The Fishbowl Principle

The Fishbowl Principle

by Gendelman


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The Fishbowl Principle by Gendelman

At the core, it doesn't matter what you believe governs the fate of man and Earth, what matters is that humans, as a global society, build a future that is sustainable and peaceful. This is the ultimate human evolutionary development, this is our challenge. By tracing our existence from where we began to what we have become today, this book explores the evolution and, should we continue on our current path, the subsequent possible obsolescence of human beings. Far from a doomsday tome, The Fishbowl Principle challenges readers to expand their worldview. We need to change our measure of a successful life from simply existing to prospering. The authors refuse to accept that life as we exist today is "as good as it gets". We argue that humans have reached a fragile tipping point; and that instead of fragmenting and isolating ourselves in a future of despair, we can and will work together to an even higher apex. As a human race, we examine what can be achieved if we look to our similarities instead of our differences. If we could harness communication as a powerful and cost effective tool to bring us together and educate ourselves in a way that fosters sustainable and responsible population growth, the positive transformation to our lives would be immeasurable. Whether you exist today as a peasant in a tribal setting or as an urban dweller we explore fostering a sense of global community based on common ground, not just niche existence. We present tangible alternatives and pose thought-provoking questions. Our vision is a collaborative one, and requires your participation. A path back to evolution starts with you, and includes all of us.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781438986371
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 12/17/2009
Pages: 428
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.95(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Fishbowl Principle

Building The Ark For The 21st Century
By Bruce Gendelman Robert Miller David Taus


Copyright © 2009 Gendelman, Miller & Taus
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4389-8637-1

Chapter One

On The Interconnectedness of Everything

A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall (Bob Dylan)

It is the crack of dawn, and the old man is throwing himself into his work with the energy of a man a fraction his age. His body is loosely draped in frayed clothes, his hair unkempt, skin burnt, and eyes ablaze. Muttering to himself, he attends to his task with feverish resolve, pausing only to shake his head from time to time in dismay. When passersby ask him what he is doing or, more typically, poke fun at him, he issues a series of bleak prognostications. The gist of what he has to say: The world is coming to an end, and he, accordingly, is taking precautions. How did the old man know of this impending threat? God told him.

Would any of us have taken such a fool seriously? Today, if someone were to take such a stand, they would most likely be labeled psychotic, or at the very least, categorically ignored. As things turned out, however, the man was not crazy; he was righteous. Upon receiving the revelation that the world was in grave danger, he felt divinely compelled to preserve what he could. So he embarked upon his project, which was to build agigantic structure that would serve as shelter from an imminent, cataclysmic storm.

No, Noah was not crazy at all. As the Book of Genesis explains, God was disgusted with the wickedness and evil wrought by humanity and decided to cleanse Earth and start anew. Under God's plan, Noah and his family were to be saved (along with delegates from the animal kingdom) as representative models, progenitors for the world to come. He was entrusted with the task of safeguarding not just his own life but also all life on the planet. Just how Noah knew it was necessary to build an escape vessel was of little interest to the spotted owls and ferrets that would eventually float with him to safety. The animals were safe and dry as the result of their steward's efforts. But Noah's soon-to-be-drowned contemporaries questioned the basis for his prophesy; they smugly viewed him as a lunatic, screaming at the gates of the asylum that the sky was falling on the most beautiful of days. So they did not heed Noah's warning-and they paid the ultimate price.

Who among us, knowing what we know now, would not have sought a berth on Noah's Ark as refuge from the mass extinction outside? With the benefit of hindsight, we would all choose survival for ourselves. But imagine meeting a wild-eyed old man on a sunny day, with no clear indication of a storm on the horizon: would any of us have listened?

When the waters around us are calm, we find it difficult to anticipate, let alone prepare, for an oncoming storm with the potential to undo everything we have built. The survivors of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia can tell us stories about what it means to be devastated by an event that comes without warning. But the survivors of the 2004 tsunami are not unique. There are countless others, such as the survivors of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (who, along with the various public safety officials, were cautioned-and, in fact, were admonished quite explicitly-regarding the oncoming threat to human life), who can also speak to what it means to suffer unexpected consequences from natural events (Warrick, 2006). The unhappy truth is that recorded human history is woven largely from the thread of unheeded warnings. Sometimes, though, our biggest threats have not been from nature or from the heavens. Sometimes we create our own storms. Sometimes our biggest threats have come from ourselves.

Will You Keep on Building 'til There's No More Room Up There? (Dolly Parton)

The Book of Genesis (as well as the Qur'an) tells us that God sent the Great Flood because of his anger at the wickedness of humans. God, in effect, had hit the reset button on his creation and, after wiping the slate clean, established a covenant with Noah to do things properly. After the floodwaters receded, Noah held up his end of the bargain-he was fruitful and multiplied. But over time, the great restructuring of the human soul once again strayed from its divine blueprint. Noah's descendants brought with them both righteousness and wickedness in abundant supply.

