A Bull in the China Shop  (Two)

A Bull in the China Shop (Two)

A Story by Jay Ligda

This was my Senior Project for my Industrial Technology degree. It was originally written in 1991 as an expansion on my original essay written in 1989. See A Bull in the China Shop (One).


During the last five years of the nineteenth century, there began a period of major advances in the scientific field. These advances included, the discovery of the x-ray, the discovery of the electron, the quantum theory of radiation, the model of the atom, the theory of relativity, and the discovery of the neutron and neutron bombardment. These advances changed the way scientists viewed the world. One discovery of profound importance that would effect all life on this planet, was the discovery of the immense amount of energy released when a uranium atom was bombarded with a neutron. The bombardment of one atom could release 200 million electron volts, "enough to make a grain of sand jump" (Szasz, 10). Each reaction releases more neutrons that could bombard additional uranium atoms and set of a chain reaction resulting in the release of an incredible amount of energy.

During the time of this discovery, the world was under threat by Nazi Germany. Not only could this discovery be used as a powerful source of energy, but also for a devastating weapon. One pound of material would equal 15,000 tons of TNT (Szasz, 10). Because of the fear that the Germans might develop the nuclear weapons, in1939 Albert Einstein wrote a letter to president Roosevelt explaining the discovery and its possibilities. At this point, the nuclear science went out of the hands of science and into the hands of bureaucracy.

By September 1941 The Manhattan Project was created for the development of the weapon. Los Alamos, New Mexico was selected for the site where all the scientists working on the project could gather. Originally 30 scientists and their families moved to Los Alamos to work "for the benefit of their country" (Szasz, 18). According to Szasz "By 1944 virtually every American physicist of importance was involved in the project.... It is probably safe to say that never before in the history of the human race have so many brilliant minds been gathered together at one place" (23). Many of these scientists were Nobel prize winners or future Nobel prize winners. Few involved with the project knew exactly what they were working on. For security reasons, jobs were compartmentalized. Each individual had just enough information to carry out their own task. They only knew that they were working on a project "that would help end the war.... They really understood the project only after the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima" (Szasz, 23).

The nuclear bomb development of World War II was the start of the modern day arms race, which in the last 40 years has allowed six trillion four hundred billion dollars to be spent for the purpose of leaning how to kill human beings more efficiently (Fuller, xxiii). Fifty percent of the worlds scientists are also employed at this task. It is a well known fact that we have by far exceeded our capacity to destroy all life on this planet, and yet the military spending for technological advances continues. Currently, thirty-eight billion dollars is going towards Mil-Star, a satellite network designed to conduct nuclear war for six months after the destruction of the U.S. government. Thirty-four billion dollars a year of the Pentagon budget is designated for "unknown activities." The nature of these "activities" are withheld from public trust and protected by government secrecy (Project Censored).

Besides high tech weaponry, technology is being used in other ways that contribute to the mass destruction of human lives. The two things that humans need in order to be capable of killing another human being are: 1) the desensitization of the killer, and 2) the dehumanization of the "enemy." Technology can provide this desensitization by providing the physical distancing of the destroyer to the destroyee. It is much easier for us to pull a trigger to "defend freedom," "promote democracy." or "end the war" when we do not have to witness the terror and suffering of the victims on the other end of that trigger. This need for psychological distancing was understood by the Nazi's in Germany. According to Richard Rubenstein in his book The Cunning of History, "SS leaders were concerned about the psychological effect of the shooting [of the Jews] on the killers.... Finally, the mass gas chamber utilizing Zyklon B was put to use" (46). Technology has enabled the dehumanization of the "enemy" by the spreading of propaganda through the radio and television.

Technology is abused in support of wars whose purpose is protecting our ideology. To gain support for ideology, technology is put into effect raping the planet of its resources, thereby providing certain standards of living that "prove" the superiority of one ideology over the next. Our consumer addicted society is trapped in this cycle that feeds an ever growing misuse of technology.

