Regardless of the exact accuracy of this person's analogy for utilitarian philosophy, I found myself simply thinking about the gaping holes in the story as an example for how society actually works. Namely, the story leaves out the reality of each individual's feelings.
Assuming that an entire culture would believe anything - from "redheads are evil" to "you need to make money" - is ignoring the feelings inside each individual within the culture. The idea of "belief" - to me - implies that you take someone else's story as truth without integrating your direct experience. If society "believes" redheads are evil, it is not founded in anything lasting, because each person's direct experience is not engaged. It is this kind of behavior that has driven human beings to burn people at the stake, instigate wars, and slaughter entire cultures. If an individual has a fear of redheads, it is much more interesting to me to explore the reason for this, and seek Healing. The more utilitarian thing to do, from my perspective, is to provide every individual with appropriate support for their personal growth.... counseling, stability, Love, emotional release, connection to Nature - whatever's best for them - not try to meet their needs by stopping at surface level problem, or by hurting others. Everyone benefits even when only one person has a positive experience - because it reverberates out to every person in their life, and continues to expand through personal relationships.
I imagined myself in conversation with the person about utilitarianism, hoping to offer this viewpoint... and then I shook the image off of myself and thought, How much different would it be, instead, to ask him something like, "Why does this idea make you excited?" (He was excited explaining the things he was learning in class to his friend on the phone, I could hear the positive quality in his voice). I noticed he kept coming back to the ideas in the book, the ideas he was reading, the thoughts associated with what the author had proposed thinking about. But never once in a half an hour did he mention why it was meaningful to Him. I think that's really interesting, because it shows me there's other dimensions to the story I am missing that are probably in there if I were to choose to ask about them, rather than explain only my viewpoint logically.
True Logic - Logic that follows itself all the way to the end and back to nature, not just stopping at the boxes of conventional social norms - will get us to the same places as True Love, Trust, and Intuition, for sure. But in this moment, I realized when we're in the habit of coming at things only from the mind and ignoring our feelings as a valid piece of the picture. When we ignore our feelings, we're missing the part of the story that integrates our emotions, and therefore cannot make truly complete thoughts.
As we move to working with other people in our community to effect change, what if we chose to listen to our friends, family, and neighbors as if we were eavesdropping on a really important conversation? Attentive, without interrupting, without waiting for our 'turn' to respond? What if we chose to listen to the wind in the trees, the sound of the harmony of water traveling down the mountain as a way of informing our directive in Life? And then let our curiosity move us.
The world is worth asking better, more genuine questions, that open up a gateway to the Soul - even in the simplest ways - and that is part of the Revolution we are in the middle of.
Revolutions in the form of uprisings for the last 5000 years at least have usually resulted in replacing the old order of society with enslavement of more masses in an ultimately similar cultural structure in the name of innovation. This happens because people employ their anger against the system they come from without, on the whole, engaging in cultural healing that allows for an evolution in Society. People want things to be different, and yet forget the growth comes from within and then naturally moves outward, together, in new actions that match the new ways of Being. The essence of Revolution desires change, and such changes actually requires a change in consciousness rather than a premature upheaval of existing systems.
This revolution is about connecting rather than distinguishing. We don't need to wait, wish, or fight for change. Revolution in consciousness toward a Universal Thought must be grounded in some sense of personal responsibility in order to be effective. We need only be in touch with our sense of Home and how to then act from this generative Place rather than react to a system that is only broken in certain ways (albeit big ones). Systems need tweaking, rather than completely turning our backs on them. Change is a choice in consciousness and creative action.
Astrologically, this is the very essence of Uranus as a planet: Revolution. Currently, Uranus moves through Aries - so we feel, on a global level, the desire (and action in many areas) for a Revolution NOW. It is good to remind ourselves, Revolution is necessary, but only in a lasting way. NOW, we must commit to a change in our consciousness and find the world dramatically altered each day in a way that moves our hearts. What Uranus (Revolution) really wants is the recognition of the unique, and the changes associated with all such unique moments... so much of this Revolution is about seeing each day as new. We need not entertain ourselves beyond the present moment, already vastly fascinating and calling for our attention.
