Yesterday I talked about how society/the extended order is always evolving. This, I think, is linked to the ideas that Daniel J. Siegel explores regarding emotions in ‘The Neurobiology of We’.
His key argument is that our brains, our minds (which he considers two separate things) and our relationships with each other work in a kind of permanent feedback loop. Emotions, he argues can only be formed when we express our need for something (i.e. from a parent, a lover etc.) and they respond. At this point we integrate the need and the response into what we would call an emotion. Emotions by themselves can’t really exist. The danger here is that if we don’t have anyone to feedback to us, our brains can work overtime to second guess those responses and develop emotions – and if you think the worst, so depression can spiral out of control.
In the same way, societal systems, values and traditions can only develop when people interact and relationships develop implicitly around often unspoken acknowledgement that something feels right. A person has an idea, and shares the idea or acts on it. Only when he gets feedback from others on it can its worth be appreciated. The idea in and of itself is valueless.
Over time the weaker ideas die off, and the good ones are strengthened, developing into laws, traditions etc. So society evolves. More dangers exist when those with a conservative mindset fail to see the bigger picture, which is just as difficult as trying to plan society, and try to push back against the changes without fully appreciating what they are doing.
And it’s here that I think the concept of faith comes into play, because society is big and complex, far more than our somewhat irrational, anthropomorphic ideas about God. If we need some kind of faith, it’s in trusting society to sort itself out and not trying to interfere too much, if at all. If you can do that, then I believe magic happens, and things far greater than any of us could ever imagine will occur. But only if we let it.1