We talked about how people have different feelings about power. Some think it’s somehow unseemly; it means having undue control over others. In the modern world, persuasion isn’t a choice. It’s an ever present fact of life. Someone is always doing the persuading. People are spending millions and millions of dollars to get their messages out with ultimate power and skill. So either you do the persuading or someone else does. The difference in our children’s behavior may be the difference between who is a greater persuader – you and I or the drug pusher. If you want to have control of your life, if you want to be the most elegant, effective model for those you care about, you’ve got to learn how to be a persuader. If you abdicate responsibility, there are plenty of others ready to fill the void.
By now, you know what these communication skills can mean to you. Now we need to consider what skills can mean to all of us together. We live in the most remarkable era in human history, a time when changes that once took decades can now take days, when voyages that once took months can now be made in hours. Many of those changes are good. We live longer, in better comfort, and with more stimulation and freedom than ever before.
Some of the changes, however, can also be terrifying. For the first time in history, we know we have the ability to destroy the entire planet, either through horrifying explosions or a long, slow death from polluting and poisoning the planet and ourselves. It’s not something most of us want to talk about; it is something our minds move away from, not toward. But these situations are a fact of life. The good news is that while God or human intelligence or pure dumb chance, or whatever force or combinations of force you believe affect where we are today, ,has created these terrifying problems, it has also created the mean to change them. All the world problems are factors, but also a source much larger than our present understanding. To say that there is no source of intelligence that we may call God is like saying Webster’s Dictionary is the result of an explosion in a print factory and everything came together perfectly and in balance.
Thinking of all the problems of the world, one gets excited because of a common relationship to them all. All human problems are behavioral problems. You’re using your precision model right now and are asking, All? If the source of the problem is not human behavior, there is usually behavioral solution. For example, crime is not the problem – it is people’s behavior that creates this thing we call crime.
Many times we take sets of actions and turn them into nouns as if they were objects, when actually they are processes. As long as we represent human problems as if they were things, we dis-empower ourselves by turning them into something big and beyond our control. Nuclear power or nuclear waste is not the problem. How humans use the atom can be a problem if it is not handled effectively. If we as a country decide these tools are not the most effective or healthful approaches to energy development and consumption, we can change our behavior. Nuclear war is not a problem in and of itself. The way human being is what creates or prevents war. Famine is not the problem in Africa. Human behavior is the problem. Destroying each other’s land does not support the creation of a larger food supply. If food shipped in from other humans all over the world is rotting on the docks because humans can’t cooperate, that’s a behavioral problem. In contrast, the Israelis have done okay in the middle of the desert.
So if we can agree, as a useful generalization, that human behavior is the source of humans problems or that new human behaviors can solve most other problems that arise, then we can become quite excited because we will understand that these behaviors are the results of the states human beings are in and are their models of how to respond when they are in these states.
We also know that the states from which behavior springs are the result of their internal representations. We know, for example that people have every minute of every day, only when they are in a smoking state. People don’t over eat every minute of every day, only when they are in a state they have linked to overeating. If you effectively change those associations or the linked response, you can effectively change people’s behavior.
We are now living in an age where the technology needed to communicate messages to almost the entire world is already in place and being used. The technology is the media – radio, television, movies, and print.