Ethical framework for humane systems design


Summary: Our common human+planet survival depends on self-organization at all levels -from the human individual to the international global organization level.

This is nothing new, ancient wisdom (across the globe) promoted for ages living with respect for nature. From a more recent perspective we have mis-understood this as the “man vs. nature” dialectic. This dialectic poses nature as the enemy of man and man as an enemy of nature – but this does not have to be the case.

The man vs. nature (nature vs. man) fallacy

This is a widely mis-understood dualist idea – similar to the mind vs. body, binary assumption. Just how the brain and the body are deeply interrelated and part of a whole, humans are part of the planet as part of a whole.

Human + Planet teamwork for co-adaptation and survival

Today we may want to understand this human vs. planet not as a dialectic of two opposite forces but the co-adaptation teamwork between two levels of the same organizm:

  1. the co-adaptation of planet earth to its environment (the earth regulating itself in order to minimize its impact on its universe environment)
  2. the co-adaptation of man to its natural environment (humans regulating themselves in order to minimize their impact on the planet).

The co-adaptation of earth to it’s universe calls for the constant re-adjustment of highly-complex factors such as temperature (among many other variables).

The co-adaptation of man calls for the constant re-alignment of our man-designed systems to support the high-level survival goals of man+nature.

Human co-adaptation also calls for another lower-level re-alignment of all our countries, states, cities, organizations, business, families and even the individual self.

How we did things in the past

Traditionally man has designed tools to assure (at least on some level) the re-alignment of human actions to the survival of man and nature. This wisdom was embedded into our culture as some mythology, some “superstition”, some belief networks, and more recently some aspects in religion and some research of science (those not heavily biased by other interests [e.g.tobacco company and exxon-mobil bribing scientists to deny global warming]).

Human actions are and were guided by these embedded “software” into our cultural systems this is how culture became a system of adaptation and survival on some levels. Today humans have moved away from a good number of these embedded cultural systems. The ethical and moral compass designed into our cultures to insure our human+planet survival has been lost.

Business has the survival compass
Business is leading our social development and this is why business has risen to gain social responsibilities that before were built in into our culture through grand narratives.

Unfortunately today we understand the goal of business to have a very narrow scope of responsibility when in actuality, like all human systems it needs to include the responsibility of helping our nature+planet, high-level goals.

Our cultures today are becoming globalized and business-centered and the socio-ecological compass has lost alignment. Loosing sight of high-level goals is partially the result of rising complexity and it is partially a natural development.

Business today may need to embed the high-level human+planet socio-ecological survival requirements that were once embedded into our cultures. This is why today we need business leaders to enter constant cycles of re-alignment with ecological interests and humane interests – the building blocks of the big picture.

The interrelated world

Today we understand that we live in interrelated complex systems. Our actions on one area affect other areas. Our biological body is one of those systems. Exposure to poison on one area of the body affects other areas of the body and eventually the entire body.

Our bodies are self-organized. Our cells know what to do, when to do it and most of them do it well. We rely on the skills and wisdom of our cells to do their job to insure our health.

Human beings are the cells in the body of our planet earth. Our planet relies on humans to use our skills and wisdom to insure its health and survival. But today humans are acting more like a virus in a quest towards multi-system suicide (human and planet).

We need to gain sufficient self-awarenss to know what our role is in the bigger picture of nature+human survival. This is how we pose ourselves to regain this as a common, high-level wisdom. Finally, if we do something to insure the health of the planet, we will be doing something that benefits humanity. This is a win-win-win… situation.

How are you contributing today towards the health and survival of the common, human+planet body?


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