A View of the Whole

Apple TreeAn Agent of Habitat will need a different way of seeing the world


than the one we are taught in western culture. In some ways it may sound like a view from an eastern culture but there are still significant differences. Humans are neither masters of the earth nor destined to suffer until enlightenment. Humans are a part of the Living System on this Planet (LSP). All the individuals of all the species alive at any given time are the LSP. As we humans come to understand our part in the processes creating life we are the LSP becoming aware of itself.


The LSP is expressed in different places at different intensity. As we have discussed earlier these expressions occur on a continuum. At one end of the continuum there are few individuals of the many species participating. This is the barren and sterile end of the continuum. As many individuals of the different species as can possibly participate are at the other end of the continuum. This is the healthy and beautiful end of the continuum.

Think of movement on the continuum the way you would think of inflating and deflating a balloon. At the beginning there are very few participants in the living system. At the very beginning, about four billion years ago, the LSP was one cell first dividing. As the descendants of that cell diversified there was an increase in the complexity of interactions. We, the descendants of that first cell, are all the individuals of all the different species alive today.

Over the millennia the number and diversity of individuals participating in the LSP has diminished like a balloon deflating and expanded like a balloon inflating as our ancestors faced asteroid impacts, ice ages and extreme volcanism and then rebounded as species adapted to the conditions they found on this planet. These past 10,000 years we humans have been simplifying the interactions within the LSP and reducing the variety of species participating . . . deflating the balloon. We humans are equally capable of figuring out how to increase the diversity of participation and re-inflate the balloon.

Health and beauty is not just about the number of participants. Each participant must be able to find what they need to thrive flowing through the pattern of interactions. Each individual must fit in the pattern. As the diversity of participants increases there is an increase in the places to fit. As diversity increases there are more ways to use the products of each interaction. This is an increase in the efficiency of the LSP . . . an increase in the energy cycled rather than dissipated.

The role of humans is not to control the participation in any given place. Our history since the beginning of agriculture demonstrates that the attempt to control moves the system in the direction of sterile and barren. The role of humans is not to seek a passive existence without participation. The release of desire and living in the moment is an abdication of our power to participate in the creation of the world. The role of humans is to use our influence to move the system in our place in the direction of health and beauty.


Examine your own feelings about your role in the world.


Plant PropagatorsWhen you think about poverty, environmental degradation or climate change whom do you think is to blame? When you think about solving these problems where do you think we will find the resources to fix things? Or, perhaps, you think these matters will take care of themselves . . . all we can do as individuals is our own job . . . all we can do is the best we can to provide for ourselves and our families?

The LSP is built up from the participation of the individuals alive at this point in time. Every participant contributes to the flows cycling through the system. It is that pattern of flows that provides the things each individual needs to survive and thrive. The pattern of interactions that constitute the LSP produces the oxygen we breathe, much of the fresh water we drink, the food that we eat, the goods and services we buy, and the information we use. All these are generated through the interaction of living things.

Each individual of every species has a primary drive. That drive is to find what “I” need to continue in existence. The successful individuals will reproduce and continue that species' participation through the next generation.

Some species have a secondary drive. That drive is to find what “my” group needs to continue in existence. When a honey bee sacrifices her life in defense of the colony she is acting according to this secondary drive. The groups that are able to obtain what they need continue in existence through the next generation of individual participants.

HarvestThis secondary drive is a powerful determinant in human choice. Zealots choose based on the needs of their religion. Patriots choose based on the needs of their nation. Business people choose based on the needs of their company. Fathers and Mothers choose based on the needs of their family. Many of us have more than one of these identities and sometimes these needs come into conflict. We are happiest when all these choices come into balance. We experience stress when they are out of balance.

All of the choices of all of the individuals and groups create the pattern of flows in which we find ourselves. This pattern of flows is the context within which each individual makes their choices. Some choices can increase the number and variety of individuals participating.

Increasing participation means additional contributions to the flows. With more flowing there is room for more participation. With more flowing it is easier to find what we need to thrive.


As individuals come to realize this relationship between participation and flow we create a tertiary drive.


The tertiary drive is to find ways to increase participation in the system in order to increase the flows and make it easier for individuals, including “ourselves”, and groups, including “our” groups, to find what they need to survive and thrive. To find ways to increase participation we must be able to follow the flows through whole cycles. It is no longer enough to have one skill that gets us a job. An Agent of Habitat becomes more effective as they nurture many skills at the level of all three drives.



activist/wizard/jedi knight



Bee YardWe agents all still have the primary drive to fulfill our individual needs. Nothing is possible unless those needs are met. Our goal is to learn how all the parts fit together, as a scientist. We know that we can never grasp the awesome complexity of the whole pattern and maintain the humility of the mystic. We will apply what we learn, testing our assumptions, and actively pursue our goals as an entrepreneur.


We humans are social creatures and agents still have the secondary drive to contribute to the success of our groups. We will advocate for our groups in order to place them in the best light possible. We will seek to be wizards of appropriate technology to give our group every advantage. We will anticipate threats in order to shield our group like a jedi knight.


All the individuals acting on their primary and secondary drives create the habitat that we experience. That habitat sets limits on what individuals and groups can do. Compare the limits in your place with the limits in a place such as war torn Syria.

We agents seek the understanding to move those limits. We seek as broad a knowledge as possible as a general knowledge allows us to understand all the specialists and translate among them. Through seeking knowledge, translating, and nurturing our own practices we can make the choices that move our habitat in the direction of health and beauty.


In A Welcoming Place we defined Habitat as all the interactions within the LSP that affect us. We defined locality as all the interactions within the LSP that we can affect. These two concepts define our place in the system. An Agent of Habitat views the LSP as expressed in their place in the way a patriot views their nation. It is where we see our duty. It is our identity. The world we want requires new relationships with all the living things around us . . . and space (flows) for additional living things to join us. Only the residents of a place can accomplish that.

Holding open an offer to participate to an individual viewing the world through the drive to obtain what they need requires a different approach than the one we make to an individual viewing the world through the drive to meet the needs of their group. Whether any individual is right or wrong in a choice from any given perspective is not the issue. The issue is the direction on the continuum the system is moving as a result of our choices.


Here is how an Agent of Habitat views the common assumptions in our culture:

Earth Links

If I believe that there is nothing that I can do, if I believe that our market economy and representative democracy are the best that humans can do, I do not need to be concerned with those individuals of the many species that have no place in the market. I may feel sad. I may give to charity. But I will not feel responsible for the problems in the world.

If I believe that resources are scarce, or that we must have money to fix the problems of the world, I will not seek out the resource of the human and biological potential all around me.

If I believe that someone else is responsible, if I think someone else should change their behavior and that will fix the problems of the world, I will not be doing my part to move the LSP, as expressed in my place, in the direction of health and beauty.


In short hand, if you believe that the market can solve all our problems, or that resources are scarce, or that someone else is responsible, your choices are based upon an assumption about your role in the world. If you are ready to move past these three assumptions that prevent us from creating the world that we want, if you are ready to become an Agent of Habitat, please reach out.

At this point in the development of the Living System on this Planet there are precious few of us who have developed this tertiary drive to take responsibility for the health of our place.  We have the opportunity to develop a common language about the design and build out of the world we want. As individuals who see this potential begin working together we increase our influence. We can increase our ability to share the message and get more people choosing to use their influence to increase participation in their place.  Our influence can only grow as we connect and begin to work together. Through that act of connecting and growing our influence we will be the Living System on this Planet becoming aware of itself.


Table of Contents - Synopsis

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