Z4 Paradigm Framework
It's to be expected that the character and motives of those supporting profound changes may be questioned. In our habitual loyalties to habitual systems, we can tend to feel suspicious of reforms. Understandably so - we've assimilated and internalized habits and systems that have allowed us to survive and, to some degree, flourish, up to this point. The new is the relatively unknown, the untested - we can naturally be unsure how compatible or incompatible profound reforms will be with our continued existence. Periodic review and revision of our systems is very important, we could even say necessary, for our health and well-being. But advocates of profound changes, such as the changes proposed here, are flawed creatures like anyone else, sometimes prone to foolishness, inconsiderateness, resentment, hypocrisy, hyperbole, complacency, pettiness, etc., and may even be more susceptible than others to certain types of vices. Self-righteousness, for instance, is a familiar occupational hazard for reformers and activists. When technological early adopters display personal shortcomings, such as pretentiousness about having obtained a technology before others, this is regrettable and often worth addressing, but others can still appreciate and embrace any new capabilities that the technology may offer. They can still intelligently assess the benefits and drawbacks of adopting the technology themselves. So it is with paradigm shifts: please, evaluate the scenario herein according to its own merits, not simply according to who has or hasn't been promoting it. We intend and believe that implementing these ideas will help all of us practice more virtue and less vice. We also wish to emphasize that we don't seek to impugn the character or ultimate motives of anyone, including anyone who may argue against these proposals or who may have been particularly instrumental in upholding any of the systems supplanted by implementation of proposals like these. This clarification seems germane in light of the hostility that has often attended the discourse around our general goals and directions for development. We offer this scenario for everyone's benefit, in a spirit of attempting to effect a genuine healing of the many types of rifts that have recurred and persisted for so long. The sheer radicalness of at least some of these proposals may engender suspicion that they're born of cynicism toward the status quo. In point of fact, our world abounds with wondrous, majestic, beautiful happenings. There is so much that inspires us, there are so many who inspire us, to protect and extend the preciousness around us, the legacy we've inherited and co-created. Every day, our planet is flooded with blessings, many of them flowing relatively directly from our intentional efforts, many of them less well understood but wonderful and appreciated nonetheless. We also see significant amounts of pain, senseless destruction, wasted effort, and missed opportunities, every day. Looking into the future, there are utopian possibilities - peace, harmony, new abilities in many dimensions, prospects of sailing into the realms beyond the sky, accompanied by delightfully charming and helpful robots, etc. And there are dystopian possibilities - stagnation, deterioration, mass death, etc. Many factors and actors conspire to help us succeed, but a much fuller realization of the remarkable potentials of our civilization and our planet seems far from a foregone conclusion, particularly if some major changes aren't made. We can maximize our chances, and have more fun along the way, by conspiring with ever greater heartfulness and mindfulness. The effort to refine our most basic values and methods has emerged as one of the intentional efforts that can lead to particularly large deluges of blessings. By elaborating and laboring in these sorts of directions, we can forestall significant hardships and reach fabulous new successes. Long-time far-out dreams can become happy realities, letting us move on to the next big projects. The radicalness of these proposals may also engender suspicion that implementation will be made difficult by the extent to which people are habituated to, or comfortable with, current ways of doing things. Let's acknowledge that there may well be some difficult aspects of this transition. We hold that we can surmount the difficulties and that the challenges will be well worth meeting. We all form habits and can experience discomfort around changes, especially major changes. We're not, of course, talking about changing everything. A great many of our values, patterns, and systems will endure through this transition. The changes we do recommend are designed precisely to maximize our long-term ability to conserve and expand upon the most cherished aspects of our reality. We all can and do take many effective, worthwhile, shorter-term or piecemeal measures toward these ends, within the frameworks of our currently operative paradigms. But we also see this profound systemic shift as a crucial part of an optimal course of action in keeping with our deepest, highest values. Some do seem less likely, or able, than others to expeditiously embrace and adopt these ideas, and there are tendencies to go to extreme lengths to preserve the prevalence of certain patterns, even (and sometimes especially) when better ones begin to emerge. This makes it important for those who already see the value of these ideas to bear witness as earnestly and clearly as possible.
