The idea of a culture that willfully blinded itself to feedback was unbelievable.
Gaya’s research had taken everyone by shock. She had highlighted that the Thearans did not interact to serve the purposes for which they came together unless it benefitted them individually. Furthermore, they measured the benefit in terms of something that was totally unrelated to the purpose of the relationship for which they had come together. They called this measure collars and developed a practice they called conomics [pronounced with an e on Thear – editor] to drive decisions in their relationships. Everything had to be measured in collars in order to put a value to it
Her research also highlighted that Thearans blinded themselves to feedback by design. They called the process of blinding themselves to feedback by design as longchetoy notavinoni. This was the deliberate act of Thearans to respond to symptoms in a system by designing ways to reduce or even hide the symptoms.
Thearans were now known in the universe as the best example of a species that lacked wisdom. After all, how could any species so irrational, no foolish, to deny itself feedback be wise? How could a species that did not respond to the consequences of its action survive? No wonder the Thearans had disappeared from the universe despite having grown to dominate their planet beyond any species on any planet in the universe.
Gaya had created much curiosity about each practice of the Thearans that caused them to be blind to feedback. After having heard about the first two, most in the audience could not believe that there could be yet another absurd way to become blind to feedback. The audience was excited that now Gaya was about to put an end to the suspense by narrating what the third practice of Thearans to blind themselves from feedback would be. There was expectant silence as Gaya took the floor to narrate the third practice.
“The Thearans practiced something they called cspoilit that used proxies to make decisions about the consequences of their actions that they would rather not address themselves.” She looked at her shocked audience.
How could one practice something that created a proxy to address the consequences of their actions, the audience wondered? That would break the feedback. It would blind them! Each of the practice of the Thearans to blind themselves of feedback was weirder than the previous one. How could one replace one’s responsibility to a feedback with a proxy?
“When they generated too much waste because they consumed too much, they would go to proxies that they called cspoiltiian [cpoiltiian for singular – editor] to seek a solution. The cspoiltiian would look for ways to earn collars [the Thearan currency of exchange] form the temporary reduction or removal of symptoms. Few years later the waste would pile up again, and now the Thearans would replace the cspoiltiian rather than address their consumption so that there would be less waste!” Gaya looked at the expression of her audience. They had never heard of any species that would not address the feedback to their action by changing their action. Leaving the responsibility of responding to the result of their actions to a proxy was beyond reasonableness.
“Wouldn’t that mean they willingly put those without the same consequence as themselves in charge of responding to the consequences of their actions?” the youngest member of Gaya’s audience asked bewildered.
“That would not only make them them blind to feedback, it would allow the proxies, or other Thearans, to develop interests that would be different from theirs! Would that not result in an encroachment and exportation of each other?” a sharp colleague of Gaya’s countered.
“Yes, you are both correct” continued Gaya, “The practice of cspoilit did indeed promote parasitic behavior on Thear. The cspoiltiian became parasites who encroached and exploited the consequences of actions of others. By seeking out the encroachers themselves, the Thearans ended giving the cspoiltiian legitimacy and creating a culture of encroachment and exploitation.”
“Is that why Thear had the most unrest and violence in the universe?” asked a student from the audience.
“As you know, nowhere else in the universe have we found an example of a species entering into relationships where they do not have the same, or similar, consequence for their actions in the relationship. We have not found any species who actively built structures to allow their encroachment and exploitation. We have not found species that use opportunities to encroach by responding to the consequences of the actions of others to create, legitimize, and institutionalize exploitative relationships.” Gaya recognized that this needed more explaining. She would need to break this down to simpler ideas her audience could absorb. All of this was outside their experience and imagination.
“Some researchers have referred the response of a species to consequences of their action as skin-in-the-game. When those in a relationship have a different skin-in-the-game, they are unlikely to find harmony or peace. When cspoiltiian respond to the consequences of those whose actions created the consequence, they do not have the same skin-in-the-game as those whose acts created the consequences. There is no harmony or peace. In fact, the only common purpose in their relationship is to address the consequences of the actions of one of them.” Gaya responded with sadness.
“Thearans legitimized the interventions by cspoiltiian into institutions they called governments and service providers creating complex systems that lacked fairness, care, or respect.” Gaya sighed.
“When the activities of the Thearans resulted in excess carbon in their atmosphere, causing global warming because the heat could not escape from Thear, Thearans did not respond by changing their actions. They went to cspoiltiian and the institutions of cspoiltiian to address the consequences of their actions. There is no evidence that Thear ever succeeded in arresting global warming.”
No wonder Thear was the best-known example of a planet where respect and care for each other and the community of life were exceptions.
It was also the most cited example of the pollution, encroachment, and exploitation of relationships. It was the most cited example where democracy was not about taking responsibility to the consequences of your actions, it was about legitimizing structures of encroachment and exploitation. Now, thanks to Gaya, Thearans would be recognized as the most shocking example of a species that blinded itself to feedback. Thearans would be known for their blinding themselves by value, design, and proxy
Gaya’s sad eyes looked at her audience. She knew her audience would need to digest the strange practices of conomics, longchetoy, and cspoilit by Thearans that made them blind to feedback. She silently prayed that having learnt about the consequences of blinding to feedback no other species in the universe would evolve any practice resembling these. If her documentation ensured that everyone would measure the consequence of their actions in terms of the common purpose of their relationship, that they would not respond by hiding or denying the consequence, and they would take responsibility of the consequences of their actions, her efforts to make her research accessible across the universe would have served their purpose.
After all the universe survived, and thrived, through respect and care for feedback.
#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and/or individuals or institutions who may be quoted and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to the same.
He can be reached @AnupamSaraph