What is a culture but a collection of systems commonly shared within a group of people?
What is a system but an organized set of rules, a set of norms, usually arbitrary, arranged and followed for a purpose?
Language is a system. We agree to certain grammatical rules and standards. The symbols we use to convey sound and meaning are arbitrary. The important part is that we all agree on the symbols and their use. That allows us to achieve the goal, which is communication.
Systems are never perfect.
Systems almost always contain many arbitrary elements and guidelines which exist just because we have to agree on some basics in order to get anything done.
Systems outgrow their original purpose. Often.
Systems often present as having one goal when their true purpose is to achieve a very different goal. Think of “goal presentation” as the systems version of marketing.
Would you be all gung-ho for a political system that marketed itself this way: “The political system that will continually ignore what the majority of the people need and value in order to provide a small group of people will ever-extending power.”
No, no you would not. (Not unless you had a guaranteed spot in that small group.)
But how about a political system that promises this: “A political system that is based on democratic values and is of the people, for the people, and by the people!”
Marketing is important for systems.
Systems tend to grow into mutant beasts that exist for their own sake.
Systems are the AI/robot apocalyptic take-over that we all fear (apparently, based on the number of sci-fi movies with this plot line).
Humans create systems to serve a purpose, to help us (humanity) achieve some goal.
We write the rules (the code), we set the processes and resources in place, we recruit people to be part of the system so that, together, we can all achieve this goal.
The system grinds into action and keeps rolling along. Some of it works as expected. Some of it does not. Some of it has dependences and repercussions we never expected.
The goal may or may not be achieved.
The system keeps rolling along, growing as more and more people participate in it.
Soon the system takes on a life of its own.
We forget the goal it is supposed to help us achieve.
We forget that we created the system in the first place.
We get lost in the system. It gets so big that most people forget there is anything outside of the system.
They forget they can opt in or opt out. They’re no longer voluntarily participating in a system. They are dependent on a system, enslaved to a system, unable to comprehend life outside the system.
The system no longer serves the people. The people now serve the system.
Systems need to be
Most people inside the system don’t enjoy it when systems are dismantled and destroyed. It feels, to them, like reality is crumbling and everything is falling apart.
Some people inside the system (the ones who are suffering because of the system) may want the system to change but still be scared of that change. They’ll avoid, ignore, defend, pretend things are okay. If they’re still inside the system, if they can’t comprehend life outside of it, can’t see a way to survive without it, that’s understandable, isn’t it? If you think the system is reality, then to destroy the system is to destroy yourself. Our very nature cries out for survival, even when that survival is painful.
Some people inside the system (the ones who are benefitting because of the system) will fight, with all of their power, anything that threatens the system. If they’re still inside the system, if they can’t comprehend life outside of it, can’t see a way to survive without it, that’s understandable, isn’t it? If you think the system is reality, then to destroy the system is to destroy yourself. Our very nature cries out for survival, even when that survival hurts others.
Other people are conscious of the system being a system. They see its limits. They understand that the system is not reality. It is a structure imposed upon reality.
They understand that changing the system is always an option.
They understand that the way things are is not the way things have to be.
These are the people who see the system for what it is.
These are the people who have the power to change the system.
Some of them will use their power to fight change. They like the system. They want to keep the system.
Others, though. Outsiders. Periphery. Them. Those. Strangers. Outliers. Weirdos. The ostracized and ignored. Outcasts. Deserters. Untouchables. Fugitives. Refugees. Derelicts and vagrants. Exiles and migrants. Aliens, wanderers, and the misunderstood.
Others will bring the revolution.