Monday, February 23, 2009

Strength Within the Community

Copyright and Photo CreditsA few posts back, I made the observation that strong individuals tend to make a strong community.

The truth of the statement, of course, is contingent on the meaning of the terms.

The statement I made turns on the definition of strength. When strength refers to skills, knowledge, health and moral fiber, one can see a direct link between the strength of the people and the strength of the community.

If c = sum(a, b, c); then c will increase by increasing a, b or c.

As humans evolved from a pack animal, it is likely that we have strong instincts about our place in the pack (social order). Judging from the things I've read and seen, this instinct appears to be extremely strong in certain parts of the academic and political communities.

When one defines strength in terms of power over others, then the equations change and there is a troubling new calculus where a benefit to Peter diminishes the position of Paul.

This calculus is troubling because, as people struggle to gain power of each other, they tend to worsen the lot as a whole. I've been in a number of situations where people spent a horrific amount of time jockeying over relative power while failing to notice that their power plays were diminishing the value as a whole.

When speaking of topics such as strength, wealth and well-being, people are wise to distinguish between intrinsic strengths (those which are cumulative) and relative power. When the education system develops strong character, it augments the wealth and well being of the community. When it concentrates on issues such as social awareness, the system just seems to heighten petty jealousies which are less likely to lead to a betterment of mankind.


Anna said...

My Lord, could you stuff more empirical assumptions into a post? I think not.

Next topic...

y-intercept said...

That's an odd retort for a post that was trying to draw a theorectical distinction.

The post says that if you define the term in one way, thoughts go in one direction. If you define the term another way, thoughts go in a different direction. To make the point I clearly exaggerate the directions.

This is a valid literary form to emphasize the point that if you have two different meanings, you really have two different terms and that people need to be attentive to the meaning.