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What is Possible? What is Desirable?

by John K. Stoner   (June 29, 2017)

My recent blogs have been addressing the question of “what is possible?” in terms of human behavior.  It is an old and important question, and I will keep returning to it. But there is a related question, which is “what is desirable?”  In other terms, that question is, “What do we want to see in human behavior?”

It would be interesting, and I think actually necessary, to speculate on which of these two questions is more decisive in the mind of most people.  And so, let’s speculate on that today.

Let’s face it: whatever is going wrong, or going right, in the world is doing so basically because of human behavior—human choices.  We could spend a long time reviewing ways in which people— societies— try to deny and avoid their responsibility for their choices.  The elaborate justifications of greed, oppression and violence which we see in our world are basically all ways of denying responsibility for the suffering humans visit on other humans.  

Domination systems seek to justify their methods by arguing that the only possible way to restrain human proclivities toward greed and violence are by organizing “superior” greed and violence.  Thus, we have a capitalist economic system which claims that greed is a self-governing human capacity, and violence is an essential and redemptive corporate duty rooted in realities of human nature.  These mantra’s—truth claims—of our society seem to be based on assumptions about what is possible in terms of human behavior.  

So the domination system which is deemed desirable is desirable because it is the only thing that is possible.

Or is it?  

Which takes us back to what is possible in human behavior.   In the coming days I’m asking for a fair look at that question.  We will even drag in a little science.  And a little imagination.  What if, for example, human behavior is actually capable of being 10% more compassionate and forgiving? 

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