Topics: Introduction - Quality of Life

Quality of life interests us in two ways in regard to effectiveness, In the first instance, it assesses how well we have done as change agents in solving problems of need and/or want – improving our circumstances, so to speak. In the second instance, it sees how we measure up individually and collectively, seen in such terms as productivity, integrity, honor, compassion, wisdom, character, helpfulness … indeed: countless ways in which we have made something of ourselves by developing our capability,,,.

If we look at the quality of life now, we could place it (the QL-point) relative to a continuum from the worst things ever were to the best they could be, defining that continuum as progressing (roughly) from problems already solved through four types of unsolved problems:

Worst ever was

(Progress =>)

(Progress =>)

S

Sp

S-P

Ps

P

^

QL-point

* This continuum should be seen as a slope (see Diagram): The going gets harder. The QL-point is illustrative; there is no implication that we are near halfway home. The QL-point varies by individual and collectivity, sometimes by circumstances, sometimes by effectiveness as change agents.)

Where:

S are problems already solved – albeit not always to an optimum. But a need or want has been met.

Sp are problems solved that require continued re-solving, such as educating new generations of children or repairing eroded infrastructure.

S-P are solutions that create impediments a for solving other problems because of the intellectual tools used. Questions we raise, given our incompletely instructed nature, are often badly pointed.

Ps are problems that arise from solutions as products rather than processes. Pollution of various kinds is a common example (e.g., global warming). So is money. So too are some answers to questions. (In the case of S-P the problem is in the thinking; with Ps it’s in the thoughts.)

P are unsolved problems, some of which only collective behavior, will be able to solve, some of which will require new intellectual tools, .

***

Topics that we shall address in BFPS Applications , , , , , – i.e., Helping, Community, Communication and Cognition, Education, Health, Science and Behavior – typically extend across the whole continuum. (“Mixed blessing” captures this flavor.)

All such topics comprise solutions to some need or want. But each also has characteristic problems of all four types. For example….

Health has its medications, doctors and nurses (S) but it must attend to inoculations and licensing (Sp), must struggle with a “supply and demand” model of service (S-P), deal with “side effects (Ps), and work toward solutions for an unending doctor-patient communication problem (P).

Community gathers together people with shared interests and provides services (S), but must collect taxes – or their equivalent — regularly to pay for those services (Sp), suffers from being a hypostatization – i.e., an imputed entity when it very badly also needs to be seen more behaviorally in order to become an effective change agent (S-P), must accommodate the fallout from decisions made – in part from decision making mechanisms used such as voting (Ps), and must still reinvent itself to become a more effective change agent (P).

Education provides acculturation and training in a variety of tool usages (S), and must do so repetitively under more or less disciplined conditions (Sp), which lends itself to an overemphasis on learning relative to knowing (S-P), to the detriment of curiosity – which needs further development, not just encouragement (Ps), and has a long way to go to make itself a lifelong resource for better living (P).

Communication and cognition give us useful connectivity and informative content (S), but their useful transitory quality often requires repeated messages (Sp), they employ cognitive tools – e.g., categories and classes re aggregate data – that slant our thinking, sometimes in nonproductive ways (S-P), their word, language and ideational products engender massive definitional and clarification efforts along with informational overload (Ps), and even yet fall far short of furnishing needed guidance (P).

Helping happens; it makes contributions (S), but the need for it is infinite (Sp). It too encounters difficulty pursued as supply and demand (S-P). It has the potential to encourage dependency (Ps), and sorely needs to find a paradigmatic basis to better assure relevancy of timing and content (P).

***

To what sources should we turn for guidance to improve the quality of our lives – in both senses mentioned above? What principles should we live by? Many precepts are available via the experiences of those who have gone before us. But are any more general, more useful behavioral principles to be found?

In light of the problems we face, up to and including self-realization and the survival of the human species, the possibility of previously undiscovered principles warrants investigation.

(c) 2010 R. F. Carter


FOOTNOTES (RELATED MATERIALS):
S

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