In this article I would like to present Transitionalism’s concept of self-actualization from the social perspective. In the previous blog post, I discussed the principles of individual self-actualization, which involve:
- Possession of an individual sense of meaning and purpose or fruitfully acting in the pursuit of it.
- Being self-aware where one seeks to understand the underlying motivations of why one thinks and feels as one does.
- Take responsibility for one’s physical and psychological well-being, coupled with efforts of self-improvement to be a better quality person to oneself as well as others.
- To be more socially engaged and act to better the world.
- In cultivating a psychologically flexible and future-oriented perspective, one is provided with a greater sense of personal stability that also contributes to maintaining social stability overall.
Central to the principle of individual self-actualization is to understand that individuality is a relative concept, given that all people and things are connected to everyone and everything else.
The Social Self
Like individuals, society possesses a ‘self’; one that emerges from the communal experience of individuals as an outgrowth of a commonly held conceptual framework comprised of language, customs and traditions, cosmology, and value structures. How society responds to challenges and opportunities presented to it constitutes its communal memory and narrative, which, in turn, become the foundations of its identity as a self-reflective consciousness and nexus of intentional energy. The society’s drive for meaning and sense of purpose emerges from the collective desires, fears, and hopes of individual members, filtered through the needs of society for stability, growth, and self-perpetuation.
Social self-actualization is founded on a value structure based on interdependence, social interest, and cooperation where the principle of reciprocation sees society and individuals as two halves of a whole. Just as the individual has the Three Responsibilities to Self, Society, and to the Environment, society also has a similar set of responsibilities to Self, to Individuals, and to the Environment.
Principal among these responsibilities is providing individuals physical security, a system for a fair and sustainable distribution of resources, and to facilitate their drive for self-actualization. Success is measured by the degree society has met the goal of serving the aforementioned needs of all individuals and the environment, while at the same time by how successful it addresses its own unique set of concerns.
Building ‘Society Within Society’
Practice of social self-actualization begins with the coming together of like-minded individuals who choose to interact on the basis of the Three Individual Responsibilities. When considering social affairs, individuals focus on what is considered to be in the best interest of society, whether or not the choices offered are aligned to their personal preferences.
The recent vote for Britain to leave the European Union and the possibility of a Trump presidency in the United States lays bare the weaknesses of a value system founded on competition, independence, and self-interest which encourages voters to act on their personal impulses to strike out at anything perceived to be threatening by supporting candidates or policies that may be immediately satisfying, but are by every other measure very damaging to the nation as a whole. Conversely, given that broad segments of the population have come to feel this way is a further indictment of the institutions and those within them to adequately address the population’s real and legitimate concerns and general well-being.
Programs based on social self-actualization would involve combining and coordinating resources with other like-minded groups and individuals with the objective of addressing community needs with the goal of solving, not simply maintaining the problem. While the current reach of these programs and available resources will be insufficient to fulfill the ultimate goal, the effort would be important in demonstrating intention and the feasibility of the means by which such goals might be realized. In the meantime, such programs could still be considered successful if they contribute to making people’s lives a bit easier and hopeful. Another part of the agenda would be advocacy for a basic income program, a General Investment Fund to be funded by dividends of ‘shares’ derived from an aggregation of profits derived from the economy as a whole as an issue that could garner further attention and support.
A New Paradigm
Coupling the facts that the social structure as we have known it is in decline – made evident in its inability to constructively address the challenges facing it – with tangible success in building the foundations of a new social value structure, will lead people who want something better for themselves and their communities to participate. Again, what the process of self-actualization means in a social context would not be too dissimilar to that of the individual.
- A society that possesses its own sense of meaning and purpose.
- Being self-aware where those running social institutions seek to understand the underlying motivations for the actions it takes and policies that makes, while being equally mindful of the consequences they have for individuals.
- To fulfill its responsibilities to individuals by providing for their physical security, a system for a fair and sustainable distribution of resources, and to facilitate their drive for self-actualization, which includes the promotion of a psychologically flexible, future-oriented perspective, as well as the sustenance of a healthy
- Social self-actualization means the striving of social institutions to build resilience and efficiency so as to insure they remain stable as they grow overtime, and in the process become ever better in serving the needs of individuals in a perpetual virtuous cycle supporting mutual self-improvement.
If you have any comments I would love to see them so please post them below.