Technology is inanimate, therefore it can not be held responsible for it's own abuse. A plastic bag can be used to preserve our food as well as to suffocate a person. Television can be used to educate the masses or it can be used to spread propaganda. A discovery in physics can be used for a cleaner source of energy or as a life threatening weapon. We humans have a choice as to how we use it. The choices that we make depend on our values. Our propensity for destruction reflects our lack of awareness necessary for developing life-supporting values. Erich Fromm defines awareness as "doing away with illusion" (66). To do away with illusion one must develop the ability to evolve an ever expanding perception of reality. This perception must include: the reality of who we are and what we need, the reality of how we evolved to our present state and where we might be headed, the reality of other ideologies on this planet, both past and present, and the effects of these ideologies on each other.

Here I intend to examine these issues with the hope that we can gain a deeper understanding of our humanity while pointing out the vital role technology plays in our developing humanity. Our technology is a bull in a china shop. Our values are the leash that will keep the bull from running rampant leaving destruction in its path. The rate of development in technology far exceeds that of our development of humane values. The leash has broken! We must construct a leash capable of matching the growth of the bull. Erich Fromm articulates well the present crisis of humanity: "There is no denying the fact that the history of man is a history of growing awareness.... and the crucial question is whether the destructive power which his present knowledge has given him will permit him to go on extending this knowledge to an extent which is unimaginable today, or weather he will destroy himself before he can build an ever-fuller picture of reality on the present foundations" (67).



According to Darwin's theory of evolution, in order for a species to evolve it requires a certain event to occur. A mutation must take place in one of the offspring that gives it a special characteristic that its parents did not have. These mutations occur by a cross-over in the chromosomes confusing the genetic information. This new characteristic can make it either more or less adaptable to the environment. The more adaptable, the more likely it will successfully pass its gene carrying the new characteristic, to more offspring. If less adaptable, then the offspring will have less chance of passing the characteristic to offspring and it will disappear from the gene pool. This process is called survival of the fittest; where the species evolve more fit to live in their environment.

Many thousands of years ago, a certain species was affected in an unusual way by this evolutionary process. This was an ape-like creature that walked on all fours, occasionally just its hinds. On its front legs evolved a special characteristic called hands. These hands were equipped with fingers that helped it grasp things and manipulate its environment. Hands greatly increased its chance for survival, thus they were kept by the evolutionary process. As it increased the usage of its hand, it spent less time on all fours and slowly evolved onto its hind legs. This was the early ancestor of we, the human being.

The early human being lived nomadically, following its migrating food source and seeking shelter throughout the seasons. The nomadic life required early humans to be able to respond to a variety of life threatening situations presented by their ever-changing landscape. Therefore the individuals that were able to establish cause-effect relationships in the environment would have a greater chance of decision making necessary for survival. Decision making can take place because of the enlarged neocortex of the brain. The individuals with the more developed, complex brains were more apt to create tools that would enhance their survival.

Tool use had its effect on the evolutionary process. Those individuals with greater thinking abilities might survive, where previously, those with physical superiority were the more successful ones. Thus, humans evolved who were dependant on tools for their very survival; no longer were they capable of living by nature alone.

As humans continued to evolve, the more complex brains enabled them to evolve common sounds into language, enabling them to communicate. Language enabled the building of ideals that increased their ability manipulate the environment. To illustrate: Perhaps one day an early human noticed how the spot where he/she had seen a small pod fall from a tree, a plant now grew. Upon communicating this the group, they realized that they could copy this phenomena and cultivate their own food. They began watching the vegetation around them more closely to see how the "miracle" worked. Another individual noticed that after rains or flooding, sprouts appeared. After several trial and error attempts, they invented agriculture. Tools enabled these developments by providing early humans a means to dig, carry water, and harvest crops.

Anthropologist have noticed, wherever the phenomena of seeds growing could be witnessed, indigenous cultures developed some form of agriculture. Nomadic humans were always trying to seek shelter as they followed the herds. They prefered to stay in areas of abundance where they could be protected from the elements. Agriculture allowed them to do this. Being settled in a secure environment, they didn't have to spend as much of their energy on survival, they could now spend their energy on the other matters that their thinking and creative brains allowed them.