I have been thinking about the order of the planets in regards to this. After the Revolution (Uranus) and before Death/Rebirth (Pluto) is the Dream - Neptune. Dreams and divine imagination. What does the world we want to live in look like? How does it make us feel?
There's an interesting branch of current Dream research that suggests we create the story associated with our dreams as we're waking up - and the Dream itself is only experienced as feelings when we're sleeping. We create the story with images that we're exposed to in our waking life as a way of translating the feelings into thoughts. A situation, when viewed at a bird's eye - will look the same to hundreds of people, but each individual's experience within the situation is unique. I've listened to many people explain their experience in a traffic jam. Some are calm and understanding. Some have a lot of anger, impatience, some sing, do heart-math exercises, listen to books on tape, play games with the human beings in stopped cars around them, and so on. I have been in community organizing meetings where I was frustrated, and another was fine. When we climbed South Sister Mountain, we passed another hiker complaining to her friend, "There's not any part of this I'm enjoying!!" I was having the time of my life. The situation itself does not determine our feelings. Culture cannot alone determine how we choose to act.
The cool thing about it, is, the only way we can only get to this sequence of Revolution (Uranus), Dream (Neptune), Rebirth (Pluto), is to first pass Saturn - Responsibility - and recognize our power to take responsibility for our lives. We can do anything we want, each day, the question is what do we truly want underneath what we think or are told we might want. And we can engage our personal relationships in a way to positive change universally by attending to these desires - deeper connections, a sense of Place, a feeling of purpose, and so on.
We can imagine (Neptune) a peaceful world, let the experience sink into our body. We can allow ourselves to be joyful, fall in Love, smile at the sunrise, and then let go of the actual image (bird's eye view of the potential situation) associated with the feeling. There's no disappointment involved with dreaming in a new world from a Feelings perspective, as disappointment only happens when the expectation is too specific, relying on happiness only existing if the expectation is met with accuracy. Follow the good feelings. Run after them! Work with them every day! Feeling generate flow. (& Follow the other feelings too, they're teaching you something about your Soul's path and place in the big picture).
Last night, I arrived in Boulder, Colorado. After dark my hosts and I walked to Boulder Creek and I washed my face in the river, feeling the cool flow over my feet and the melody of the water work its way into my bones. So many octaves of sound-gravity pulling the liquid consistently through the landscape. All there is is the sound of the water as every sense. The sound of the Revolution. The sound which has persisted as long as there has been flowing water on this planet.
I'm nervous about my time here, and it's changing me as I examine, shift, change, and work with others. I feel my guts doing 180's as I wonder how to navigate a new city, and I feel on the edge of a new chapter personally. While I was traveling here, I was an orb, I felt, of un-suppressible Joy, protected and supported. Each step of the journey seemed to fall together perfectly, without much planning, and I could feel the Revolution of consciousness unlocking and moving things for me in ways I don't have story for. Every hour, from 6 in the morning, another wave of Joy, until I was walking through the Denver airport, 6 in the evening, laughing out loud. However it all will end up, I know the present moment of inspiration will continue through feeling, not through outcome. Students calling and e-mailing about the course are excited, and I am holding it all in my heart, every ounce of unknown.
I followed up with one of my students from the May Design Course the day before I left for Colorado and I felt extremely inspired by our conversation. She had been talking with her co-workers and friends about her experience in class and developing a foundation within her community by which to talk about Placemaking. She's already started conversations with the city, and came back from Portland so excited, and so has been getting people around her excited. She has not yet had a meeting with her neighbors and she said, "maybe we'll get started in the fall." And I said, "It sounds like you already started!!!" I was impressed by her level of involvement with people in her daily life in the new ideas she's excited about. She's been connecting with people directly about the possibilities and approaching the project in a way that integrates her life. There's no right way to do it, only to move forward through inspiration. Only to commit to our Life.
"Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working." ~ Pablo Picasso