Neurons, Synapses, Economics, and Life

Kira is out of her blue funk, and is aptly leading a Library group here on Multiply.  She receives no pay for this.  It is excellent work.

Here on Multiply, and lots of other places on the Web, people are blogging away about all sorts of things.  Mostly we don’t get paid.  We share ideas.  We expand each other’s horizons.  The world has never been like this.  Or has it?

I read Ben Franklin’s autobiography a few years ago.  He told me what it was like at the dawn of American history.  A few weeks ago I also read A History of the American People, by British author Paul Johnson.  He told me some very insightful things about the philosophical background of America, from a European perspective.

Barack Obama is our new president.  This man’s greatest gift to us, from my perspective, is his motivational speaking.  He pulls together all our collective angst and rekindles our faintly remembered hopes, and helps us to believe we just might, collectively, be able to make sense of life on earth, and order it in such a way that everyone gets what they need.

Because of the Book Reviews posted on Kira’s Library group, I made a trip to one of our local libraries today.  (Thank you, Ben Franklin, that we have public libraries in America.)  Besides the books I went there to fetch, I discovered, by browsing, another book that I just started to read tonight: Mirroring People, by Marco Iacoboni.  It’s a neuroscience book, published in 2008.  It’s subtitle is, “The New Science of How We Connect With Others.”  To me, it is fascinating and exciting to read.  My own neurons are firing so rapidly as I read it … I am having so many “Eureka” moments as I process and connect all that has entered my stream of consciousness these past couple of months. 

I am not sure that I am able, tonight, to write for you a full description of the path my thoughts have journeyed; but write I must nonetheless, because I’ve perceived some things that I just must share.

In our brains, our neurons fire, and we have billions of them.  Synapses are the connections between the neurons.  The more synapses, the more creative we are able to be.  Currently the phrase often used for creativity is “thinking outside the box.”  That phrase simply means being able to have a fresh perspective on an old problem, such that you might actually increase the likelihood of solving the problem.  In other words, not being so wary of “reinventing the wheel” that you fail to consider that there may be an alternative to the wheel when it comes to efficient travel and/or portage.

I am coming back to the internet, and then moving on to the economy, so bear with me please.

This socio-political experiment called America was precipitated by intense exchange of ideas after the invention of the printing press.  America has just this year shaken off some things that bogged us down, caused a civil war, in fact.  We thought we were doomed to division because ideology was our only unity, and that ideology turned out to be diverse, and comprised of many cultures.  What’s the same about Americans?  Is anything the same on a genetic level (as it probably is for, say, Italians)?

I think something IS the same about us genetically.  Be we Native Americans or any other cultural race by DNA, all of us here sprang from people who MIGRATED to a different place, BELIEVING LIFE COULD BE BETTER.

I postulate that some genetic marker remains in all Americans which gives us a propensity to believe that life can be better.  We’ve got a gene, I think, that makes us people who will TRY, people who will SEARCH, people who will — dare I say it — HOPE.

In fact, history, I think, has shown, that the darker the days, the more likely Americans are to rise to the occasion.  They used to call it “Yankee Ingenuity.”  Whatever you call it, throw us into adversity and our genetic code kicks in, despite our present paradigms, and we work together and figure things out and end up better as a whole than even we think is possible.

So what have we here?  A massive exchange of ideas on the world-wide-web!  It was not thought spawned on American soil that spawned America, you know.  We stood on the shoulders of giants (to loosely quote from a movie, and I don’t remember which one … maybe it was Jurassic Park).  I think that what’s happening here does not affect just us, but our little experiment affects all of humanity.

For the most part, there is no money changing hands as we all blog our little hearts out, and read each other’s thoughts, and make our sundry neuro-connections, then go about our business.  But we sure do spark each other, don’t we?

I just want to share with you my excitement about that fact.  I think good stuff is gonna come of all this sparking, kids.