In his book The Revolution of Hope, Erich Fromm states that there are two conditions that separate us from other animals. First, the "decrease of instinctual determinism the higher we go in evolution, reaching the lowest point in man, in whom the force of instinctual determinism moves towards the zero end of the scale" (62). What this means is that, unlike animals, we have no instinctual rules to live by. We have to make our own decisions as to how we live our lives, never knowing whether our actions will result in failure. This creates insecurity. According to Fromm, "the price man pays for consciousness is insecurity" (62). The second condition is the "tremendous increase in the size and complexity of the brain compared to body weight... This enlarged neocortex is the basis of awareness, imagination, and all of those facilities such as speech and symbol making which characterize the human existence" (63). Through this awareness we realize our existence as separate entities from others and the environment. Although these conditions cause suffering, there is also the potential to experience freedom and joy through the ability to think for ourselves and explore our creativity.

Fromm explains how humans need "to have a frame of orientation which permits [us] to organize a consistent picture of the world as a condition for consistent action" in order to counteract the insecurity and loneliness (63). Without this orientation we will tend to go insane. We develop this picture in different ways, and according to Fromm "some are better than others. By 'better' is meant a way conducive to greater strength, clarity, joy, independence; and by 'worse' the opposite" (63). The degree to which this picture is better or worse depends on the amount of personal energy that we as individuals are willing to put into its development.

For many, the prefered way seems to be to let somebody else do it for them. This is done by placing faith in some religious, political or social ideology. This ideology usually provides an explanation of the universe and a set of rules to live by which are brought through individuals believed to have divine power, and therefore is possession of knowledge that the rest do not have. We are "only too eager to believe" for it takes the insecurity off our shoulders and cures our loneliness by providing a sense of belonging.

Pure faith in ideology presents problems. By giving up our humanity to an ideology, we lose our ability to think for ourselves, and therefore our creativity and freedom to experience our potential as human beings. We give up our humanity for a the sake of security. This security, however, is false because any opposing ideology threatens that security. Separate ideologies may claim that the path to salvation lies in following their own different Messiahs. These both couldn't possibly be correct. Ethnocentrism is developed as a defense mechanism designed to protect our security. From this ethnocentrism stems the abuse of technology. Wars are waged and technology is abused by serving to protect false views of the world rather than to aid the expansion of our awareness.

A more productive means to develop our world picture is by expanding our awareness to encompass as much of reality as we have access to. We must be able understand and accept opposing ideology. Only then will we be able to experience the freedom and joy of our humanity. By discovering meaning in our humanity we will develop humane values. By courageously accepting our insecurity rather than fighting it, we will begin to understand our potential.

If values are passed down to us from some authority, such as a church, our parents, or a political group, and we feel our humanity is not being fulfilled, frustration will result and we will tend to rebel against that authority to experience the humanity we desire. Such a rebellion could eventually lead to experiencing our humanity, however, if the source of our frustration is not understood we risk rejecting values that are crucial to truly understanding our humanity. This will lead to further destruction of our humanity.

In his book The Different Drum, psychoanalyst Scott Peck explains the four stages of spiritual growth for an individual. The first stage is chaotic in which people are incapable of loving. They are unprincipled and self-serving. Most children are in this stage, and according to Peck, one in five adults. When people become aware of the chaos in their lives they may transfer to the second stage, the formal. Here people will adhere to institutions for rules to live by. These institutions could be religious, political, military, corporate, etc. People "are in fact so attached to the cannons and the liturgy that they become very upset if changes are made..." (Peck, 190). Their authority figures are almost always external with punitive powers. Stage three occurs when one becomes skeptical of the authority of the institution and start seeking the truth on their own. The fourth stage is that of the mystic. Here individuals begin to recognize the interconnectedness of all matter in the universe. They realize the enormity of the universe and understand that they can not in fact understand it. They are no longer afraid of the mystery.

Peck's stages of spiritual growth support Fromm's explanation of humanity. Stage two takes over stage one to relieve the insecurity of the chaos, stage three takes over stage two when one rebels against authority and seeks their humanity, and stage four takes over stage three when one becomes comfortable and secure by their own efforts and will understand the interdependence of the universe and will be capable of developing humane values.



One may ask: "Why is it that we are so willing to give up our humanity for security"? "Why is it that we blindly follow our often corrupt leaders causing a great deal of spiritual torment, when the solution lies in our individual freedom?"

One answer is that we simply do not understand our humanity. Instead of understanding, we create scapegoats to bear the burden of our suffering. The Buddhists say that trying to teach humanity is similar to a frog trying to explain to the tadpole what land is like; the tadpole has no basis for the comparison because its reality is limited to the water and it can not see the fuller picture of reality that includes land.