In the eyes of God, an unacceptable level of wickedness was reached with the rise to power of Noah's great-grandson Nimrod, who instructed his tribe to build a tower high enough to veritably touch the heavens and serve as testament to Nimrod's greatness. Indeed, Nimrod's tower was intended to be high enough to rival the power of God. Having seen that drowning humanity was not enough to get them to behave, God decided this time to use confusion to humble these most willful of his creations. God handily reduced Nimrod's tower to rubble, and caused all who took part in its building to suddenly speak in diverse languages. Following the tower's fall, what the erstwhile construction crew heard from each other was nothing more than a cacophony of babble.

Whether these Biblical stories are read as the direct word of God, the interpreted word of God, or instructive tales of morality, few would deny that they contain powerful images and messages. People of the "Book" (Muslims, Christians, and Jews) draw much inspiration and, depending upon their level of devotion, daily guidance from these words. Throughout modern history people have argued passionately regarding their interpretations of the Bible, only to find, as in the story of Babel, their words falling upon ears that do not understand.

Babel's demolition, like the Great Flood, did not purge humanity of its ability to cause wrongdoing, nor was our ability to communicate permanently lost. We have persevered in exploiting our potential for both righteousness and wickedness, and continue to collaborate with one another to achieve our goals, no matter how benevolent or nasty. But human history is of course, not one exclusively marked by collaboration. Some of our more passionate arguments have had a tendency to escalate into fierce misunderstandings with those who do not share our perspective. These misunderstandings may start as a hostile exchange of words, but when words fail, the language of violence is often employed.

While many descendants of Noah and Nimrod dedicated their lives to resolving differences, others developed belief systems quite resistant to penetration by people with different views. These idea-deaf people have constructed personal towers by which they sought to climb to the heavens with an arrogance and selfishness reminiscent of Nimrod himself. And some of Nimrod's descendant's begat children interested in building nothing, men and women who see themselves entitled to forgo communication and destroy anything and everything of value to those who threaten their view.

A case in point: The group of religiously motivated zealots who saw modern Western civilization as an affront to their God and decided, in the putative service of Allah, to destroy the World Trade Center and slay the people inside. In terms of a breakdown in communication, it does not get much worse than this. The hijackers who forced planes into the Manhattan skyline in September 2001 may have seen the modernity of the West as no less an affront to God than the blasphemy that led to the building of the Tower of Babel, but their interpretation of God's will and unwavering belief in the correctness of their vision seems unfathomable to the Western mentality. Most of us are no better able to understand the motivations of those who murder in the name of religion than we would have been able to comprehend, following God's expression of wrath at the Tower of Babel, the discordant noises coming from the mouths of our neighbors.

Acute levels of misunderstanding among humans are of course not confined to the chasm between terrorist and victim, nor even to the gaps in understanding that exist due to variations of language, religion, or national cultures. Misunderstandings-and their close relative, miscommunication-are quite commonplace in our lives. Most misunderstandings that we experience do not carry consequences on the scale of Babel, the Great Flood, or 9/11. But if we were to take the morals of these cautionary tales to heart, what would we see in our present world and in our own lives that reflects the miscommunication that resulted from Babel? What could we point to as a storm on the horizon, even on the sunniest of days? And just what is it about human nature that repeatedly pushes us toward having to learn the hard way?

Things We've Never Seen Will Seem Familiar (Grateful Dead)

The cause of humanity's struggle, and the ultimate cause for many of the dilemmas of our age, is this: Each of us suffers from a sort of myopia that predisposes us to place ourselves at the center of our worldview, and to place our present needs at the center of our time view. Individuals tend to make decisions and act based on their own perceived short-term individual benefit, rather than their perceived long-term benefit or the benefit of others. This statement, while exceedingly simple, is the key to developing a clear understanding of our world and ourselves and how they interconnect. It opens the doorway to accurately conceptualizing humanity's place in our rapidly accelerating universe. It embodies the most fundamental explanation for how we got to this moment in history, why our culture works the way it does, and why it is so difficult for us to change our direction. What's more, it provides a very real starting point for determining how we can overcome the obstacles we have set in our own way.

This tendency toward the personal, the local, and the short-term, which will be referred to as the Fishbowl Principle, will be explored in detail in the chapters to come. Indeed, the rest of this book's task is to explain and identify the conditions that caused this aspect of human nature to come about, delineate the consequences of such a tendency for the individual and society at large, demonstrate how many of the dilemmas of our age are manifestations of this principle, and discuss why the fruits of our myopic and short-term tendencies, in all their non-biological manifestations, are accelerating at this precise moment in time to induce humanity to overcome our biologically inherited predispositions.

I Can't Talk My Talk With You (Avril Lavigne)

One important example of the Fishbowl Principle at work is how we have grown to communicate with one another; more specifically, how we have grown to miscommunicate with those who hold different beliefs than we do. Each of us has certainly read about-and maybe even knows personally-people who claim, whether based upon religion, politics, nationalism, pride, or science, that they are the holders of the one truth. The misunderstandings borne of such irreconcilable certainty create disharmony in our environment, in our society, and in our souls.

