As we well know, Homo Sapiens is a social life form. Like their immediate predecessors, the great apes, our ancestors lived as extended family groups. However, between them and apes (with the sole exception of bonobos) has been a fundamental difference. While the extended families of humans were matrilineal, the groups of apes were ruled by the leading male. Matrilineal means that the identity of a member of such a group was based on the mother principle.
The size of these groups was not too large: according to the archeological finds, it varied from 20 to 30 members. What is the reason for that is a matter of speculation. Still, the prevailing opinion is that this size permitted the forming of the close, family-like relationship between its members. This format is still preserved among African Hadza people, some pygmies also from Africa and maybe elsewhere.
In our modern times, we, as a rule, live in nuclear families consisting of parents and children, while other family members may be dispersed all over the world. As soon as children grow up, they usually leave the parental family and establish their own similarly to many animals such as birds or solitary cats.
Among humans, this form began relatively late in history. For a long time, some residua of close family connections based on living in proximity continued, particularly in rural areas, until relatively recently. Now, the family nuclearization reached its peak. The old parents became an annoying burden, and aunts or uncles, if possible, are conveniently ignored.
I would like to point out that it is not a result of some moral decline, this trend has nothing to do with morality. Instead, it is both the result and the cause for the cult of individualism and consumerism. The nuclear families, by their very structure, have to consume more than it would be necessary for the extended families. They need separate apartments or houses, one or more cars, many appliances, and so on. It must not be surprising that such a living pattern, as much as possible, is propagated by the existing system.
It has a profound impact on our vision of the world: we are taught to admire independence and individualism. However, when the world undergoes profound disturbances and the convenient technological, and social infrastructure falls apart, then the nuclear families are helpless, having no idea how to survive. At such times the advantage of society based on the closely connected groups, having family-like interpersonal relationships, becomes apparent.
However, it is not the only reason why group living is preferable than individualistic and nuclear. It goes along with our genetic inheritance formed during hundreds of thousand years of the communal lifestyle of our predecessor hunters/gatherers. Without knowing such an abstract concept, due to their innate wisdom, they survived and continued their unbelievable development. Returning to that social structure seems to be not only logical but enjoyable, and for those reasons, the proposed social structure would consist of small, family-like groups called Wisdom nuclei.
Principles of Wisdom nucleus
The Wisdom nucleus (in the future, the word Wisdom would be omitted) embodies all the fundamental principles of WS. Let us start with the name nucleus. In a multicellular organism, which is the first manifestation of society, the name of an element from which it is formed is a cell. I was tempted to call the smallest unit of WS “cell,” but unfortunately, the word “cell” was used by Lenin, and later Stalin for units of the Communist party. Having the “privilege” of living in such a system, I decided that any association must be avoided.
Looking at a biological cell, we discover that its most critical part is the nucleus. Thanks to it, a cell can function and multiply because it is the host of its genome. So I decided that the nucleus would be the name, which will be used in the future description of WS.
I begin the description of the most essential qualities of a nucleus with the issue of wisdom practice. Members of a new nucleus, even before it has been formed, have been involved with this practice. And, due to that, most likely, they were able unanimously decided to go ahead. It is very remotely possible to reach such a decision otherwise.
This practice is necessary to discover our innate altruism, make relations between members close and flexible and use humour as the weapon against anger and depression. It is worth emphasizing that wisdom practice has nothing to do with any religion nor ideology. In essence, it is a direct and straightforward technique to recover what we have but forgot.
The next question concerns its size. It is suggested that a nucleus has around 20 to 30 members, including children. It is not a rule carved in stone, these numbers can vary, but too small or too large may create problems. Too small membership could make the nucleus fragile and not able to appropriately respond in case of emergencies. Also, it would limit the necessary specialization among its members. For example, the nucleus may need some who know how to build new facilities, others to maintain the existing ones, to cultivate plants, to provide communication, to organize education for children, and so on.
On the other hand, a too large number of members may lead to losing the closeness and warmth of relations needed to cultivate altruistic cooperation. Also, since as in all units of WS, decisions concerning a nucleus require consensus, the large numbers of members could make it lengthy and complicated.
Each nucleus should be self-sufficient in as far as food, water and energy are concerned. This is critically important in the case of an emergency when the external system is not capable of providing it. The necessity of having food and water is so obvious that further comments are not needed. Energy is necessary for heating during the cold weather, light and the cultivation of plants, using technology which will be discussed later on.
The self-sufficiency of the nucleus goes hand in hand with the overall WS principle of living in harmony with the natural environment. The word “harmony” is used because it implies ideas of balance and beauty. In a more prosaic sense, the nucleus in all his activities will attempt not to harm nature and, at the same time, provide all that its members need. The word “attempt” indicates that since nucleus functions with our present socio-economic system, it is sometimes forced to go along with its harmful aspects.
Nevertheless, a lot can be done within these constraints to help to slow down the swiftly degrading ecological situation. The most important are three aspects: the production of healthy food without using an unnecessarily large amount of water, herbicides, insecticides and degenerating the soil. Second is the production of energy without creating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The third aspect requires dedicating sufficiently large parts of its terrain for maintaining and even recreating the destroyed natural environment.
The next, equally important, guiding principle is taking care of each other and particularly the most vulnerable: children and elders. The children would benefit from being raised by all members of the nucleus rather than only by the parents. According to some archeo-psychologists, such diversified interaction helped the early Homo Sapiens in its spectacular development.
The elders, due to their long life experiences, are holders of wisdom. For that reason, in many aboriginal societies, when a tribe wants to make a decision, relegates it to the council of elders. As far as the nucleus is concerned, they play the same role as others though due to their age, their physical capacities may be impaired. However, they seem to be ideally suited to help in raising and educating children. The present, widespread belief that older people are not able to use modern technology such as the internet is an absurd propagated to such an extent that they believe in it.
Last but not least, the quality of the nucleus is its egalitarian character combined with the diversification of functions of its members. It manifests by unanimity in decision-making, and as it was said many times before, no one has any particular economic or social privileges. To further avoid any misunderstanding, the person who represents and organizes the everyday functioning of the nucleus is called coordinator instead of a leader.
Before ending, I want to assure the readers that I am not living in some kind of ivory tower, not knowing what is going on around me. I am fully aware of the exponentially growing COVID-19 epidemic and its repercussions. In the times, when in many countries, gatherings of people are nor only strictly forbidden but really dangerous, describing the principle of Wisdom nucleus may appear like some sort of Pollyanna fantasy.
However, it is not the case, I am writing to make us prepared to “catch the moment” after the epidemy will subside. At that time, many people will use their critical intelligence, look back and see that it was our present ignorant and fanatic capitalistic system, which was responsible for the past tragedy. They may also become aware that the COVID-19 pandemics was a direct warning signal for a potential catastrophe, which this system may produce. These people may decide to create a real alternative, and the ideas of Wisdom Society may become handy.