Another answer is that in order for us to expand our awareness, we would have to constantly face our insecurity and challenge our identity, which is a great deal of work and causes suffering. It is much easier for us to follow the beaten path. In his book The Road Less Traveled, Scott Peck talks about human laziness being equivalent to the force of entropy "pushing us down and holding us all back from our spiritual evolution" (273). We will do almost anything to prevent from facing the fear involved with our growth. This phenomena, Erich Fromm calls our "escape from freedom." We will continue this escape from freedom until the suffering caused by not experiencing the freedom exceeds the suffering that growth may cause. Just as in physics, an object under two opposing forces will move in the direction of the greater force, humans will move in the direction of the least amount of suffering. The result, according to Erich Fromm is that man "remains a child when he should become an adult" (69).

The opposing force to entropy, is syntropy, the force guiding us in evolution. Peck calls this force "love," which he defines as: "The will to extend one's self for the purpose of nurturing one's own or another's spiritual growth" (81).

It can be understood that everybody on this planet is doing the best that they can with what they have. If we as individuals want to see others act more humanely we must be able to understand what it is that they are missing and provide it for them. The only way that can be done is through our understanding of our own selves. Our often-corrupt leaders seem to be missing wisdom and/or courage. No matter how angry or disillusioned we become with them, by attacking them, we just back them back up against a wall where they have no choice but to fight their way out. They need to be provided with the understanding and support so they may develop this wisdom and courage.

Only through love and support will we lessen the suffering of growth, and thereby allow a greater chance of movement in that direction. Without this love and support, we will be forced into short term solutions to our suffering resulting in greed, addictions, and hatred.


Anthropologists have discovered that whenever groups of humans come into contact with another resulting in conflict, there is a greater chance of civilization. The groups involved would need to "build walls" to aid in their defense. The region of the Mediterranean, thought to be the birthplace of Western civilization, is surrounded with bodies of water: The Mediterranean Sea, the Arabian Sea, the Persian Gulf, the Black Sea, The Caspian Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the possible existence of an early Suez canal creating the wide use of sea-faring technologies in this region. This increased use of boats and ships brought about greater interaction between cultures in this area. Civilization flourished. Empires expanded and fell.

During the Roman Empire, under the rule of Constantine in the fourth century, the Christian religion was adopted as the official religion. The Roman Catholic Church was spread throughout Europe. The church provided a set of rules and guidelines for people to live by as well as explanations of the nature of life and the universe. Ultimate authority was passed down from an omnipotent god through the Pope and an extensive hierarchy down to the common people. This religious belief was based on faith that the omnipotent god did in fact exist and therefore planted the seeds of a highly ethnocentric cultural identity.

After the Middle ages, there began a change in the way of thought in Western culture. This period became known as the Enlightenment, the process of secularization. Economic and political systems lead the people and undermine the authority of the church. The Enlightenment included "a culmination of attempts to provide a universally valid approach to the explanation of the world and of man in the world, for which the theological approach of the medieval mind ... had proved increasingly inadequate" (Gagliaro, 1). Societies breaking away from traditional institutions have been seen from time to time in history, but unique to this era is that the reform was taking place simultaneously throughout Europe. Late in the fifteenth century, the printing press was introduced. Before the printing press, because of the scarcity of printed material, the sharing of material could only be done by the elite. Knowledge and ideas could now be shared with the masses.

Not only were ideas now being shared in greater abundance, but also, commerce was flourishing. The peasant classes noticed the wealth and luxury goods being enjoyed by the aristocracy and the clergy. No longer tied to the church for survival and able to produce tradable goods by their own craftsmanship, the poverty class resented the authority of the church, lost faith, and placed their faith in political and economic systems that could bring them wealth and power. They no longer believed that rewards should come only in the after-life. The idea of making money became their god.