As an aside (but a brief one) a commentator on election night observed that we’d had two baby boom presidents — Bill Clinton and George W (now I thought George W was born during WWII, which makes him not technically a boomer, but I could be wrong about that).  The commentator went on to remark how the boomers were supposed to “change the world,” and then he implied that they didn’t, and then he said that Barack is a subsequent generation.

I just want to say that the boomers did change the world.  The paradigm shift that brought the seeds of an internet that is (at least presently) FREE, is Woodstock Generation through and through.

Okay, enough about that.  Now the ECONOMY.

What has value?  Well, what do we NEED?  What is ESSENTIAL?

We must all eat and drink.  We must all have coverings and shelters against the elements.

Because of those needs, certain things have REAL value.  Food has real value.  Food springs from the earth, because of the sun, and water.  Land is called “real estate” because it has real value.  The dollar equivalent of its value may change with so-called economic fluctuations, but even so, the land itself is what is truly of value — particularly if the land is fertile and well-watered and in a favorable climate for production of food.  Or if the land contains other “natural resources” useful for the maintenance of life and health (timber, for instance, to name but one).

Another aside here — haven’t you noticed, kids, that the water we need FALLS FROM THE SKY, the food we need SPRINGS FROM THE GROUND … I could go on an on, but ISN’T THAT COOL?  Was that by design?  DESIGN?  If you think not, I betcha you think a bunch of other goofy things too.  But enough preaching.  Back to the economy.

We are in a TERRIBLE recession.  World-wide, no less.  Why?  Has the earth decreased it’s production of food? (No.)  Has the land disappeared? (No.)  Has the sun exploded? (No.)  Has the rain stopped falling? (No.)  Are there still sufficient resources to maintain life on this planet?  Um, Yes.

Do we all still want to work to harvest the things that need harvesting and convert the things that need converting to make them more useful or pleasing?  (Um, yes — we need MORE JOBS as a matter of fact.)

Do we all still want to BUY food and other stuff?  ABSOLUTELY!

Are we willing to trade with each other?  We sure are.  Heck, we’ll even do the types of things that most interest us free-for-nothing, so long as our basic needs are met.  (Like blog, for instance.)  We’ll even share our food and other resources, expecting nothing in return but hoping only for respect or affection, on our more magnanimous days.

So what’s the matter with our economy?  Oh, some of us (maybe a bunch of us) thought it might be fun to trade things that are not real.  Let’s bet money on the future value of, oh, say “real estate.”  Let’s buy land and sell it, just to make money on the increase in it’s perceived value (rather than to use it for the sustenance of life).

We built a house of cards, and eventually it collapsed.  If we took high school economics, we should have seen this coming.

Okay, the inflated speculative value has collapsed, and it’s not going back up, either.  Some gamblers lost a mess of money.  Losses hurt.  Okay.  Get up and build something that’s real.

I think that’s what Barack Obama and our “leaders” are about to do with us.  We’re going to provide “jobs” building some real and decent things that will benefit our children and grandchildren down the road, and pay the family grocery bills in the meantime.  Every little household gets the chance (I hope) to say about unnecessary debt, “Whew!  I won’t do THAT again.  Too scary how it can bite you in the butt.”  We might not get to do the jobs we thought were our birthright, but we will be productive again, and pretty soon our economy will have a positive “gross national PRODUCT,” and everyone who wants a job will be able to have a job, and since we’re basically a decent bunch of people, we’ll provide for the people who cannot work, and probably even for the people who simply will not work.

I wish I was more eloquent, but this may be the best I can do.  I’m writing my ideas anyway, hoping I might “spark” a few of you who turn a phrase better than I do, or who are able to neuro-connect on a higher level than what I do.  I’m adding my little spark to humanity, I hope; and I’m giving it free-for-nothing, and I do not care if anybody ever remembers my name.  Since we are five degrees connected to each other (or whatever that idea was a few years ago … maybe it was eight … it doesn’t matter) I’m hoping that somewhere down the line enough common sense and realistic optimism shines from my little synapses that a bunch of families benefit for generations to come.

