Below is a list of some of the big hard social problems facing western society today; solutions to which continue to elude us. This is perplexing because you will discover most of these problems have been brought about by ordinary people like ourselves making poor life decisions. For reasons explored later, it will be shown that these poor choices are attributable to a few common identifiable “root causes” which result in most problems being self-inflicted; thereby making them potentially self-preventable and self-correctable. Why these problems continue to persist and are so ubiquitous and all pervasive are questions worthy of examination from a more generic perspective. The focus of this read is therefore to determine the extent to which generic common root causes can be found to these big hard problems. Once identified, their inherent commonalities open the way to potential clues for developing a generic IT solution framework designed to fill these gaps. It will come as no surprise, most ‘root causes” are in the mind of ordinary people like ourselves.
Meeting of the Minds
We humans have the unique and free ability to be able to rationalise and trade-off input from both our subconscious and conscious minds. In doing so, we are able to make rationalised decisions about how we act and the resultant actions we take during our life. Our human brain is not only our greatest strength but it can potentially be our greatest weakness. It’s this weaknesses in how we utilise the optional use of our conscious mind that is at the “root” of many of our current problems. This problem is typified but statements like “but its only human nature to….”. Our subconscious mind is very similar to that possessed by animals, it that entrenched mindset designed to ensure our survival. Its human nature to want to eat, to sleep, to breath. These are natural animal instincts that we don’t even need to think about becauase it’s ingrained in our subconscious mind.
Unlike our subconscious mind, which operates on autopilot allowing us little choice, its proper use demands a conscious act of will to invoke. This also goes to explain why the marriage between our conscious mind and computer information technology (IT) works so well together. Unlike our conscious mind, which is prone to forget important information in those “now” moments, computer memories are exceptionally good at remembering and recalling known information accurately. IT not only improves human productivity but also addresses our inherent weaknesses in our powerful and adaptive conscious minds. When IT supplements the weaknesses in our conscious minds, through human collaboration and attachment to IT, ordinary people have been found to make exceptionally effectively use of IT in solving many difficult social problems in the past. This marriage has been especially successful where dull repetitive activities are concerned and where great accuracy is required. This type of work is often regarded as “brain dead” work, which humans quickly become bored with and thereby become prone to making errors. These types of work are ideal opportunities for marrying IT collaboratively the more useful tasks our conscious mind excels at, like empathising with a person in front of us that requires our help.
IT contribution to Problems Solution
The objective of the Yourself Helper social network app is to look for similar ways of apply IT innovation to such generic gaps in human behaviour, thereby contributing to the solutions to these identified social problems; especially those that are self-controllable and self-preventable. Those problems that are caused typically by the burden of inequalities, imposed by society on our less fortunate, requires social correction by those more fortunate and those responsible for these inequalities. IT can again play an important role by facilitating the more advantaged providing help for the disadvantage by way of their respective identification and collaboration. The hope is that the Yourself Helper website makes available proven self-help information to ordinary people when and where it is most required. Promoting the inclusion of additional help contributions stimulated by way of the altruistic juices stimulated by ordinary people journal entry templates encouraging such help from the likes of yourself. It also enables access to authenticated sources of external help. In later reads these problems are the subject of more specific indepth analysis. Here we look for potential avenues where IT innovations (like “Yourself Helper”) are able to further assist in contributing to the improved evolution of solutions to today’s big hard social problems.
Broadly speaking, theses big hard problems fall into two categories:-
- Those that are mostly Self-inflicted, thereby both preventable and self-correctable:
- Obesity & Type 2 Diabetes
- Health Management
- Inequality (Women, Financial, Cultural)
- Addiction (Alcohol, Drugs, Cigarettes, Pornography, Gambling)
- Broken Democratic Processes
- Environmental Pollution (Air, Water and Land)
- Energy Management
- Domestic Violence
- Information Technology (IT), etc.
- Those that are not necessarily Self-inflicted (eg. could be hereditary), but are nevertheless candidate opportunities for ordinary people prepared to help others with issues like:
- Mental Illnesses
- Hunger & Poverty
- Environmental matters (Drought, Floods, Bush Fires, etc).
