The last part of this series was about autonomy. This one is
about togetherness. How on Earth does autonomy lead to togetherness?
Chaos is Simplicity
Systems that appear to be chaotic can actually be quite simple. Likewise, systems that attempt to be simple can end up being wildly overcomplicated.
A system that allows for each part to be autonomous is essentially inviting chaos. There’s no overlord at the top of the system making rules and forcing each piece of the system to behave a certain way. Instead, the pieces govern themselves. You’d think it would follow, then, that the system is bound to be terribly overcomplicated, and it is unlikely to produce much of value.
On the other hand, a system that controls each of its parts demands order. It would seem obvious that such a system would be simple and straightforward. The system says, Here are the rules, and here are the results we desire to produce via these rules. Now follow them.
The reality of these systems is counter-intuitive. The autonomy-based system is actually the simple, elegant one, and the control-based system turns out to be the complex, clunky one.
Here’s an example. I write in a “Write first, organize later” style. This is basically the opposite of the way I was taught to write in school, which was to create an outline that organized the different parts of the essay. The point was to plan first, and then write within the constraints set up in the outline.
These days I write on the fly and create subtitles for each section of the article later. In general, I don’t need to do much editing at all, and it’s not often that I have to change around the order of different parts of the article. Typically the article comes out well-ordered. If I do have to change around the structure of an article, I often do it while I’m in the middle of writing it. While this does require a bit of thought, it still feels relatively automatic: I don’t do this in an incredibly plodding or overly-cranial fashion. I just shoot for flow throughout the article.
This may sound like a relatively disorderly writing process. That’s because it is. However, the end product of this process is a well-ordered, coherent article.
Of course, even the larger process of how I go about improving my writing is rather without order. I just write, edit, share, and then write the next thing. I don’t get a coherent article 100% of the time, but I generally do decently, and sometimes I do pretty damn good. It’s a relatively uncontrolled process, but on the whole it is an elegant system because it produces the result I want: a trend of continual improvement.
What I like about relatively-uncontrolled systems like this is that they have greater freedom to adapt to reality. If I planned out each of my writing topics, say, weeks or months in advance, I might not feel quite as enthusiastic about a particular topic when the time came to write about it. Not only that, but the writing piece might not resonate quite as well with what’s going on in my reality.
I wouldn’t say that I’m reactive, but rather that I ride the wave that is right in front of me. Sometimes I do a bit of pre-planning, but it’s usually quick and only when the project is right on my doorstep. If planning helps me to ride the wave, then I do it. When I feel that planning will only get in the way of the wave, then I allow spontaneity to fill in the empty space. In general, as long as there is a little bit of underlying structure (such as a general purpose that drives my work)- but certainly not a whole lot- spontaneity does a pretty good job.
This is how autonomy lends itself to togetherness. On a micro-level my writing seems somewhat chaotic and it is indeed spontaneous. On a macro-level, however, fast forward 200+ articles and several books and I have a coherent body of work. Each piece in that body of work strengthens and helps to clarify the others. Not only that, but each piece of the system is reliant upon all the others that came before it—otherwise I might not have developed the ideas necessary to create that particular piece. Likewise, each piece is reliant upon all the others that come after it, because each new piece makes the one that came before it that much more substantial and meaningful.
Freedom is Love
The more we run our lives autonomously, living and working on our own terms, the more we enable ourselves to unite, to give to each other, and love each other. How can this be?
Imagine that you are the only human on Earth. A lot of silliness that you know of in our current world would immediately fall away. You’d have no such thing as a reputation. You’d have no one to appease, please, or impress. There would be no one who could hurt you, nor would you have anyone to compete with. There would be very little to keep you from being yourself freely.
Now, imagine that every person lived as though they were the only person on Earth—except, they agreed to do so together.
I’m writing this piece as though I’m the only person on Earth because otherwise fears and doubts and ideas that don’t resonate with this piece start to creep in. At first thought, you might imagine that writing in such a way would produce something horribly dysfunctional and inaccurate. But, just like with the uncontrolled system, in the end I produce a coherent article.
