The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cultural homeostasis

Read the above article. If you have the capacity to look past the politically charged surface, you will see a big chunk of what I’ve been talking about on this blog.  Living systems crave homeostasis, whether they be psyches, human bodies, families, nations, or an entire species.  This is one of the reasons it is so damned hard to lose weight, change bad habits, heal a bad relationship, get out of debt, shift a local or national political status quo, erase prejudice, or vanish sexism.  It takes more than simply good will—it also takes an understanding of the survival  purpose of the behavior.

Simply waving our hands and wanting behavior X to go away doesn’t work unless the changing of behavior X is ecologically sound with the deep psychological needs of the  client, or family, or culture.  Most of the hideous stuff that happens in the world is NOT the result of conscious planning and villany.  Rarely are people actually sitting in a volcano around a table plotting with Dr. Evil to ruin the environment, oppress black people, stifle women’s rights, or cripple America’s international standing.  If that’s what you think human beings are…well, that’s an interesting model.  If you have conquered the three major arenas of your own life, then you have, in my opinion, the understanding to extrapolate to the outside world.  Please.  Read the above article.  Let’s talk about the implications in politics, psychology, gender relations etc. for the basic physics principle that objects at rest remain at rest, objects in motion remain in motion. Try to change something with huge inertia, and unless you REALLY understand the physics—or psychology—or sociology—or biology of what’s going on, you’re going to get spanked.

For writers, if you don’t understand this about human beings, you will create ludicrously two-dimensional characters who flip-flop all over the place based on author convenience.  Read the article.


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