The above lists are not exhaustive, nor are they presented in any particular order of importance or represent any particular demographic. However, there is sufficient diversity in these problem focus areas to determine where the common nuggets of underlying root causes can be found. It turns out “less than 2% of the human genome is responsible for heredity and the blueprint for life. The other 98% consists of functional DNA sequences, known as “introns”, which exert control of and modify certain traits, behaviours and many disease processes”; especially those associated with physical and mental diseases. In summary, 98% of the above problems are open to self-correction and self-prevention, if we will it to be so. For we humans have this unique and incredible (conscious) mind that provides us with our competitive advantage over all other forms of life. Our conscious mind is unique in being able to reverse entropy or what we have called “human nature”. Yet we choose typically not to use it appropriately when needed most? Those that do, tend to exude a wholeness that enables them to live a good life, be more at peace with themselves and extract the most out of life; in being the best they can be. Those that don’t, clearly are not the best they can be because of the barnacles they have accumulated from a life of self-inflicted problems and lazily defaulting to their sub-conscious mind that is intent on making the status quo persist with the excuse “its only human nature!”.
In theory, where a collection of like problems are able to be well defined, the more likely they are to offer up a common framework for generic solutions. Any such generic solution typically consists of three functional layers of requirements; those that are:-
- Common to every problem, the most useful of nuggets, often applicable to the critical mass of ordinary people (like that “its only human nature” category)
- Shared across many problems, demonstrating similar characteristics (like addictions)
- Unique to each individual – the rarer and more disburse of requirements requiring special self-help and sometimes specialist support to articulate and correct.
When these three functional layers are integrated they offer up an effectively framework for how an IT platform solution can collaborate in the self-transformation process towards solving not only personal problems but, through shared experiences, contribute towards solving the broader social problems. This becomes more and more possible as the critical mass of individual successes grows to bring about a shift in the social mindset. An effective IT platform is one which empowers ordinary people to build upon the common and shared generic components of the solution by reducing the complexity of their individual contribution to the their problem (eg. obesity). This reduction in complexity enables those inflicted with the problem to focus on the “unique” aspects specific to their situation; like the obesity problem stems from a major catastrophe in their life. This unique situation often requires unique “tweaks” to the self-transformation process and thereby special attention.
Most importantly it’s about giving recognition to the strong relationship between the challenges being faced by ordinary people in making these types of personal decisions (“Actions”) and the implications of this commitment on the broader affiliated social problem. This incestuous relationship goes to explain how the imbalances arising from ordinary peoples’ misinformed mindset contribute is the major cause of the growth in barnacles on people’s lives; barnacles that weighs them down unnecessarily , constraint their ability and stifle them in making well thought through, rationalised decisions. When these imbalances are aggregated across a critical mass of the population, they become reflective of our overall social mindset that makes the problem even harder to shift. Herein lies the clue to the biggest challenge to any effective solution to these big hard problems – achieving a critical mass shift in mindset (at both the individual and social levels).
If these problems were easily solved, they would have been solved many years ago. Their strategic implications for society would have been improving rather than worsening over time. “So why isn’t somebody doing something about these problems?” – the typical critical mass response from ordinary people with mindset issues. The fact is that this somebody is “Yourself”! This may come as somewhat of a surprise. It is the reason why most ordinary people just don’t know who, where or what to turn to when it comes to it first becoming aware that they have a mindset issue and secondly being awakening to the fact that by making certain changes in their life these problems can be addressed. Hence the reason why the “Yourself Helper” website aims to remove this excuse. by taking those prepared to undertake the journey along a process of self-help.
While perserverance with self-help most often pays, sometimes a person needs various forms of additional personalised help to better identify the root cause of their problem and where the associated imbalances exist in their life. And at the higher end of support, what can possibly facilitate bringing about a sufficient critical mass shift in current social mindset to accelerate the rate at which ordinary people able to solve these common problems. If you doubt that this is possible, simply consider the impact that Facebook’s IT social network app has had in shifting the critical mass of ordinary people’s mindset towards greater narcissistic self-promoting behaviour. There is no silver bullet, no magic pill. It’s for each person’s own problem to be solved by “Yourself” – aided of course by a specific self-help process and, where deemed necessary, external support from able bodied people who either don’t have this problem or better still who have solved the problem themselves. The ultimate requirement is to be sufficiently empowered yourself to be able to solve these personal problems primarily through an effective “self-help” process, in the knowledge that you are thereby contributing towards finding the eventual solution to one of society’s big hard problems by sharing your success with others. The question that goes begging is “How can ordinary people be sufficiently empowered to solve such complex and hideous problems?” More of the same is not going to work. It’s difficult to imagine this occurring without some such innovative support platform.
