Social thermodynamics

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

This applies to societies. The internal construct, what holds society together, has an external resonance. This sets up a chain of reactions which in turn impact on and shape society. It matters how groups are born and what holds them together.

Nationalism is always, in the end, corrosive. This is why. Societies, like the individual, are shaped in the mirror of those outside them. The other. The internal character is a reflection of the external reference. Whatever the start point, nationalism ends up by defining itself by reference to “the enemy” – which is of course only other ordinary men and women – but externalised and dehumanised. Made other. We project out  all that is negative.  It is the politician’s cheapest trick; to set up the reviled “other”, blame them for anything that is wrong and consequently draw “us” together.

How then can just society arise?

If the impulse that draws us together as community is love, then this will lead to a projection of good on to others. This com-passion with and for others –  in all their glorious differentiation is reflected back, bonding and reinforcing a sense of our greater human community. Simple. First love your enemy.

But loving one’s enemy is HARD. It takes an overwhelming outside force. I personally struggle with it. It is possible though, but only with outside help. One definition of God might be just that. The force of love as an external agency. And the opposite is also a truth. All and any love is God, by whatever name. Only by reference to this external and eternal force can a just lasting and joyful society hope to work. All else is illusion. Strip away any preconceptions about organised religion and focus on what makes for a just society.

You arrive at something like this:

Love other as we love ourselves. Love Love above all. Keep responding with love not war even after 490 provocations. Judge what is right by results not words.

This is of course has been said before, by someone who lived the words.

4 thoughts on “Social thermodynamics

  1. Sweet article! Thank you! 🙂

    “Societies, like the individual, are shaped in the mirror of those outside them. The other. The internal character is a reflection of the external reference. Whatever the start point, nationalism ends up by defining itself by reference to ‘the enemy'”

    And the “enemy” is largely just an externalized projection of what we hate about ourselves and are so far from coming to terms with that we must make it “other.” Quite a loop, eh?

    Loving our enemies is *impossible* as long as we consider them enemies, which means alien, dehumanized, and antagonistic. Psychologically, love just doesn’t occur under those conditions. We must find something that we can honestly love — in other words, authentic humanity.

    If we befriend our enemies — not to be taken advantage by them but to find their humanity so that we can recognize it — two things happen. First, as we see their genuine humanness, we will love them automatically, unless we are so twisted that seeing authentic humanity causes us to hate. Second, because we recognized their humanity, they will feel less antagonistic towards us, again automatically. Just watch how people respond to being sincerely recognized and appreciated for who they are. It’s psychologically impossible for them to respond with animosity (although I’ve seen people suppress and deride the recognition in order to hold onto their animosity, sadly.)

    Maybe the problem isn’t in the paradox of loving the unlovable, but in our assumption that they are nothing but unlovable.

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