From the September 2006 Idaho Observer:

Becoming a "reductionist"

For thousands of years, civilizations evolved more naturally and were able to assimilate innovations as they came along. Since the Industrial Revolution, however, changes have been coming so fast (and faster and faster with each passing day) that innovations are not being "assimilated"—they are piling up on top of each other.

As a result, we are not coping well. We only pretend that there is order to the chaos of modern life; we only pretend that we understand what is happening to ourselves, our families, our country and our world. We must expend so much physical energy pretending we know what we are doing and why we are, of necessity, forced to ignore our internal dialogue while it’s screaming at ourselves: "What the hell is going on?!"

Take a deep breath. It doesn’t have to be this way. We learn in grade school that all humans require food, water and shelter to survive. This lesson in reductionism, easily understood in childhood, is just buried in our brains under layers of adulthood.

Within the reductionist framework, we can see the world around us as nearly 7 billion people eating, drinking and sheltering the best they can. The complexities of our modern times are, therefore, a commercial construct designed to exploit humans’ innate quest for more and better food, thirst-quenching beverages and comfortable shelters.

The sooner we can recall and apply a few foundational lessons from childhood, the sooner we can free our minds from being mired in the hopeless complications and contradictions of our contemporary world. One does not read or write without the alphabet and one cannot devise nor solve mathematical equations without numbers. So why would we attempt to solve the riddles of our lives without first understanding the elements that combine to create them?

Since becoming a dissident reporter/investigator 11 years ago, I have found the most effective way to get to the bottom of any "story" is to peel the layers of human words and actions away until you can locate its essential components. Since the first rule of investigative reporting is, "follow the money" and; since (the love of) money is the root of all evil, finding out where money begins flowing solves most mysteries.

Following the money was extremely rewarding as a journalist. But that was just the beginning of my journey into "reductionism." Reductionist thinking requires understanding that all things are collections and combinations of other things and are, thus, the complicated sums of simpler parts. An excellent example is our own physical bodies. While we may view bodies as collections of organs, we can also view them another way: As collections of atoms. Pondering health or illness at the atomic level is more effective because we can identify the roots of health or illness where healthy or diseased organs are merely symptoms of the underlying atomic conditions.

Just for kicks, let’s reduce food, water and shelter to essential elements that help us to better understand them in a contemporary context:

Food: Government and its chartered industries are changing the food supply by managing global food production, supply and distribution to maximize the known political and economic benefits of controlling it. Reduced to its essential elements: Changing an organism’s food supply changes the organism.

Water: Much of the world’s water has been contaminated; what potable water remains is being adulterated, bottled and sold to those who can pay the price. Reduced to its essential elements: Those forced to drink water will suffer the consequences.

Shelter: The credit-based real estate bubble is bursting and, when it goes flat, mortgaged mansioners will be living in what hovels they can daily afford.

Reductionism and the coming "correction"

There is little doubt that our expert-driven, credit/interest-based world is primed for a "correction." One of the largest questions on people’s minds these days is, "How can I best survive the coming collapse?"

Remember musical chairs? There would be, say, eight kids and seven chairs positioned in a circle; the music would be playing, the children would be dancing clockwise inside the circle of chairs and, when the music stopped, we would sit down immediately in the chair closest to us. One kid would be out, a chair removed and the music would start again.

We are now playing adult musical chairs: The music is playing (the systems are functioning) and people are dancing (buying, selling, trading). When the music stops, that is, when the systems cease to function, we will be sitting on what we have to work with.

How will the system fail? Which systems will fail? Under what circumstances will we be living? Which systems will come back online and when—or never? There are so many variables in the equations of modern life that no one can know the answers to those questions. What we have known since childhood, however, is, what we have in our possession and under our control is all that we can count on when the music stops.

Through reductionist thinking we arrive at the best possible way to prepare for global correction or collapse. We can also go back to the point where problems—health, interpersonal, societal, political, economic—begin as the means of solving them.

Though there are "schools" of reductionism, with a little practical application you will become a school unto yourself and capable of reducing your perception of the world around you into terms that promote understanding while minimizing confusion.

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