The “Yourself Helper” IT platform is designed specifically to do what computers do best; supplement our human conscious mind in addressing its key “now” weaknesses. Well architected computer systems don’t forget information once captured and in turn are able to readily recall saved information accurately upon request. In contrast, our conscious mind is not always able to recall important knowledge we know we have already gleaned from our own experiences or that which can be learnt from other’s authenticated worldly experiences. Being better informed in the “now” situation is to be “mindful” of both our our weakness and strengths in each time the problem poses it ugly head. For example, a person with a known drinking problem needs to be forever mindful of their proven strategy for avoid alcohol consumption in every of their “now” situations. Like alerting us to the “now” fact that our BMI level is at an unacceptable; a level determined by yourself and recorded by yourself at a previous time of deep reflection. Such support alerts make ordinary people far more “mindful” of their “now” situation, especially when it involves making more balanced life shaping decisions; decisions where more regard for the strategic implications involved are required. But unless our “will power” is strong enough to over-rise our default subconscious need for “comfort food”, our free choice will stand as testimony to whether we do in fact have control of our own life. The freedom to choose a strategy is limited by the subconscious mind’s drive to survive. A learned habit of negative thinking leads to unwanted emotions and the latter leads to self-destructive behaviours. This “now” time-pause, is to be mindful of past commitments, through better utilisation of our powerful and adaptable conscious mind, supplemented with IT memory power. This knowledge gap is both our strength (when compared to all other forms of life) and our weakness (when constantly defaulting to the subconscious drive similar to that of other animals). It’s almost like modern society needs to take psychological reassessment of human life’s principles, values and attachments; with a view to shifting its current mindset when it comes to these self-inflicted and self-correctable big hard social problems.
Change of Mindset
As discussed in earlier sections, being the penultimate form of life in the known universe, it’s our human brain and the way its associated mind operates that’s the key differentiator us humans have when compared to all other forms of intelligent life (mainly animals).
Our human brain consists of two distinct physical minds:-
- Our Subconscious mind – constantly working in an automated fashion to keep our physical body operating with integrity.
- Our Conscious mind – engendering an awareness of self, reasoning, solving problems and discriminating when faced with a decision.
Our subconscious mind works 2 million times fast than our conscious mind as it has evolved from our ancient past; being required for the on-going survival of our species. The subconscious mind is very similar to that of other animals; in keeping our physical bodily functions operating in harmony with one another. It has changed little over time. While we are sleeping or are comatose, it is our subconscious mind that keeps all the parts of our body functioning normally without any apparent input from self.
In contrast our conscious mind, while being slower at processing input from our senses, is far more powerful, adaptable and flexible. In comparison to other animals, we have an exceptionally large conscious mind. This is what provides us with the competitive advantage over all other living animals. Two different experiences arise from our conscious mind, the results from which vary depending upon what we have the greatest attachment to:
- The physical body as a source of self-pleasure (eg. sex, gambling, eating).
- The physical body as a source of self-pain (eg. childhood sexual abuse, addictions – like gambling, obesity).
Once the survival instincts of the subconscious mind are attended to in auto-pilot, our powerful flexible conscious mind remains open to self-pleasure experiences and the reasoning of the self-pain implications when pondering our free choice in the personal decisions we make. Choices, deriving pleasure through our five senses and/or protecting ourselves from immediate of long term self-pain, involve our conscious mind making rational decisions. Decisions, way beyond that automatically provided by our subconscious mind in auto-pilot, attached to protecting ourselves from self-pain – like the more tactical experiences of eating poisonous food, putting our hand in the fire and the more strategic protection from obesity and resultant physical disabilities. It is interesting to note that the subconscious is involved with tactical reasoning and decisions related to life or death – in any particular situation – since it deems every life event as maintain life or leading to death at some level . Conversely, the conscious logical mind is adept in strategic long term reasoning, rationalising and decision making. Education and good memory are important human assets for effective self-pain attachment, whereas self-pleasure is more about instant gratification.