By breaking away from the church, they lost their sets of rules to live by as well as their explanation of the universe. Many of the philosopher/ scientists still held a firm belief in the mystical forces of the universe that couldn't be explained. However, in order for an explanation to be universally acceptable, it had to be proven, communicated to others, and canonized in written laws. Science took over as religion and mathematics was the language by which the world could be explained. Mathematics, however, could not recognize the internal qualities of humans such as feelings, reason, and the desire for freedom; those very qualities that make humans human and allow us to develop life supporting values. Amongst conflicts between schools of thought, science achieved final authority as an explanation of the universe. The result was disenchantment which occurs when "there are no mysterious forces that come into play but rather one can, in principle, master all things by calculation" (Weber quoted from Rubenstein, 28).

This scientific revolution changed the face of technology for it was no longer empirical, based on observation alone. Now, with mathematical models, our understanding of the physical environment increased and so did our ability to manipulate it. Technology could now provide better tools which in turn could aid in the testing of scientific theories. The science/technology explosion began, leaving the development of humane values behind.

Here, the parallels between Western development and our discussion of human behavior can be seen. Western society rebelled against an authoritarian figure because their humanity wasn't being satisfied. However, instead of understanding the cause of their rebellion, they plunged into a self destructive path seeking short term solutions for their suffering that included the accumulation of wealth, thinking that this would cure the lack of humanity. The question is did we pass from stage two, the formal, to stage three, the skeptical and does that mean we are heading for the mystical stage four and a more caring society? Or did we pass from stage two, formal, to the chaos of stage one again?

This parallel can be further supported by studying the Eastern philosophies where science didn't emerge until it was imported from the West. In contrast to the Western schools of thought, the Eastern philosophies have lasted for thousands of years. There has never occurred a major philosophical rebellion in the East as compared to the West.

The Eastern philosophies almost never include a creation myth, therefore they view the world as having no beginning of time, and it follows, no end of time. Their concept of the universe is that it operates in cycles, always regenerating. They see the universe as having no explanation, therefore, no explanation is not sought. Nature is viewed as unconquerable, and so there is no reason to try to conquer it.

The goal in Eastern thought is for the individual to achieve inner peace, therefore, the struggle to understand life and create values, is done internally by each individual. Many of these philosophies involve some idea of reincarnation. If an individual is not virtuous, they will create negative karma that will follow them through lifetimes and will eventually have to be dealt with. The individual is not being punished by an external authority, but rather by the result of their own actions. There is no need for rebellion because there no external authority to rebel from. People develop humane values by searching their own selves.

Eastern philosophies develop their own set of problems, despite their value developing nature. However, introducing some of their ways of dealing with life's questions might provide the West with alternatives that could help heal society's wounds. Eastern philosophies seem to have a greater understanding of humanity, while Western philosophies seek a greater understanding of the physical universe. We need both to live in peace on this planet.



With the secularization of Western society, the administration of society was taken out of the hands of religious systems and became the bureacratic machine of the political systems. The result was that now social organization was practiced with the absence of spiritual, humane values. According to Max Weber, the characteristics of bureaucracy are: 1) it is based on a hierarchy of authority, with several levels of supervisors and subordinates. This is the chain of command. 2) there exist a large degree of specialization. 3) the bureaucracy operates from a set of rules that are written down in some form of documentation.

The hierarchy of authority characteristic of bureaucracy helps to create what Erich Fromm, in his book Man for Himself, calls the "marketing orientation. " An orientation is the way an individual relates to the world. The marketing orientation is where one views oneself as a commodity to be bought and sold in the market place; this particular market place being the bureaucracy. A great deal of security, both economic and that of self image, becomes tied with whether or not we are salable in the market place. Our salability becomes our measure of success. Our value is not judged by humane characteristics, but wether or not we have salable characteristics. Thus, a "person is not concerned with life and happiness, but with becoming salable" (78). As a result we spend our lives producing an image rather than exploring our humanity.

In this market place, a great deal of competition emerges, and we begin to view others as a threat to our personal security. We isolate ourselves from others, threatening our ability to love, and in effect experience our humanity. Under this system, individuals who rise to the top have usually been required to act ruthlessly and make inhumane decisions and are probably the least capable of making humane decisions. Such people are probably reacting to the world from stage one in Peck's stages of spiritual growth.

The consequences of the marketing orientation are, first in order to further guarantee our "success" we give in to the authority of those that are higher on the bureaucratic ladder. Once again we are submitting to a external authority. Second, we are more prone to immoral action and third, we become more prone to specialization.