The source of this disharmony-the certainty that flows from having an isolated system of thought, immune to any outside influence-is the Tower of Babel of our time. It is constructed of the same mortar as that in the biblical story: a myopic and potentially cataclysmic hubris. People who think in such absolutes will often go to great lengths to preserve the survival of their viewpoint over a more generally inclusive way of thinking; they will also do so in a way that favors their belief system's survival in the short term over the long term.

One practical consequence of this modern-day language barrier is our failure to fully hear dialogue regarding the most important issues of our time. The problem is not the 6,912 languages currently in use by humans-translators can easily bridge such gaps (National Virtual Translation Center, 2007). Here, there is a different kind of barrier. Choosing to avoid conversation that could potentially undo our most comfortably held beliefs is the safer and easier choice; indeed, it is in our belief systems' short-term interests that we protect them from scrutiny and challenge. As a result, people employ barriers to communication.

Also, adherents of any discipline of thought tend to speak in their own unique form of jargon, which causes the focus of various forms of groupthink to be narrow indeed. Because the words of scientists, religious leaders, politicians, artists, economists, social workers, and members of governmental bureaucracy are spoken in such different tongues, much is lost in the static of interpretation. This adds fuel to the fire of partisanship, wherein leaders revert to simplistic dogma so they may persuade their supporters more efficiently. These closed-ended communication pools work fine in fostering a sense of community. But they are inadequate to the task when crises beg for innovative solutions requiring communication across the boundaries of our self-selected groupings. When challenges transcend the confines of our subdivided fishbowls, little can be accomplished through isolated groups of people talking only among themselves and past all other groups of people. It is under these circumstances that the Fishbowl Principle prevents the cross-pollination of ideas needed for a vibrant, accepting, and sustainable society.

Those who shape public policy-the policies that will, in turn, shape our future-have an urgent need to learn how to truly listen to each other. We, the people who are impacted by these policies, have the same need, because the push for our leaders to broaden their focus must come from us. Ideas have been formed, and others are germinating, that hold significant promise to solve, or at least ameliorate, some of the biggest maladies confronting our planet's inhabitants. But unless the nature of the discussion dramatically changes, we will continue to incoherently argue past each other into continued inaction. This is detrimental to our long-term success for the very reason that we no longer live in anything remotely resembling an isolated fishbowl-like it or not, we are interconnected not only to our friends and neighbors, but to geographically remote people with whom we disagree or even dislike. At some point, those who are protecting their personal belief system from scrutiny and challenge in the short term must realize that they are doing so at the expense of their own long-term sustainability. Ideas, like animals or plants, require a certain amount of pressure from the environment if they are to grow and mature. The healthy pressure comes not from erecting barriers to threatening communication, but rather from opening gateways to understanding them. (Understanding is not the same as agreement, but it is the antithesis of contempt prior to investigation.) If we are to solve problems as grand in scope as the ones we presently face, it seems we must avoid the language of exclusion and learn how to listen better.

We're The Survivors (Bob Marley)

Humanity's tendency to favor perceived short-term benefit over long-term benefit or benefit of the group is not limited to our ideas. Actually, it is not even limited to our species. The patterns of behavior that humanity exhibits are symptomatic of a far larger trend, a trend that in our specific case has caused an acute form of nearsightedness. Understanding the Fishbowl Principle, then, would lead us to become willing to broaden our focus, to enlarge our lives, and to reorient ourselves through a better understanding of our place in the universe. Let us gain our bearings, then, by putting our immediate situation in perspective of the longer view of survival.

It is widely believed that 65.5 million years ago, a huge meteorite descended upon Earth and initiated a cataclysmic event: it caused a great extinction that ended the era of the dinosaur and allowed only very small creatures to survive, much like the shivering ferrets aboard Noah's tempest-tossed vessel (Alvarez, 1983). An austere view of this event is that catastrophe is sometimes employed as part of the natural order to keep life from multiplying wildly out of control. A more hopeful view is that life, this very flexible form of replicating matter, has historically found ways to survive in the face of incredible adversity.

It is also thought that a comet crashed into the Indian Ocean about 5,000 years ago, creating an enormous tsunami that washed over East Africa, the Middle East, India, and Southeast Asia (Blakeslee, 2006). These areas are thought to be the cradle of human civilization, and the tsunami presumably erased millennia of hard-earned progress and development. As bad as this was for the humans who were there and the humans waiting to be born, our species was nonetheless able to survive, and thrive.


Excerpted from The Fishbowl Principle by Bruce Gendelman Robert Miller David Taus Copyright © 2009 by Gendelman, Miller & Taus. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


1. On The Interconnectedness of Everything....................3
2. On The Physical Universe: Time, Matter, And The Beginning of Everything....................23
3. On the Origins of Life on Earth....................49
4. On Evolution And The Emergence of Humans....................69
5. On Psychology And The Human Mind....................105
6. On Religion (as Spirituality)....................133
7. The Fishbowl Principle....................167
8. On Evolutionary Religion....................189
9. On Evolutionary Government....................213
10. On Evolutionary Economy and Energy....................235
11. On Evolutionary Education....................251
12. On Acceleration And The Dilemmas of Our Age....................275
13. On Population....................295
14. On Environment and Energy....................327
Conclusion: Approach to Solutions....................355
About The Authors....................367

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