As we begin to identify with the many big hard problems we face, we discover there is a consistency in the nature of the imbalances giving rise to them. Imbalances occurring in our past reasoning and rationalisation of self-pleasures seeking experiences and fear of self-pain experiences (like fear of death and addiction withdrawals). Experience has shown that allowing one to go through withdrawal without supportive medication or some form of professional support has little/no impact on the relapse rate. Expressions of this imbalance are found in every-day clichés like “no pain no gain”. To many, such expressions of intent are irrational. “Why would I choose a painful experience to gain something, when I know there must be other easier way without having to experience self-pain?” It’s all in the mind; the rationalisation of such trade-offs. Trade-off considered when making individual life shaping decision using our conscious mind to choose between attachments. Ideally both should be given equal consideration but for reasons discuss below they rarely are.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (modified by Dr. William Bryan Jnr.) goes some way to explain this phenomenon. In order to understand an individual’s underlying issues and problems, we need to have an appreciation for the relative levels of importance or attachment our subconscious mind applies, from the least to the most important experiences:-
5. Sex Species
4. Territory Socioeconomic
3. Food/Water/Oxygen Physical
2. Self-Esteem/Worth Ego
1. Self/Love/Soul/Deity Spiritual
Starting with the most important, the experience of love is essential to our spiritual survival. Spiritual survival – ie love – is the paramount survival issue to the subconscious: it will tactically sacrifice anything to maintain this. On-going separation from love automatically results in mental disorders like anxiety, fear, depression, loss of self-esteem, etc. Robbed of levels 1 & 2, the subconscious mind must utilise its next level of experience – supporting our physical survival. At the physical level there is an acceptance of birth, death and our need of physical survival for life. Once level 3 is satisfied, later in life our proof of life at the socioeconomic and sexual levels stimulates the desire for the likes of financial success and sexual promiscuity. The only way to shift our life from this automated subconscious mind default decision making process is for us to choose to apply our more powerful self-controlled conscious mind to the decision at hand. This is sometimes referred to as applying our conscious minds’ “will-power’ over our subconscious mind in order to reason and rationalise our self-pleasure vs self-pain trade-offs better. It’s this unique capability of our human brain to trade-off our subconscious mind against our conscious mind that enables us humans to operate against “entropy”.
This ability to make choices that are at odds with our subconscious mind’s defaults determines both our strength and our weakness. Strength, because no other known forms of life are engendered with such a powerful override capability. Weakness, because our failure to take advantage of this unique capability in getting control of our own life is at the heart of explaining why western society currently struggles to solve these resultant big hard problems. Western society’s mindset is simply reflective of the aggregated decision making of ordinary people undertaken every day. This mental trade-off process, therefore involves two related recalls of information relating to our own experiences and those made known to us by other members of society:-
- Balance – Like anything we do, too much or too little of anything tends to be bad for us. It’s always finding the right balance between our tactical and strategic needs.
- Mindset – Where there is a serious imbalance, the pre-dominant social mindset tends to invariably favour short term tactical solutions to the almost total exclusion of the strategic considerations, despite their known long term implications, no matter how serious.
Take the perfectly natural and important physical experience of drinking water. Under normal “balanced” circumstances there is nothing intuitively wrong in drinking water. It the most basic and fundamental of our subconscious experiences, essential to our survival. But drinking too much water is known also to be bad for you, just as drinking too little. Either excess can kill you. Provided you have a balanced awareness for what constitutes the normal amount of water one needs to drink, ordinary people are unlikely to ever have a social problem with drinking water. Our subconscious mind drives us to automatically drink water for our survival. There is little need for the conscious mind to become involved, as our natural senses (thirst) drive our decision making. But take the situation where an individual, say undertaking an arduous trek, becomes overly aware of the importance of preventing their dehydration and makes the deliberate decision to drink more water than their subconscious mind suggests. In doing so such a person uses their conscious mind to be mindful to drink water excessively; beyond that of their natural thirst instincts. Such strength in will power can eventually bring about their death through drinking water to great excess. As we know excess water drinking is not a big hard social problem today because people generally have a balanced appreciation for what constitutes the normal drinking of water. There exists is a prevailing social mindset that also supports this notion from both an immediate (survival) and longer term (common good) perspective.
It’s all about achieving the right balance (between tactical vs strategic considerations) and assuring that our own prevailing mindset is sound, especially when the accumulated social mindset may be at odds with our own.
Proof of Solution
Take another example of one well known big hard problem – obesity & type 2 diabetes. People with stress, anxiety and depression in their lives often turn to “comfort food” and drink in order to take their minds off their various problems, whatever they might be. The subconscious experience of eating and drinking water, is not in itself intrinsically wrong; unless we eat and drink to excess. Over eating & over drinking (alcohol) are two “now” situations contributing to the big hard social problems of obesity and alcoholism. Because a well know imbalance exists in the minds of those having eating and alcoholism disorders, we associate this imbalance with a prevailing mindset favouring instant gratification over their long term implications, like type 2 diabetes, domestic violence and a generally unfavourable life style. Whereas, a problem like anorexia, which is associated with not eating enough, is considered a mental illness. Anorexia is nowhere near the epidemic proportions of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Hence, why anorexia is probably not one of our big hard social problems today. But obesity associated with over eating and alcoholism is! The current prevailing mindset is that obesity and alcoholism is not a form of mental illness but simply people enjoying themselves (to excess). Or is it?
