Embrace the Zeitgeist and Transcend

12 November 2016

I was driving home from work in one of our spectacular Johannesburg summer thunderstorms when it occurred to me that we control very little of our environments and indeed, our lives. Most of our choices are determined by our unique individual history, our nature-nurture heritage. This incorporates the people, the places and the social dynamics of our formative beginnings. Thereafter we engage with people, places and circumstances, perceived through our subjective world view and exercise our choices, again determined by our subjectivity. From the experiences derived from these engagements we fine-tune our subjective world view. However the powerful influences of heritage still prevail, albeit minimally dampened. The whole process therefore conforms very much to Lorenz Chaos Theory: The life narrative is determined very much by its historical starting point but the final outcome is modified by the multiple influences that occur along the life path.

But we live in a psycho-social collective in which there are multiple inputs from many other subjective beings. Everyone gives voice and action to their subjective needs which reflect their individual origins in time and space. And so we encounter a pivotal mediator and dampener of our subjective needs prerogative – we all need to co-operate and conform to ensure that the viability of the system prevails in terms of appeasing the needs of the collective. If we were to apply the best of Complexity Theory to this dynamic, we would ring-fence central ‘sacred’ rules such as respect for life and property and allow the system to self-regulate. But that applies to an ideal world. We don’t live in that space.

Our collective is subject to the interference by others. In summary these influencers include regulating governments, individuals and organizations with material resources and the popular media which invariably become the mouthpiece of the resource-based organizations. In this way, the freedom of the collective to self-regulate is significantly compromised. But more importantly, the subjective world view of the individual members is influenced by the media who often disseminate partial truths or untruths and thereby manipulate an entire belief system.

But there are two more layers to this complexity. It becomes apparent that the collective of humanity is subject to mass psycho-social cycles. Strauss and Howe in their seminal work, The Fourth Turning, have shown how values, beliefs and behaviors undergo cycles in the form of four periods of twenty years in large cycles of eighty years. Each twenty year period can be defined and recognized by the values of its dominant players. We are now in the Fourth Turning of our eighty year cycle. It began with the economic crash of 2008. The hallmark of this Turning is the attack on the Establishment leading to economic hardship, conflict and probable war. It results in the dismantling of the prevailing status quo which sets things up for the re-building of the collective which then marks the beginning of the First Turning of the next cycle. The previous Fourth Turning commenced in 1929, culminating in the rise of Nazi Germany and the 2nd World War ten years later. The following site details an overview of the concept http://www.lifecourse.com/about/method/turnings-introduction.html

The final layer of influence is that which is being studied in the field of magneto-biology, the effects of electromagnetic activity on biological systems and ultimately on human behaviour. I have dealt with this previously in https://www.bebee.com/producer/@ian-weinberg/perhaps-we-ought-to-read-the-stars

In effect, the collective supports the values and dynamics resonant with itself at any given point in time. This can be referred to as the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times. Those that recognize the prevailing fears, aspirations and needs of the collective and thereby engage with the zeitgeist are promoted and succeed with their endeavours. As Victor Hugo stated, “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” (Thoughts of the election of Donald Trump come to mind!)

And so as individuals we have very little influence over outcomes in the multifaceted collective. In so many ways our subjective world view and our choices are influenced by powerful factors beyond our control. To prevail with a degree of personal gratification together with emotional and physical wellbeing we need to transcend subjective feelings of helplessness by seeking clarity and contributing value to our personal spaces. Value contribution is defined as making something better than it was before we engaged with it. Value contribution should be directed to ourselves in order to reach our individual full potential, to our personal environments and to the extended environment. Thereafter, knowing that we have contributed all we can to ourselves and the collective, it is sustaining to embrace a mind state of calmness and trust and also gratitude for the positive and gratifying elements in our lives.


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