FEELING BOXED IN?
Feeling boxed in? You’re not alone. It wasn’t always this way. Up until age 1 to 2 we were all blissfully unaware. Then we each discovered ME & NOT ME. We discovered Box World!
Brief History of Box World
Our “ME” box was magical with power to create other boxes almost without limit; and so, we did. First we built a tangible Box World for our material physical stuff that mimicked our human physical box. This took tens of thousands of years to perfect. About 2500 years ago we began to seriously invent intangible abstract boxes for our non-material knowledge stuff , starting with philosophy, which mimicked our brain.
We used he newer intangible boxes to improve our older tangible boxes by accelerating the development of advanced physical boxes for every function in society. Then about 25 years ago we began to integrate our advanced intangible boxes with our advanced tangible boxes to interconnect the world with itself wirelessly with an Internet. That’s when we began to realize we were caught in a dilemma. We were literally creating a new world in our image, a new autonomous world with a mind of its own.
Now, boxes (both tangible and intangible) are interacting with each other in all four combinations (T-I, I-T, T-T, I-I) as digital technology melts away all box sides into a new and seamless entangled reality.
Society seems poised on the edge of an epochal disruptive shift that has many unknown possibilities, both good and bad.
A few people learned how to think way outside of all boxes and are creating this slick new and addictive digital society for everyone that is rapidly eliminating the naturally-constraining “frictions” of time, space and matter. These “frictions” had provided resistance to the movement of materials and information through society that kept their movement speed below that of our brain processing speed for many centuries. In a scant few decades the speed of this movement between and within our entangled boxes has exceeded human processing speed by tens of thousands of times approaching the speed of light.
Humans were built over eons for processing reality through the “friction” of our five tangible senses! This friction is disappearing and leaving most individuals caught between the old tangible and new intangible worlds in a state of profound conflict. I believe this is the master conflict of our time and the root of many major problems in today’s headlines, which have been building for millennia.
Simply put, society is like a three-year old who is expert in riding a tricycle in a tricycle world but woke up one morning in a bicycle world trying to ride a bicycle.
What to do? First, laugh at our self-created predicament; we have met the enemy and he is us. Then look the raw truths in the eye as far as we can see to understand and embrace the magnitude of both the peril and promise of our situation. Finally, spread awareness and proceed to collectively fix it like we have for millions of years by keeping going and making mid-course corrections until we find our way.
(Question: What are times and events in history during in which changes this big occurred and what did we do about them?)
Our challenge is to focus on regaining our balance as a whole as we move forward, knowing that change will continue to speed up. We can do this like we have always done throughout history:
Blend the best ideas of the past with the best ideas of the future through trial and error until we create a new stable existence that can keep its balance as change speeds up.
Here is George Carlin in a magical electronic box of flickering light getting laughs thirty years ago from our obsession with the who, when, where, how, and why of our physical stuff. He passed and is no longer tangibly real, but his insights remain real and timeless.
If he were alive today he would probably be extending his tangible-stuff routine to the wonderful and weird modern world of intangible-stuff, and then to the post-modern fantasy world of entangled-stuff.
A Brief History of Raw Truths
Any modern discussion of truth ought to start by admitting that “truth” is a flawed concept expressed in any language that tries to define it absolutely. This point is illustrated by Donald Rumsfeld’s confusing answer to a press question on the Afghanistan war (below 1), who generalized a well-known psychological self-knowledge assessment framework developed in 1950 by Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham. They named it the Johari Window (below 2):
A Few “Raw Truth” Known Knowns
- Life is a mystery because it exists.
- Life always seems to find a way forward.
- Life will hunt, trade, steal, lie, or kill for FOOD to survive;
- Life will fight FOES to the death to survive;
- Life will make FRIENDS with others–even love them–to protect and perpetuate their kind for their survival.
Food, Foe, and Friends is “Raw Truth” : Everything else amounts to provisional truths.
Provisional truths emerge from regularities we experience, but experience changes over time, even “scientific truth. For example, ideas tend to change shape over time: Tangible food for the tangible body morphs into intangible “food” (abstract information) for the tangible brain. Also, scientific “absolutes,” like number logic (see Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem) breakdown in the limit; and physical reality at its smallest size exists in a quantum state of uncertainty denying its discrete particle nature.
Now, go back in time with me and imagine you are R. J. Cave Person living 50,000 years ago. You are essentially the same physical person in body and brain size that you were then but with 50,000 less years of experience. You started learning through trial and error, and compounded that learning exponentially by saving the stuff that reinforced your chances for survival by actions taken in your three primal experience buckets: Food, Foe, Friend.
Like you, your cousin, RJ, most likely possessed the six Action Distinction Questions (ADQs – questions that lead to actions for creating a distinction) needed to fill the three survival buckets, which probably existed before language was invented:
- Who are you, friend or foe?
- What kind of thing or food is this?
- When does it become dark?
- Where is a good cave?
- How do I make shelter, weapons, fire and friends?
- Why is there something instead of nothing?
All six ADQs are “box” generators for making tangible, intangible, and entangled boxes. The sixth ADQ, “Why,” is the biggest box of all. It asks the biggest questions, and contains the biggest mysteries because it is completely open ended to infinity. The “How” ADQs are mostly closed once asked seriously, because they are multipurpose building blocks that primarily support long-term survival. The first four “Wh” ADQs are variably closed and opened, depending on use, and intended primarily for short term adjustment for survival.
I think of these six Action Distinction Questions as civilizations’ primary tools of inquiry and advancement. I imagine that each question represents one of six doors on the six faces of our box world that allow us to escape to our next preferred box world.