brain image
Ways to Mitigate the Forces'
Negative Effects

To some, it may be depressing to realize how many of our contemporary problems are, at root, matters of how people feel—especially about the world we live in, and our role within it.  We’re more used to hearing accounts of our troubles couched in economic or technical or political terms, which gives the impression they’re almost mechanical, like an overheating car, with clear physical solutions like replacing a stuck thermostat.

Malfunctions rooted in emotions and the human psyche may seem too “squishy” and subjective to allow much confidence in our ability to apply practical remedies.  Such maladies can also appear rooted, to a discouraging degree, in basic human nature, from which we’ve learned by hard experience not to expect much change.

But we need not be paralyzed by such uneasiness.  We all know from practical experience that there are lots of things that tend to make people unhappy—like not having a job or clean water, or being victims of unending neighborhood crime. That doesn’t stop us from trying to alleviate these problems.

Among the Eight People-Oriented Ways of Explaining Today’s World, feeling small and insignificant—often because we see ourselves as only spectator-cconsumers—is a clear leader in toxic effects, including endless neo-tribal warfare as well as mass shootings.  Surely there are things we can do to help the average person feel less small.

Actually, certain techniques for doing this have been known to architects and city planners for decades.  They’ve learned that when there’s too much focus on creating monumental, impressive structures, and not enough attention paid to “human scaling”—little shops, sidewalk tables, small pocket parks, etc.—people experience the environment as overbearing, cold, and ultimately demeaning (think parade routes in North Korea). 

Would it be so hard to apply human scaling to more than just our physical environment?