After taking stock of the first two commonalities (individual imbalances & prevailing social mindsets), a further two common contributing root causes are also identifiable with these big hard social problems:-
- Ordinary people’s inability to find that right balance in making decisions that have both tactical and strategic implications – favouring tactical instant gratification to the almost total exclusion of the longer term individual and social problems.
- The aggregated mindset of society (the collective of ordinary people) preferring to justify “keeping their head in the sand” by pre-occupying their conscious mind with tactical forms of instant gratification, all designed to take their minds off their real strategic problems based on historical needs which have outlived their usefulness.
- Broken democratic processes, impacting upon the way government, business, unions, media, government, etc. exploit the apathy of ordinary people, in caring more about their own interests (wealth and fame) at the expense of ordinary people.
- Information Technology is similarly absorbing our greatest innovative IT brains in the pursuit of quick profits gained from tactical mundane gadgets and widgets specifically designed to take people’s minds off their problems.
One explanation put forward by health profession (physical and mental health) attempting to explain this conundrum is that our subconscious mind is conditioned to favour this way of behaviour (in the womb and at birth). The foetus is a thinking, feeling entity though its logic is severely limited by lack of experiential knowledge. Any perceived threat may result in a tactical subconscious survival way of thinking, feeling and behaving. These threats may be physical as in illness in the mother, violence as in trauma or abuse; they may be spiritual as in a lessening or absence of love as in an unwanted pregnancy or financial stress precipitated by the pregnancy and so on. This leads to a crisis in identity with a loss of meaning or purpose – a spiritual death. A common manifestation of this in later life is alcoholism and drug addiction.
Our birth, by all accounts, is regarded as one of the most traumatic and fearful experiences of our life. This first common experience, instils the fear of self-pain and the attachment to self-pleasure. The unborn child has been perfectly content in their mother’s womb for 9 months, when suddenly this perfect state turns into a fight for life event, as the newly born is forced to give-up its current mindset of contentment. Modern medical hypnosis has discovered that despite our inability to recall our birth experience in our conscious mind, our subconscious mind remembers it well. This is used to explain, when under hypnosis, why people often return to recall this harrowing experience and relate its associated fear with many of the problems arising in their current life; like smoking and hyperventilation in a panic attack – the need to breathe!
Immediately after birth, the child’s second experience is the self-pleasure of suckling upon its mother’s breasts – its first experience of “comfort food”. When food is given, caring is given, love is given. This automatic attachment to a “comfort” experiences after a self-pain event take the mind off any “self-pain” residual of an individual’s first big hard problem. This relationship appears to be indelibly stored in our subconscious mind. As mature adults we know such a strategy does not make the problems go away, yet we persist in seeking various forms of instant gratification in an attempt to gain some short term relief from any fear associated with problems in our life; be they real or unreal. This attachment worsens over time as these tactical diversions becomes a problem it themselves (eg. as various forms of addiction).
A recent account of Australia’s greatest recorded weight loss attests to this claim. Jordon Tirekidis at the age of 44 weighted 310 kgs. After speaking to his doctor (Dr. Mark Stephens) it was explained to him that being morbidly obese was putting his life at serious risk and was destroying his standard; both “now” and in the future. Fortunately, Jordon confronted this “death” event projection by seeking professional help in an attempt to devise a different strategy for his future life. Four years later Jordon weights 107 kgs, having lost an incredible 200 kgs. He attributes his success to the hypnotherapy he underwent and the meditation he took. The hypnotherapy enabled him to give over, the normal automatic mental and physical processes, to another person, namely his hypnotherapist. Through hypnotherapy and meditation he was able to commit himself to a more strategic role in life as described to him by his hypnotherapist. A life devoid of excesses and driven by a commitment to a shift in mindset. Today, with a whole new life ahead of him, Jordon serves as testimony to the importance of a commitment to a mindset shift as a precursor to self-empowerment. Empowerment to live a more balanced life style with strategic intent; a strategy that not only solved his apparently insoluble personal problem but also made a contribution to the solution of one of our “big” hard social problems – obesity and type 2 diabetes. That is why his efforts are worthy of sharing with you right here.
