Monday, December 27, 2010

Optimal Action

(my apologies for the extended break -- I have found that reflecting too much on the cancerous collapse of our modern system begins to build up a toxic residue of thought and emotion to where it's necessary to step back from it for a few days and meditate on other things for a time...I advise everyone to do this now and then to avoid settling into a state of despair)

Modern life has been the antithesis of most of human history in a number of ways.  In truth, we have been able to successfully avoid being bound by many of the same rules of reality of our ancestors, as the largesse of modern civilization has allowed us to at times coast in our lives, knowing that there has been so much surplus wealth and resources accumulated that, until recently, it took almost conscious effort to starve to death in the United States.  Obviously, while conditions have been changing in recent years, there is still plenty of "the fat of the land" to live on. 

As we begin to move through the initial stages of collapse, however, we're going to see conditions change radically.  Most people are familiar with wilderness survival, especially the survival "reality" shows.  While they range from comical (Survivor) on one end, to serious (Dual Survival) on the other, one point which is often stressed is that there is no room for error when it comes to personal survival.  Misplaced priorities or actions which have no direct benefit to a person or group can cost valuable time, energy and supplies.  Simply put, as things get more "lean," there is less and less room for anything which doesn't directly benefit a person or group.

Some people may be familiar with Brian Tracy, the motivational writer.  One of his books, Focal Point, decribes a (possibly apocyphal) situation about a power plant that is having output problems.  An engineer is brought in to look at the problem, spends a day there and marks an X on a malfunctioning gauge.  The gist of Mr. Tracy's thesis is that we need to be able to find where to direct our efforts to do the most good.

Likewise, members of the Leibowitz Society need to start learning where and how to put their efforts as conditions in the modern world steadily worsen.  In response to this, I would like to present a concept called "Optimal Action."  Optimal Action is the idea that when we are in a siutation, we need to be able to make the best of our available choices in a logical manner that will have the least negative impact and most positive impact for our long-term survival.  An easy example is, if we are dehydrated and starving, and having a choice between food and water, choosing the water over the food, as it's more vital to immediate survival.  Obviously, there are going to be many situations that are less clear-cut than that.

While this seems like a logical thing to keep in mind, the problem we face is that as conditions worsen, we are going to find ourselves in situations of more and more stress, with limited time to respond and limited information on which to base that response.  We need to remember to keep focused on what is going to benefit us the most even as we are being pulled in many different directions. 

1 comment:

  1. Here in north Alabama, the economy and the real estate market is still fairly strong. Why? Because Huntsville is HQ for the military industrial complex.

    Come January or February, we're going to talk with a realtor and put our house on the market, with the goal of selling it and walking away with $60K-$80K. The next county over is sparsely populated, with no building codes outside of the county seat.

    Collapse or not, our goal is an energy-efficient owner-built home that is completely paid for, someplace where we can grow food and raise a few animals. I grew up in farming country and worked as a farmhand for many years, so I have a few skills. We'll see how it goes.....

    Nice blog you've got here. I came here by way of Kunstler's blog, and plan to stop by on a regular basis.