Because of the nature of bureaucracy, we are bound to be faced with a situation where we are asked by our authority figure to engage in an immoral act. At that point we are faced with the decision of whether we will engage in the act, or risk our career and our "security" by refusing. We will almost always engage in the immoral act. The system provides many ways that we can free our selves from the guilt of performing the act. One way is by simply passing the responsibility onto our authority figure. Studies have been done in which a person was seen to be willing to administer painful electric shocks to an unseen person in the next room when instructed by the present authority. They would continue to do this "no matter how loud the screams were." Another important way guilt is eliminated is by excluding the victims from the "moral universe." This was done to the Jews in Germany. The Jews were viewed as an inferior race that had no right to exist. This "moral exclusion" is also done to the environment when we view humans as superior to nature with right to use/abuse it at our will.

The second component of bureaucracy is specialization. Both Scott Peck and Buckminster Fuller warn us of the dangers of specialization. Peck says, "I am thoroughly convinced that much of the evil of our times is related to specialization and we desperately need to develop an attitude of suspicious caution towards it" (Peck, 1983, p. 217). Fuller says that because of specialization "individual humans are now helplessly inarticulate in the face of the present crisis. They consider their political representation to be completely corrupted, therefore they feel almost utterly helpless" (Fuller, xxviii).

The idea that sells us into specialization is that it breeds wealth. If we could focus our energies in one field of study, then we are able to penetrate deeper into this field. Our combined work with other specialists has great potential. We must then put our faith in leaders to guide us. These leaders, who most seem to be self serving, use specialization to breed ignorance so they may pursue their own interests without the problem of being constantly questioned. This idea of specialization breeds ignorance because by looking only at the picture close up, we cannot see what the whole picture is about.

With the degree of knowledge our specialists have developed and the computer technology that aids in the organization and presentation of material, one can now in a short time understand what this work is all about. Researchers and students can now move across the spectrum and start to understand a greater picture of reality.

The last component of bureaucracy is that it operates from a set of rules that are written down in some form of documentation. In the discussion of western development, we saw how in breaking away from the church we lost our sets of life-supporting values and money became god. The systems that we put our faith in were ones that promised wealth. Therefore, cannons put forth by bureaucracy are those that support material progress and do not promote any value for life at all. Decisions are made and passed down through the hierarchy, and the specialists who follow their orders and with blind faith, cut trees, build bombs, destroy ozone, and kill people, abusing technology all along the way. The perfect bureaucracy operates like a machine, each independent part unaware of the whole, completely dehumanized.

An example of the perfect bureaucratic system in operation was witnessed in Nazi Germany. The leader, Hitler, had a job to do, pull the German people out of their economic depression. To do this he needed a scapegoat. The Jews were historically abused and a well hated people. They would be held responsible for the problems of Germany. This could be done through assimilation, exportation, or "the final solution." "The destruction process required the cooperation of every sector of German society" (Rubenstein, 4). Police were used to gather up Jews, the railroads were used to transport them to the camps that were built by construction workers, corporations helped by dismissing Jewish employees. Gas chambers and furnaces were designed and built, and chemicals developed to kill efficiently. Towns neighboring the death camps kept quiet, and even the "Jewish communal organizations everywhere were transformed into functioning components of the German bureaucratic mechanism devoted to the 'final solution'" (Rubenstein, 74).




If science is indeed our religion, it seems only right that we be kept informed with the latest scientific discoveries or else we lose touch with our explanation of the universe. It is interesting that modern physics is now echoing what Eastern philosophies have been saying about the nature of the universe for millenniums. Amongst the books published on the subject are, The Tao of Physics, by Fritjof Capra, and The Dancing Wu Li Masters, By Gary Zukav.

Capra explains how both Eastern mystics and Western physicists are struggling with concepts that are beyond language "...when they do so [communicate] with words their statements are paradoxical and full of logical contradictions" (33). Eastern mystics and now Western physicists speak about the unity of all things. The Eastern mystic Nagarjuna is quoted saying, "Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependants and are nothing in themselves" (Capra 125), and in Western physics, Capra tells us how "quantum theory forces us to see the universe not as a collection of physical objects, but rather as a complicated web of relation between the various parts of the unified whole" (124).