In Jordon’s case the imbalance could be measured constantly in his BMI (Body Mass Index –height : weight comparison) and GM (Girth Measure – height : waste comparison). From both measures, Jordon would be constantly reminded of both his worsening and improving situation through self-help; making him more mindful of his condition each time he ate and drank anything. In the case of his prevailing mindset, the acceptance of his mental weakness is revealed in his need for external help from medical professionals (hypnotherapy & meditation) specialising in such mental disorders. In sustaining his vastly improved life situation, it is now possible for him to return to a state of purely self-help, progressively weaning him off the need for on-going external help. Jordon spends much of his free time helping others with a similar obesity problem. Jordon is set to live a good life.
It’s our inability to give sufficient regard to the more strategic implications associated with the many important decisions we make in life that is key. For it’s these important decisions in life that the shape of our lives (for better or for worse) is determined and, being a very common form of attachment, aggregates to become one of society’s current big hard problems. This phenomena is well known in the medical fraternity and fundamentally linked in the “body-mind”. Our subconscious mind is totally pre-occupied with our survival (fight or flight). Whereas our conscious mind (that which differentiates humans from other animals) is available for us to reason and for making appropriate life shaping choices. The programs in the subconscious mind are fixed and robotic working 24×7. Whereas the conscious mind is far more flexible and powerful in being able to solve and rationalise extremely complex problems. In the case of obesity and overeating, it’s the subconscious mind’s survival drive that is winning over the more rational thinking of our conscious mind. Our conscious mind these days well knows the implications of overeating. It requires strong will power and often a mindset-shift in order for an obese person to regain control their eating disorder.
None of this is helped by governments, media and businesses all being in the pockets of the powerful food and drink lobby group, all intent upon making money out of this epidemic. This is why obesity has become a big hard social problem and why it is so complex to solve. For when an obese person is confronted with a greasy “chiko” roll, the emotional voltage in their subconscious generally over-rules the logical mind (of their conscious mind) trying to remind them this food is not good for you – longer term. This same pattern of behaviour can be found as the root cause of most of the big hard problems modern society faces to day. Hence the reason and importance of belabouring these root causes here.
It is only when we accept that there are these imbalance in our life that we are ever likely to make the necessary commitment to identify and correct these as potential problems by having our conscious mind place more importance on our long term strategies in shaping our life rather than purely defaulting to the lazy tactical choice of instant gratification attachments. Strategic decisions consciously made are the only effective way to avoid using various forms of instant gratification as a diversion tactic to take our mind off our problems. IT gadgets and widget are another good example of a modern day diversion tactic regularly used by ordinary people and promoted by big business more intent on making profit than caring for the health and well being of their customers.
A yarn I heard many years ago involved a middle-aged man coming to see a doctor about his health problem. After explaining his symptoms of fatigue, dizziness, pain in the chest, lack of libido, etc. the doctor begins by questioning him in an attempt to get to the root cause of his health problem. Do you smoke? – Yes – 2 packets a day, How much alcohol do you drink each week? Do you take recreational drugs? What does your diet consist of? How much exercise to you do? How often do you have sex? How often do you see a doctor? Is there much stress in the work you do? Suddenly the man rudely interrupts. “I didn’t come here for the Spanish Inquisition, just give me something to fix me!”
As we know, there is no silver bullet or magic pill to fix what has become a long life of excesses and exclusions. A life suffering from a lack of balance and from properly thought through life shaping decisions. A life of instant gratification and pre-occupation with self-indulgences. The consequences of these imbalances are about to come home to roost from the fear of an early death. Why does it take such a serious realisation, when the facts have been known for a long time? We either face our problems in the “now” or await a serious event in our life that forces the strategic into our “now life”; often when it is all too late because too much serious damage has already been done. In-line with this style of instant gratification life, the patient now expects the doctor to take full responsibility for the solution to his problem by prescribing him some magic pill. Hence one of the reasons western Health systems are buckling from such demands from ordinary people. Sorry, the solution (if there is one) is most likely going to require the patient undergoing a whole change of mindset way he lives his life in the future if there is to be any hope for him to have a reasonable standard of living. The same underlying analogy can be found in almost all (98%) of the self-inflicted big hard social problems we face today.
Unfortunately, Jordon’s story of success is more the exception than the norm. Obesity alone costs Australian’s today over $5.6 billion dollars per year. And Australian’s has the worst record in the world. Worldwide there are 387 million people inflicted with this disease. The root cause – the imbalance in people’s “now” decision making favouring that which delivers instant gratification over a heathier and happier life for both themselves and society generally. Such simple every day decisions are the root cause of most of the big hard problems being faced by western society today. That pre-occupation with the tactical, that choice to take our minds off our “now” problems, all culminates in a vicious cycle of weakening will power and dis-empowerment. This flaw in our nature is happily preyed upon by business, governments and media; caring more about their profits and success than the well-being of ordinary people; preferring to make money at the expense of ordinary people.