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8 Responses to Neurons, Synapses, Economics, and Life

  1. ~ Kira ~ says:

    "If I have seen farther it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants." ~Sir Isaac Newton (for future reference) You are so right – the internet is bringing about change that would not have been possible any other way. We are able to converse with people we would never have "met" any other way. If ever there was a chance for peace on Earth, this is it. How can we hate each other if we can sit and "talk" to each other and work out our differences?I do hope the current economic crisis gives people who need it a jolt. Living beyond your means, running up credit cards, speculating on the future – all those are recipes for disaster, as we have discovered. So we will pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again. That's what we do.I have read lots of articles lately about mirror neurons. Isn't that absolutely fascinating? But most of that involves face-to-face interaction. I wonder what effect the internet will have on that? We are living in such interesting times – in both senses of the word. 😉

  2. Rani Kaye says:

    This author says that monkeys need the face-to-face, but with our higher language, humans' mirror neurons fire just from words/descriptions. cool, huh?

  3. ~ Kira ~ says:

    Yes, good point. Like from the brain's point of view, there is no difference between watching friends talking and watching people on TV. That's why people get hooked on soap operas and TV shows and they feel as if they know the actors. The brain literally doesn't know the difference, even though the people are consciously aware that they are just images on a screen.I gotta see if our library has that book….

  4. heidi breuer says:

    great blog great blog

  5. Mama Bear says:

    And, thanks to the internet.. we also have to worry about the criminal element that is just around every corner.. waiting to steal our identity. We can't spend our way out of a recession. Anymore than folks can spend their way out of their credit card debt. I don't mind doing volunteer work.. but, I also want to be compensated for my work. I don't mind giving the TRULY needy help.. and we do it all the time.. but, I certainly have a problem.. with folks on welfare screaming.. that they need a bigger HD TV.. big screen. We could probably go back and forth.. but, I'm in no mood for that either.. as tomorrow is my birthday.. and I refuse to ruin it.. with politics. Doesnt' matter what side they are on.. they are all out for themselves.. and none of them give a dang about any of us. That's just facing facts.

  6. Mel Weinerth says:

    Can hope that via the internet some good does come about .And you have a good blog here…..

  7. Rani Kaye says:

    I know that I have friends who look at life this way. Friends who truly believe that nobody ever ever ever truly cares about the greater good … and possibly that anybody who speaks or acts as if they care about the greater good is either self-deceived, or a liar.I also know that in their heart of hearts, these fearful friends of mine truly wish that they were wrong in this assumption.These facts — that America ever began … that the civil rights movement ever gained headway … that anybody, ever, has received help from another human being, springing from a heart of compassion — these facts stand as proof that the fearful worldview is not as accurate as these friends of mine fear it is.

  8. Kathy A says:

    I think society fell too far away from the "needs" category to the "wants" category – – and newer generations began thinking their wants were needs. Further, too many selfish 80's yuppies made it to the top, become CEO's of major companies that, through their successes or failures, are far-reaching. Unfortunately, right now we're observing a lot of failure due to selfish wants by those at the top which has adversely harmed a lot of innocent, hard-working individuals, not to mention America's economy, but other country's economies as well.For whatever reason, we've created a lot of people that want something for nothing. We were listening to a Dave Ramsey call-in and the caller was on disability because of sleep apnea. My husband has just about the worst case of sleep apnea his doctor has ever seen, yet my husband goes to work every day and works his rear off. Many people with disabilities are hard workers. Quite honestly, there are a lot of individuals who are born with genuine disabilities that work very hard to live as "normal" of a life as possible. Unfortunately, we've trained a whole slew of average (and capable) people to work the system for a free ride. We need to quit saying, "you can't because …." and start recognizing that ANYONE can and will if they want something badly enough. There are plenty of examples people who have risen above. Can't never could but where there's a will, there's a way.

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