the limits of the biosphere.
I stepped away from my role in the direct techno-ethics role as far as it relates to computing as the view from the hyper-object is one that shows the entire idea of complex higher functioning computing may just be a temporary blip in the history of our resource excessive society. I am still very much interested in technology and how it will shape the future, only it won't be the digital super dream that it is defined as today by those who have already shaped the future in their mind as being upwards only.
There are better ways I can spend my time, both in terms of my personal health (both physical and mental) and in the way I can help others and get the conversations flowing between others. This was part of the reasoning for creating the Ecosophy Society in which this essay resides. To see the world from deep time and deep perspective not just from the temporal issues of the ego driven world.
There are definitely still things we all do that will go against these ideas but that is because they are in a blind spots yet to be discovered. See if you can find some of yours, if you can that can be an opportunity to grow – the grow for yourself and eventually for others.
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