A Case of Boiling Frog Syndrome

If you place a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will immediately try to jump out.
Yet, if you place a frog in room temperature water, and gradually turn up the temperature, something very interesting occurs:
Instead of jumping out, once the water gets too hot, the frog will do nothing as the temperature rises from 70 to 80, to 90 degrees.
In fact, the frog will show every sign of enjoying himself.
As the temperature gradually increases, the frog becomes groggier and groggier, until he is unable to climb out of the pot – though there is nothing restraining him.
The frog will simply continue to sit there and boil (Watch here)

At times, it feels like our culture is in a similar pot.
The temperature gradually increasing, both literally and figuratively.
Yet, we continue to sit here, as if nothing were happening.
We too, pretending that we are enjoying ourselves.

Why does this happen?

Frogs internal apparatus for sensing threats to survival is geared toward sudden and drastic changes in their environment.
Our culture is influenced by a similar system: the primary threats to our survival come not from sudden events but from slow gradual processes:

the arms race
environmental decay
the erosion of public education
inequality
chronic health ailments

Yet, we sit in the pot and act as if these things aren’t occurring and refuse to dedicate the attention and resources needed to find solutions to the complex challenges we face.

This is driven by our fixation on events and the influence of the well-worn narrative.
We get distracted by the “news” or events that are short-term in nature.
This is largely a result of our evolutionary programming.
In our caveman days, it wasn’t vital for our survival to have the ability to contemplate the cosmos.
Instead, it was more important to see the saber-toothed tiger over our left shoulder and react quickly.

However, our paradigm has shifted – today, contemplating the cosmos, our impact on the environment, inequality, access and the affordability of health care are each vital to the survival of our culture.
Unfortunately, currently, we often fail to focus on the big picture.
Instead, we are more interested in events – just as when we were cavemen and cave-women.
The news we consume.
Our social media habits.
Our unhealthy TV consumption.
And many others, work together to reinforce our short-term, event-driven focus.

If we don’t shift our perspective we will never possess the ability to solve the chronic problems our culture faces.
Thinking that is dominated by the short term, can only merely, at best, predict an event before it occurs allowing one to merely react optimally.
Without long-term thinking, we will never cultivate the ability to create.
The ability to create long-term solutions or the infrastructure to address obesity, global warming, or inequality.

Focusing on events and solving the problems of the day is easy and it gives us the illusion of feeling accomplished.
However, it is just that – an illusion.
To create the world we want to live in, a world with a little less suffering, a little less destruction, and a little less evil will take a long-term perspective.
We must learn to see.

Learn to slow down our frantic pace, step back from our social media activity and the news of the day and start to pay attention to the subtle as well as the dramatic.
The path is harder but the rewards are real.

Be a Weed

Weeds grow strong.
Weeds grow wherever they please.
Weeds are hard to kill.
You pull them out, and they grow back – time and time again.
Weeds come in all shapes and sizes.
Weeds can prosper in nearly any environment.

Weeds are independent thinkers:

Jeff Bezos
Warren Buffet
Karl Benz
Marting Luther King, Jr.
Johannes Gutenberg
Seth Godin
Noam Chomsky
Dr. Phil Valentine
Yuval Noah Harari
Alan Watts
Joseph Campbell
Ray Dalio
Alain de Botton
Lewis Hyde

To name a few.

What do these individuals have in common?
Each of them are weeds in societies garden of ignorance.
They refuse to let popular opinion govern their decisions.
They consider the facts, as they are currently known, and make a decision. When the facts change, they are willing to change their point of view to meet the current dimensions of reality.

Our culture needs more weeds.
Weeds are natures support corps and are vital to a healthy universe.
They are a reaction to the myriad of deficiencies in our culture.

Most importantly, weeds perform a vital job in our ecosystem: they quickly establish, protect, and restore the humanity that has been left exposed by natural and human-caused disturbances.

Be a Weed.

The Illusion of “OR”

Life is not a conflict between opposite but a polarity.

Things may be poked apart but they all go together.

However, that’s now how most of our culture views the world. Instead of “and”, it’s “or”

We live in a Culture of Duality.

We believe that people are good or evil

Rich or poor

Have hate or compassion

Black or white

Alive or dead

Yet, this is an illusion.

All things go together – the world is in fact one.

You can’t have a north pole without a south pole.

There isn’t good in this world without evil.

No one would be considered rich without society labeling the status of others as poor.

There is no way to be educated without the uneducated.

No such thing as hate without compassion.

There are no people that we consider black without those that we deem white.

No such thing as living, without the occurrence of death.

No trap without someone to be caught.

No compulsion unless there is also freedom of choice.

And of course, without others, there is no self.

Recognizing this illusion gives you the opportunity to change your posture.

The opportunity to realize that differentiation is not separation.

Living under this illusion is like viewing the world through the narrow gap in a fence, for when we attend to something, or take one side of the dualistic view, we ignore everything else – it is viewing the world with narrowed perception.

The head and the feet are different, but not separate, and though we are not connected to the universe by exactly the same physical relation as branch to tree or feet to head, he is nonetheless connected.- Alan Watts