I don’t need someone to tell me what to say. I don’t need someone to command me in order to generate something of value. I’m just doing what I naturally desire to do right now. My life doesn’t depend on it, and no one instructed me to do it. My work is an uncontrolled system. Yet, I will say it again—the end product is not only coherent, but potentially valuable. And I didn’t need to exercise some gargantuan amount of self-control in order to do that. I don’t have a rule book laid out on my desk that’s open to page 303 to make sure that I don’t break that rule ohmygod. I do have certain ways that I like to do things, but I just keep track of those in my mind. It’s automatic. The system doesn’t need to be controlled: it just works.
Think about it: do you need someone to tell you how to have sex? Do you need to be controlled? Maybe if you’re the submissive type, but that’s beside the point here.
Did someone instruct you on how to fall in love? Did anyone command you to do it? My goodness, if that was the case you would find yourself in an abusive relationship.
Love cannot be controlled. Love is freedom. Love between two people is a disorderly system, run by two autonomous parts. And what is the end result? Where there is genuine love, the end product is music, you might say. Growth occurs. Friendship unfolds. Sharing happens. Beauty is created. And no control needed to be imposed upon the parts: they simply did as they naturally desired to do.
I don’t need to explain this to you. You know that you don’t need instructions on how to love another person. The best way to love someone else is to respect yourself by expressing yourself freely.
Why is this? If you inject control into a system, the whole system is affected. It cannot be any other way, because the system as a whole is a single entity.
So, if I start to exercise control over myself, that will inevitably affect you. The internal conflict that is inevitable when a person feels she needs to control herself will make its way to you, somehow. It will contaminate our relationship. It will make things more difficult between us. It will be harder to communicate. And if I hold myself back, that also means that I hold back my ability to love, because the only thing love requires is freedom. Therefore, to the extent to which I either am not autonomous or don’t trust myself to be autonomous, I reduce my ability to love.
A person’s ability to love is directly proportional to the degree of freedom which they experience. When you feel free, you can love easily. Love is your natural state. If you feel trapped, however, you cannot simultaneously feel joyful, nor are you likely to think much of sharing and caring and free self-expression and whatnot.
In the end, the extent of freedom you experience is all a matter of choice: after all, if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t really be freedom, would it? Still, the point remains: in any system or piece thereof, the amount of freedom is the same as the amount of love.
So, when people are living and working autonomously, they will experience freedom, and from this place of freedom they will naturally orient their work in a way that benefits others—much like I am doing here, with this article. Not only that, but people will be joyful enough that they won’t feel any need to put down others in any way. When everyone is benefitting from one another as a result of attending to meaningful tasks they chose to do themselves, there is virtually no economic competition. Where there is no competition, and there instead is abundance, people don’t need to be “kept safe” from one another anymore, because there is no longer a reason for danger.
Think about it: if everyone experienced having everything that they want, would anyone do harm to anybody? No. People attack as a means of defense. People lash out when they experience themselves as lacking something. Anger arises from a sense of powerlessness. If we eliminate the powerlessness that results from a lack of autonomy, and subsequently eliminate the sense of lack that results from separation and competition, what reason will people have to attack one another anymore? I simply cannot think of one.
The Call to Action: Listen and Trust
As for our current situation, I think Donald Trump being president will ultimately lead us to greater unity. The concerns people have expressed about their fellow Americans being somehow hurt are a sign of this. On top of this, the voices of people who have often felt unheard (i.e. working-class people and people in the Midwest) are now being heard, at least indirectly, via Trump’s victory.
What we have to do now is recognize that we all are desiring to be heard. It’s not only the government that we want to be heard by, however—we want to be heard by each other. If we were to all tune in and listen we would find our problems greatly diminished, because many of the problems our nation is experiencing arise from separation between and distrust of one another. As more people steadily choose to conduct themselves intelligently and express themselves freely, we will find that we are readily able to address one another’s concerns and beyond.
If we are to experience togetherness, we must first trust ourselves enough to be autonomous. We must cease to control and command one another. Once we do that, we can cooperate to create the conscious, abundant world that we desire and know we are capable of creating.
Trust yourself, and watch yourself soar. You might just help to bring people together.
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