Vision and Reality

Ideals for Utopias rarely meet up with the reality.  Nonetheless we need a "vision" in order to succeed at anything difficult. 

by Robert "Doc" Hall, Compression Institute

Robert Owens had a grand vision for New Harmony, pictured at the left.  His vision brought in intellectuals to a farm community, and failed. The reality is likely more like the typical farmhouse of the time at the right.  His vision was important, because it united people behind a thought for a new kind of future, and that thought created changes that Mr. Owens could not have foreseen.

But a very significant social shift is apt to be toward more community-centered social units and toward more personal responsibility for those around us and for the planet. That is a prescription for building a new "middle class" on a different basis, beginning where we are with what we have.

To do this we need a major movement in communities to develop clarity of thinking about where we are going and how to resolve our problems getting there. This new world promises to be one in which life is often disrupted by storms, flooding, drought, fire, etc. Creating communities that are both physically and socially robust in recurring disasters is also going to shape how we socially evolve. make this transformation, we need to use our "optimism biases" wisely. Optimism bias is underestimating risks of negative events - thinking that "it" can't happen to me. Tali Sharot and other researchers on optimism bias consider it to be psychologically necessary for our survival. In bad circumstances it motivate us to persist with difficult challenges.

However, optimism bias also creates euphoric bubbles, and an inclination to ignore facts that pop them. Consequently, we ignore evidence until crisis envelops us. Tali Sharot notes how a double case of this led to the misery of WWII. Stalin, trusting that Hitler would not invade the Soviet Union, ignored intelligence that nailed the exact date. In turn, Hitler in his exuberance blew off warnings that the invasion would be, not easy, but a slog in bitter cold winter.

In retrospect, maybe Hitler and Stalin deserved each other, but the rest of us deserved better than to be dragged into the consequences of their psychoses. With pragmatic effort, maybe we can make a positive vision triumph over misplaced nostalgia for a world that is going away. And that is why we propose a world full of "vigorous learning organizations" that employ Compression Thinking.