Informed Decision Making
We are fortunate to live in a democratic western society, where ordinary people are free to make their own decisions, provided it’s within the law of course! With such freedom comes great personal responsibility. But ordinary people must also live with the consequences of any poor decision they may make and stop expecting others to solve their problems for them. They must face and deal with the strategic consequences of their on-going tactical behavioural patterns. We human’s all have a brilliant brain and access to all the information needed to make far better informed strategic decisions. The good news is that it’s available to all to use. The bad news is that all this tactical behaviour is unfortunately occuring at a great cost. Governments and society can no longer afford the escalating costs of all this tactical, instant gratification fallout – its crippling our economies, our environment, our health systems and the lives of ordinary people on a scale unimaginable.
Why do ordinary people persist with this behaviour, for nothing you have read in this explanation is necessarily new? It’s all been said before, heard many times over and most are already aware of their imbalance measures. Why then? In a word “fear”. Fear that the immediate pain in doing the right thing to correct their own problem is far greater than the pain involved in facing the strategic consequences of their problem. Unlike Jordon, such people are yet to face the strategic consequences of their tactical actions in the “now” to a sufficiently critical extent. Because there is no commitment to changing their current mindset, as the fear balance has not shifted sufficiently, yet. The only valid argument that can be made is that they just do not know how engender sufficient staying power to maintain such a serious commitment. It’s the New Year’s resolution problem all over again. Not only aren’t they living authentic lives, they have no idea where or who to turn to in order to bring about such a mindset shift. They persist with an unreal mindset, because it suits them “now”. It’s the same mindset issue that got them into their current predicaments and western society plagued with big hard problems that defy any solution.
The prime objective of “Yourself Helper” is to empower ordinary people to solve such problems in being the best they can be “now”. First through self-help from authenticated education such as this. An awareness of these big hard social problems and the possible strategic implications of pre-occupation with instant gratification decision making. Next by awaking their need for a mindset shift to address their “fear factors”. Finally undertaking a life long journey of self-transformation being more mindful and balanced in their “now” decision making and being constantly reflective of how they are tracking. For once sufficiently empowered to behave differently (from animals) in making full use of their powerful and creative conscious mind are can be better placed to make rational, better informed decisions. Yourself Helper, as the name suggests, is about helping ordinary people help themselves take overall responsibility for their own life through the decisions they make and the actions they perform in shaping their own destiny. Thereby becoming the best they can be, rather than accumulating barnacles on their life and becoming a burden on society but rather a part of the solution to these big hard problems.
Big Hard Problems Solved
In Australia, we are fortunate to have world-wide recognition for solutions to a few big hard problems. All have occurred through ordinary people adopting a strategic stand on certain social problems that had gotten out of hand (eg. namely reduced cigarette smoking & HIV-AIDS infections). As with the commonalities to the big hard social problems, these few solution examples also displayed common patterns which have also been leverage by the Yourself Helper innovation.
Over the last 50 years the addiction to cigarette smoking in Australia has been reduced by 75%. The necessary shift in mindset shift not only took a long time to achieve, was also expensive, relentless but effective. Back in 1964 cigarette smoking in Australia was socially cool and trendy. To break the cigarette smoking growth trend, this addiction’s strategic long term implication needed to be communicated in a manner reversing its cool and tendy reputation. By introducing sufficient “fear factor” in advertisements portraying “death’s reaper” a shift in the critical mass of the current mindset was brought about; cigarette smoking began to be viewed for what it really was – unhealthy, filthy, addictive, expensive, habitual, uncool and untrendy. Society would no longer tolerated its consequences without due regard to its costs to society – direct health costs and indirect unhealthy implications for others becoming impassive smoke absorbers. A similar fear campaign was waged to reverse the growing HIV-AIDs epidemic. HIV peaked in 1987 (with 7,000 cases) and those progressing to AIDs peaked in 1994 (with 953 cases), which has reducing significantly ever since.
In comparison, over the last 50 years Information Technology (IT) has been recognised for its exceptional strategic IT innovation. But in more recent times, it’s become associated with aid and abetting our big hard social problems. The last noteworthy IT innovations were:-
- Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of the internet in 1989.
