The Larger Picture is an organisation trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together so that we can see…. the larger picture. For example, nuclear energy is clean energy only if you look at a very small part of what is connected to it. We work on understanding things as broadly as we can, and use that understanding to solve problems.
The Larger Picture is the most important thing in the world. Actually, it is the world. Actually, it’s more than the world: it’s Everything, and that’s a whole lot!
Not even all that long ago, learning in general was a process of moving towards a growing understanding of The Larger Picture by constantly putting the pieces of information you experience at any given time in the right place, very much as if you’re working on a jigsaw puzzle. And although our limited abilities mean that we can only work on this one or a few pieces at a time, humans who learn in this way most certainly do realise that in fact these perceived pieces are not seperate entities at all, but that they are all interconnected inseparable parts of the greater multidimensional and ever-changing whole that is The Larger Picture. They knew that, as they kept putting pieces in the right place and kept on filling the remaining smaller and smaller gaps between the pieces, they would eventually no longer see a (partially) completed puzzle with these irritating dividing lines between pieces, but a whole Larger Picture. Wonderful! And all the more wonderful because the ultimate objective of this way learning is to learn how to live. This way of learning was not unique to humans; all species, within their own limits -and we have our own limits too!- learn in this way. If done well, the result is a species that understands its surroundings well enough to be able to live in concert with it by itself being an essential part of The Larger Picture.
But something changed along the way. Nowadays, for humans in civilized places, learning very often works the other way around: you take The Larger Picture and a pair of scissors, and cut The Larger Picture into ever smaller pieces, discard the pieces which are not deemed very interesting or important -generally those which you can’t use to make lots of money with- and study these remaining few seperate pieces on their own (this is called specialisation, and is generally deemed a Very Good Thing) with the ultimate objective of making as much money as possible by using the pieces in whatever way leads to maximum profit. So, far from working towards an understanding of the Larger Picture, this kind of learning works towards a specialisation in a very limited number of pieces, and a complete ignoring of all other pieces, and the ultimate objective has become to make as much profit as possible by using these pieces. This too is generally deemed A Very Good Thing, even though it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this way of living destroys everything we depend on; in fact, like author Derrick Jensen says, it will take anyone but a rocket scientist to see this. You want proof, or are you indeed a rocket scientist? The following facts might help: compared to the 1950’s-60’s, there is less than 10% of larger fish left in the oceans; less than 60% of plankton (the basis of the oceanic food chain); less than 5% of oldgrowth native forests and in many places less than 10% of the soil (the basis of the terrestrial food chain) remains. This is all the result of humans trying to make money at any cost. I think it fair to say that the Dominant Culture thrives on converting the complex living world into simple dead products for profit and toxic waste. It does so for only a very short time though..
Someone who is familiar at least a little with considerable parts of The Larger Picture will have no trouble seeing that the current way of the Dominant Culture is literally insane and if enough people would see this, the insanity would stop pretty quickly. It is, therefore, in the direct interest of Big Business that people don’t know too much about The Larger Picture. Whether or not Big Business actively and intentionally helps people learn in the “New And Improved Way” (yes, that is Irony, and yes, I do believe they actively and intentionally do this), it stands to make a lot more money if people no longer see The Larger Picture, but only a few pieces with huge empty voids between them, instead of the endless connections and relationships that exist between these perceived pieces. Only while they keep their eyes on their own pieces can people think that everything is still ok while all the pieces they don’t keep their eyes on are burning.
The voids you see between pieces of a puzzle are a very significant part of this whole story, because if you cut a picture in pieces, you of course end up with these seperate pieces, all of which did exist before, but you also end up with something that wasn’t there before: these empty dividing lines. And even though empty spaces are often not readily consciously experienced, they certainly are experienced unconsciously. The proof of this is the very fact that people no longer know how everything is interconnected. Possibly the most important example of this is that humans nowadays very often perceive a great void between humans and the rest of the world to such an extent that it is often felt that humans and the wild living world are not only separate, but even opposing entities, while in fact we’re all in the same boat together! Two quotes say this pretty well:
“The people of your culture cling with fanatical tenacity to the specialness of man. They want desperately to perceive a vast gulf between man and the rest of creation. This mythology of human superiority justifies their doing whatever they please with the world, just the way Hitler’s mythology of Aryan superiority justified his doing whatever he pleased with Europe. But in the end this mythology is not deeply satisfying. The Takers are a profoundly lonely people. The world for them is enemy territory, and they live in it like an army of occupation, alienated and isolated by their extraordinary specialness.” Daniel Quinn in ‘Ishmael’
“(W)e are all floating in the same boat. We may certainly try to push one another over the side, but only a maniac (…) would make a hole in the bottom.” Terry Pratchett ‘The Fifth Elephant’
You may wonder -and I sure hope that you do, because I certainly can’t help wondering- firstly how and why these changes in learning and their most important objectives came about, and secondly how we can undo these insane changes. These two Big Questions will be at the basis of this blog. I will work on answering them, unsurprisingly hopefully, as if it were a jigsaw puzzle. I will take pieces of the puzzle as they come to me: the most obvious ones, or the ones which seem very important at a given time, and try to find the right place for them. One of the nice things about working on a jigsaw puzzle is that it doesn’t matter all that much where you start working, because any piece you manage to place right contributes to the final objective. By working this way, I intend to uncover the nasty things that forced us into a very unnatural learning process, and to find the way back to how things should be. Like Daniel Quinn keeps saying in his recommendable books, there is no One Way to Live, but there certainly are some very wrong ways to live. I hope to help you open your eyes so that you yourself can recognise the wrong ways, and also how to find the right way for you, your loved ones, and the Community of Life you are a part of. And I would like to ask you to help me learn too if you feel so inclined. In this there are no separate roles for teachers and for pupils: everyone teaches and everyone learns!