Thursday, January 18, 2007

Things We Should Avoid

According to Jared Diamond in his book Collapse, the following items are present in the failure of the societies he has studied.
1) "A first set of factors involves damage that people inadvertently inflict on their environment, as already discussed"
2) "A next consideration in my five-point framework is climate change, a term that today we tend to associate with global warming caused by humans."
3) "A third consideration is hostile neighbors."
4) "The fourth set of factors is the converse of the third set: decreased support by friendly neighbors, as opposed to increased attacks by hostile neighbors."
5) "The last set of factors in my five-point framework involves the ubiquitous question of the society's responses to its problems, whether those problems are environmental or not."

Diamond's 560 page book seeks to determine why and how societies fail. The framework that he describes is worth our consideration. Applying the first item in the list we see the need for free and open discussion. When anyone spots a problem that might face us all sooner or later, they should be encouraged to "speak out" about what they are seeing. In a free and open discussion, it is not our job to silence those who are "speaking out" but to determine what they have to say and its possible impact on them and the rest of us.

In a society that says it is interested in free speech and also seeks to limit free speech, there is a problem. Some in our midst tell us that they are not being allowed to speak out. That should alarm all of us. But, it is time consuming and requires that we focus on the problem. If should be clear that basic to the preservation of a society there is high value placed on communication in all directions. Anything that gets in the way of that communication needs to be examined with great care. Then appropriate actions need to be taken. To avoid inadvertent death in our society we need to be free, willing and able to communicate. Anything less than full discussion/communication is to move toward damage to our society caused inadvertently. We must discuss.

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