The goal of science is to achieve pure objectivity in the experimental process. However, physicists are starting to realize that their very presence effects their operations, participation is unavoidable despite the traditional assertions to the contrary. Heisenberg's uncertainty principle says that both particle position and momentum "can never be measured simultaneously with precision" due to the effects that the measuring apparatus has on one or the other (127). Eastern mystics say "this universal interwovenness always includes the human observer and his or her consciousness" (126).

Both Einstein and the Buddha speak of space-time, the fact that space and time are not separate from each other but rather they depend on each other creating a fourth dimensional universe. This concept of space-time in Einstein's theory of relativity says that space does not extend forever, but rather folds back on itself creating a fourth dimensional sphere. This introduces to the West the cyclic nature of the universe that the Eastern mystics have been describing for thousands of years.

Theses are only a few examples of the parallels discussed in Capra's book. It is becoming very clear that by searching for a universally acceptable answer to the universe, we are discovering that it cannot be understood, yet another thing the Eastern philosophies have been saying for millenniums. While learning evermore ways to manipulate the environment and thus developing important technologies such as the computer, airplanes, and television, we are reintroducing mysticism and beginning the reenchantment of the world. Max Weber has been quoted saying disenchantment occurs when "there are no mysterious forces that come into play, but rather that one can, in principle, master all things by calculation" (Rubenstein, 28). While objective-oriented science had originally had the power to disenchant the world, it now has the power to reenchant it, and so begin the healing process.

If in fact modern physics has the potential to reenchant the world through mystery, it follows that our education system should incorporate as an important part of its curriculum. The information is available in language that almost anyone can comprehend, and now it is just a matter of society realizing its importance. Stephen Hawking's book, A Brief History of Time would be a good beginning for opening peoples minds to the mysticism of science.


Synergetics was introduced by Buckminster Fuller as an "elegantly simple and popularly comprehensible" study of the physical universe. Synergetics uses "nature's coordinate system" as opposed to "the mathematical coordinate system that ... is not the coordinate system employed by the physical universe" (Fuller, xxvii). The study of synergetics will allow us to build on our present understanding of the physical universe and enable us to accomplish "more with less." The geodesic dome was invented through this system. The geodesic dome is the most efficient way to enclose space, such as a house, factory, or a city. Because of its design the geodesic dome can be built to any size, is virtually earthquake-proof, and uses about one-fiftieth of the material required for conventional framing. This would never have been developed without synergetics. Economics

In our current system of economics, our deification money has created a state breeding competition, greed, and hatred. Money started out as a medium to exchange wealth. It now has become "wealth" itself. studying economics reveal that money doesn't actually represent actual wealth, but in fact the value of currency is totally arbitrary. The Federal Reserve can create or eliminate as much money from the economic system as it sees fit, and the law of supply and demand keeps the price of goods as high as the amount of money in the system therefore we are never really enabled to develop a "common wealth" based on life-supporting resources, the only real wealth of the planet.

If we continue to deify money, let us at least adopt a system which represents true wealth. In his book The Critical Path, Buckminster Fuller states that real "wealth consists of physical energy ... combined with metaphysical know-what and know-how" (198). The two sources of physical energy income for this planet are the sun and gravity. If money is going to represent wealth, perhaps it should coincide with these sources of wealth. Fuller developed the concept of "cosmic accounting" where one cent would equal one kilowatt of energy. If we wanted to cut down a tree, the price of that tree would include the cost of all the energy that went into producing that tree. If we wanted to continue to burn oil, the price of that oil would include the cost of all the energy it took the universe to create that oil. With this system one gallon of gasoline would cost one million dollars. That is not counting the energy that went into the creation of the ozone layer that is destroyed by fuel exhaust. Oil is expensive!

Certainly after adopting such a system we would be forced to employ appropriate technologies to eliminate pollutants and to requalify our entire industrial store. Fuller also suggests a world energy grid that could connect the worlds energy source, thereby enabling the daytime time half of the world to take advantage of the energy that is not being used on the nighttime half. These technologies and many more like them are not being put into use because they are "to expensive" or "not economically feasible," and more important they challenge the economically based political system itself. This system would enable us to remove the blood clot blocking human potential that the capitalist system has created, and allow us to be able to take care of every one at "higher standards of living than any have ever known" (Fuller, xxv). Humanity

One reason individuals fail to grow in awareness is from the lack of support. The presence of true community is the cure for lack of support. It takes more than simply a church, a neighborhood, a fraternity, or a club to create true community. Real community exists where the individuals involved can communicate with true honesty with each other. In current situations, communities are made up of individuals that are afraid to be honest about their thoughts and feelings with each other.