The process of formulating, promulgating, and implementing a major new paradigm for civilization is, in many ways, a relatively rare and unique process. But for convenience, we can liken some aspects of it to the functions of standards bodies like the International Standards Organization (ISO), the IEEE Standards Association, the IETF, and the W3C. Folks with these organizations become familiar with certain technologies and issue specifications for goods and services to meet so that a level of quality can be assured. (For example, ISO 12312-2 is the widely accepted standard for solar viewing glasses.) As these groups recommend specific technical components, so we put forward components to form the kernel of a major intentional transformation and new system.
Two main principles comprise our paradigm framework. The first is that we embrace perpetual learning. For as long as we shall live, we'll keep encountering new information. Our knowledge of the world is limited, probabilistic, subject to change as we continuously update our models of what's going on. By accepting this, we can make appropriately confident, definite, firm decisions without seeking absolute certainty about anything.
The other main component of our paradigm specification is that we value all beings. We make it a major mission in life to extend compassion/consideration/concern to everyone, caring about and caring for all who exist.
Those are the two major positive principles of this framework. When standards bodies bless components, or more generally, when anyone recommends any set of components or practices, they often simultaneously list previously used components whose functions can be better served by the components being recommended. In other words, they express a preference for choosing certain specified components instead of other specified components. We'll likewise specify one component that we're proposing to discontinue in favor of putting the positive principles into pervasive practice:
A fairly pervasive aspect of the social organization of people, and of many animals, has been a stratification in which some individuals exercise power or authority over others. The will of some is considered to hold sway over the will of others within a group or a territory. There've been many efforts to curtail this tendency, but it's persisted to a degree that warrants its inclusion here.
We'll respect each other's integrity and autonomy. We'll make particularly sure that more intimate experiences, such as sexual and psychedelic experiences, occur only with the informed and enthusiastic participation of everyone concerned.
Please note that the three symbols above were chosen fairly arbitrarily; plenty of other symbols could have been used in their stead. We picked these partly for their simplicity and their familiarity. We advise exercising care not to read meanings into the symbols other than the meanings given. In the case of the eye with the infinity sign, which designates indefinitely growing wisdom, we could use an ear or a brain in place of the eye, or we could use a mushroom, in recognition of the importance of psychedelics and mycelial networks as conduits for information and other resources.
The shape of the pyramid, and the location of the eye near the top, are suggestive of the systematic ways in which "elite" minorities have maintained their status. We're using the pyramid as a metaphor for an even broader phenomenon - any forcible domination or subjugation, anyone using violence or threat of violence against anyone else. Systematic political elitism has been a major form of this phenomenon, but we're proposing to do away with all violence, including violence against those with heretofore elite status.
Having defined the three symbols, we can encapsulate the framework thusly:
We're creatures with capacities for creativity, warmth, strength, etc. Our ancestors and we have exercised these capacities with many marvelous results. Among the clever artifacts we've produced have been philosophical systems, including political and economic systems. We've sometimes lionized these systems and imagined them persisting indefinitely into the future. But in fact, our existence and growth depend on adaptation and invention with regard to all of our artifacts, including these systems.
We're proposing that we use the ample tools and methodologies at our disposal to change our inner and outer realities, to structure our lives and our world around harmony, interconnectedness, mutual appreciation, and so on. Accepting this proposal, deciding to take this path, does not mean, of course, that the entire paradigm shift has been accomplished. There remain many steps to take. But making the decision is a key early step, just as setting a definite intention to undertake a mission to the Moon is an early prerequisite for successfully landing a craft on our little sibling world.
The clever artifacts we've produced demonstrate that we've come a certain distance with the paradigms that have prevailed thus far. It's conceivable that technological capacities could continue to be significantly expanded without a major paradigm shift. But the paradigm shift is important for creating optimal conditions so that these capacities will be put to constructive, rather than destructive, use.
The transition can be smooth and safe. As we're in the process of building consensus, we can mindfully and heartfully continue to participate in systems that will be superseded when the consensus reaches a sufficient level.
So why not up our game? Why not optimize our systems and strategies at the deepest levels?
Adopting, or buying into, the scenario that this framework points toward entails nothing more, and nothing less, than a deep commitment to truth and love. Making and keeping such a commitment isn't necessarily simple, but it's inherently worthwhile, regardless of how many or how few others are walking the same road. As people do it more and more, the new paradigm will become more and more of a reality.
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