- Martin Cooper’s invention of the mobile phone in 1973.
In celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the internet, recognition was given to how it not only changed the world forever, but it will continue to do so across our strategic life span. Such IT innovations focused on the more strategic and meaningful; affording real benefits to individuals, society and the environment. At its inception in 1991, the first internet web-site was created as a free knowledge sharing platform for academia. Its sound technical framework enabled its design to readily scale and expand to accommodate a far wider and diverse user audiences. Today, it has now become the most powerful neutral networking capability; available to all and virtually free. It enables limitless possibilities to be realised by ordinary people across the globe. It has become so pervasive and ubiquitous to be considered today more as an infrastructure layer to the world’s IT innovation (both tactical and strategic). From this perspective, it can be viewed as a balanced innovation, addressing both tactical and strategic needs. It has its own inherent problems, mostly associated with fringe issues such as the privacy of information and data security; a common problem for most social network solutions.
The way in which people use the world-wide-web (www.) has delivered staggering social benefits. As with any world shattering technological breakthrough (like the splitting of the atom), people can either put such innovation to good or bad use. Could Tim Berners-Lee have ever imagined that his internet would give rise to bad behaviours such as cyber bullying, stalking of our young children, financial scams, pornography, gambling, etc. Because he was rightly pre-occupied with the strategic importance of his platform and its potential benefits to society, such abominations would have been inconceivable.
What does it take to rectify the current IT imbalances occurring in our own lives these days? What will it take to foster greater interest in the innovative use of technology attending to the betterment of mankind, rather than to its detriment? Or do we continue to simply “put our heads in the sand” and let it be someone else’s responsibility.
So far we have 2 noteworthy examples of big hard social problems:-
- Cigarette smoking reduction
- HIV-AIDs infection reduction
whose solutions were brought about through a shift in mindset to a more strategic paradigm – counter “fear factors”. The correction processes both involved addressing the imbalances brought about by ordinary people being too pre-occupied with the need for instant gratification and bringing about a social mindset shift focused more on the longer term implications of simply continuing as is.
We observed how, in these rare cases were solutions have been found, the commonalities that were also evident:-
- awareness measures monitoring the extent of ordinary people’s personal problem(s).
- an awakening to the need for self-help and a commitment to a shift in mindset, often running against the prevailing social mindset of the day.
- action taken to seek additional external help where necessary.
- regular monitoring of progress improvements towards a personal goal.
- recognition that being the best you can be “now” requires a broader commitment to living a more strategic life style and constantly being mindful of this when important personal decisions are made.
- caring more about others than yourself, giveback and a commitment to social well being.
The sections which follow take upon a more detailed analysis of specific big hard problems that remain virtually unsolved. In each case we explore how the innovative use of IT, integrated with other care professions, have the potential to make serious contributions to their solution. In particular, we examine how an IT innovation (like “Yourself Helper”) can provide a platform for leveraging other IT innovations in correct some of its current imbalances (like Facebook, Twitter, Cloud technology, Big Data and others); all integrated to contribute towards viable and effective solutions to these big hard problems. The intent is to illustrate that through the innovative application of modern IT social network utilities, a generic solution platform is not only possible but its potential contribution is limited only by one’s imagination. The will to be the best you can be and, in doing so, to undertake a journey of self-transformation culminates in ordinary people caring more for others than themselves; the common clue to solution to our current predicament. The value to society is beyond comprehension.
Your next Awakening Step
In taking the next “Awakening” step on the subject of Big Hard Social Problems, you begin to consider your unique situation in regard whether you concur with the problem assessment or have differing views or the common characteristics of these problems and alternative solutions. You will initially be invited to answer some common questions and be encouraged to identify with your where you stand on this matter right now, after reading the awareness material. Finally the questioning turns to the more important question of yourself as a social creature living in a fuzzy world of relationships with others, inextricably linking you to others – in your family, in your community, in your society and to even your spiritual connections and love of your surroundings in nature.
Simply “click” on the Big Hard Problems “Awakening” button to take the next step in your self-transformation journey. iI you are an expert in this field you may be interested in updating or even owning the above layman and non-professional version of this generic Problem analysis and proposed approach to contributing to their solution.
< Insert here the Self-Help process with only the “Awakening” button in red.
Click the “Our Big Hard Problems” Awakening button below to download the “Awakening” PDF questionaire on this important subject. You will be invited to participate in answering the generic “Awakening” questions by creating an entry in your personal journal, as you reflect upon just how you feel right now about what you have just read.
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