In his book The Different Drum, Scott Peck outlines the factors that make a group a community. The first is that it is a group of all leaders instead of one leader or no leaders at all. All the members are responsible for the direction of the group, and decisions are made by consensus. The second is inclusivity. Groups that exclude people do so because they are afraid their ideas will be challenged. In these cases groups are "actually defense bastions against community" (61). Real communities cherish the differences of opinion, therefore, they transcend the fear created by differences. And so the group creates an atmosphere in which the members feel safe to be their selves without the fear of being open, vulnerable or afraid. "It takes a great deal of work for a group of strangers to achieve the safety of true community," says Peck, and once they do they know they are in an environment where they "will be listened to and accepted for themselves, years and years of pent-up frustration and hurt and guilt and grief come pouring out" (67).

Community not only provides the support that can help us develop human values, but it also creates a powerful decision making body. Because all its members participate as leaders, there is no one dominant opinion. Because of the amount of honesty, the group does not fall victim to "group think," where members adopt the opinion that they feel would be accepted by the group. This diversity enables a wide range of options to be explored before a decision is reached. The result is a more complete and realistic solution to problems. This phenomena of more powerful solutions being reached by a group is known as synergy.

Synergy can be explained as the result of the whole system being greater than the sum of its individual parts. Thus, groups can achieve greater results that individuals. Synergy is what we witnessed with our scientist friends in Los Alamos creating a complex weapon, and with our ancestors discovering agriculture. Without synergy, I would never be able to grasp the concepts that allow me to write this paper. Without synergy none of us would be able to survive on this planet.

Perhaps if during World War II, the scientist and government were able to work in true community, such a gathering of brilliant minds as the one in Los Alamos would include the most brilliant psychologists, economists, sociologists, and historians as well as scientists working on a more humane solution to the problem of war. Perhaps someday we will be able to incorporate community into all of the major decision making bodies of the world, thus allowing humanity into solutions. As Peck points out, "in and through community lies the salvation of the world" (17).



Technology is a vital tool for our expansion of human awareness. We will never achieve world peace without it. It has played an important role in our growth to date. First tool use coincided with the development of our more complex brains. The invention of the ship allowed our early travelers to discover each others civilizations. The invention of the printing press allowed what was previously available to a privileged few to be shared with the greater numbers. Today, the airplane allows transportation around the world with increasing ease. The computer, television and satellites allow instant communication around the globe that is vital to our understanding of other cultures. Space programs have provided us with pictures of the Earth as it looks from space, which has had the profound effect of showing us the world the as it is, with no political boundaries. Technology has caused the world to shrink and no longer are we protected from the "other" by time and distance. We can no longer turn our backs on opposing ideologies. Our challenge is to overcome our insecurity and truly understand that we are not Americans, Soviets, Catholic, Buddhist, capitalist, or Communist, but simply human beings.

Buckminster Fuller said, "I must commit myself to reforming the environment and not man; being absolutely confident that if you give man the right environment he will behave favorably" (Synder, 39). However, Bucky, we are never going to adopt your dymaxion environment unless we can accept the challenge of change. Fromm speaks of mankind: "the more he can grasp reality on his own and not only as a datum with which society provides him, the more secure he feels because ... the less threatened [he is] by social change" (66). Through individuals, grass roots and other political organizations, educators and religious leaders, we must move towards a truer picture of reality, for the less threatened we are by social change, the more willing we will be channel the potentially destructive powers of technology into life-supporting technologies to create a humane a lasting co-existence of humanity and it's planetary home.


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© 2008 Jay Ligda

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Added on August 14, 2008
Last Updated on August 14, 2008


Jay Ligda
Jay Ligda

San Francisco, CA

I mainly write as a way to clear my mind of unwanted thoughts. Most of it is too personal or rough to publish here, but here is some that I polished up to share. more..