I’m learning about the gifts of elephant wisdom. They include awareness, confidence, dignity, environmental protection, guardianship, family love, happiness, kindness, listening, longevity, patience, reliability, stamina, and wisdom.
Which of these gifts do you resonate with most?
Your writings today bring so many different thoughts to me.
Part of me rejects some of the idea Elephant wisdom.
I accept that elephants can be very intelligent.
I accept that they have long memories and complex social systems.
The really deep question is, does any of that complexity really deserve the title “wisdom”?
Of the values you shared, they all resonate with me.
And the one that is most important is the idea of family.
How big are people willing to make their family?
Is it just partner, parents and children?
Is it wider kin living nearby (tribe)?
Is it the community that they live in?
Is it the district, the nation, the planet?
Is it restricted just to human beings sharing a mostly common genetic heritage, or does family include any entity capable of modeling itself and others within a model of reality and capable of language and choice between possible future projections based upon the model they have?
For me, seeing evolution in a context of the strategies present in the levels of systems present; it is clear that all major advances in the complexity of living systems occur when new levels of cooperation emerge from the previous level. And raw cooperation is always vulnerable to exploitation by cheating strategies, so at every new level, new and ever emergent sets of anti-cheating strategies are required, in order to sustain both cooperation and diversity.
For me it is clear that most of our emotions, most of our cultural systems of beliefs (particularly those around fairness and honour) are precisely these sorts of stabilising, anti-cheating strategies. And there is always a sort of intellectual arms race involves, with potential cheating strategies emerging, requiring new levels of awareness and strategy to bring stability to the cooperative.
And cooperatives may be very diverse. It is possible to sustain cooperatives with as little as two core common value sets (individual life and individual liberty).
For me, our cultural systems have reached a critical point in our evolution.
The major social organising system is the idea of money, of markets, of exchange.
When most things were genuinely scarce that idea made a lot of sense.
But our ability to automate things has been doubling rapidly (every year), for a very long time.
The vast majority of people have shared very little of that.
It is now the very idea of markets, of exchange value, of getting more value than you give, that threatens our very survival.
Giving gifts is great.
We all enjoy giving, without necessarily getting anything material in return.
Often, the act of contribution is its own reward.
Our automated systems now have the ability to give the essentials of life and liberty (air, water, food, education, transport, shelter, transport, communication) to every person on the planet – yet most remain in poverty and ignorance, mostly because of beliefs in a scarcity based mythology of markets and the sort of value that markets measure.
I have very little time for religions, yet I have a great deal of respect for the person hinted at as the Jesus of history, who spoke of universal acceptance, and universal cooperation. A good jewish lad who spent a bit of time alone in the desert thinking about things then came back and spoke out about what seemed obvious to him.
From my perspective his explanatory framework (god and heaven) was far from accurate, but many of the principles he came up with have a certain timeless quality to them that are as applicable in the reality that seems most probable to me, as they were to the cultural reality of his day.
So I resonate with all of those values in a sense, and beyond them and all encompassing of them is the notion of the commonality of all self aware entities, whatever their origin, and the power and possibility of cooperation at the highest levels.
After 50 years of exploration of systems, I am confident, beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt, that cooperation will always deliver safer and more prosperous long term outcomes than competition (however advantageous competitive systems look in the short term).
Wishing you and Len and your wider family of people and puppies a very merry and prosperous future.