Ripple 3a: Conformity


At some point in the last ten thousand years, human beings began to use control as a way to make their lives better. In doing so, an over-arching model was established: conformity and thus control because conformity renders something controllable through predictability. For example, a hunter-gather has no control over assuring food for himself or others on any given day. However, if the gatherer becomes a planter, then there is more assurance that a predictable source of food will be where he or she expects. Having witnessed Nature’s cycles, we try to repeat them in hopes that abundance with result.

If we ponder the idea of conformity in order to control and control for improvement or a better, easier way of life, it soon becomes obvious:

  • that the improvement is not universal (not everyone or everything experiences betterment. Tragically the opposite is quite often the result.);
  • that control is a response to a set of circumstances. Change the circumstances while locked into an established response and there is inertia along with an inability to change to the new circumstances;
  • that in Nature conformity is not isolated or separated from chaos and dynamism. The two are necessary for both adaptive and newly stabilizing functioning of the whole and its parts. Separated from dynamism, conformity becomes stagnation, torpor, and death to any system of life. Equally, dynamism without temporary periods of stability and pattern is unending chaos and cannot sustain life.

It also becomes obvious that conformity will, at some point, require uniformity. Ah, tricky waters there.

DSC00124Look out your window and think about it for a moment. Depending on where you live, you will see the impact of man and conformity or the variations and looseness of Nature. If you are fortunate, you live where both are functioning well which means that, where you live, people have understood the value and necessity of Nature’s “wildness.”

Take a moment and inventory all the conformity that you can itemize right now. Remember to include your clothes, haircut, windows, chair, computer or mobile device, any streets that might be in your view, the cars or modes of transportation on them, and so forth. Then consider the amount of control these give you. The list would include: where you can go, how to get there. This list also includes the amount of control others have over you, as well as the control that you personally no longer have because of the established norms of conformity and uniformity that pervade our human life.

Some ripples:

Domestication of all animals began with the wolf following and preying upon hunters and small clans of people. Wolves are smart. Some determined that it was easier to get a meal from the humans than to try to take down a baby mammoth. And humans are, by nature, curious and caring. They would adopt found or abandoned wolf pups. One thing led to another.

In addition to the beginning of the age-long relationship of man and his best friend, this chickensalso began the domestication of other animals that human beings have tamed. As a result, food sources (eggs, cheese, milk, meats), clothing (hides, sinew, thread, wool), labor (elephants, horses, oxen, mules and donkeys, etc), pets of all kinds, and sport are part of human life. In each case, the animal was made to conform to the human need or desire. Ultimately, animals were bred for the uniformity of characteristics such as size, color, or specific reason for being through breeding processes. Examples of this give us the variety of cows and milk-fat content, pugs and poodles, and blue egg laying chickens as well as brown.

About Donna Mitchell-Moniak

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