Last night, I dreamed I had to run around and update everyone’s config files. Their settings were out of date. I knew they would run better with new settings, and so I updated those files, one after another. When I woke up, I realized that the dream wasn’t talking about literal config files — it was talking about something deeper, the underlying principles and rules by which most of us operate. Something in our basic configuration as a society isn’t working anymore.
Before I lose you, a config file is really just an old school word for settings. It’s the file where certain software stores the basic settings it needs to operate. But there’s a subtle difference. I work with web sites and I update settings all the time — but I don’t often update the config files which tend to stay the same except under unusual circumstances. These are very basic settings that underlie everything the software does. In a sense, they’re almost unconscious, which is what our own “configuration settings” tend to be.
Which leads me to a question: Could it be that our society is out of whack because we’re running on bad settings? It’s true that if you run new software on old settings (or old software on new settings), it will probably break. There will be missing pieces or simply wrong information. Could society be trying to run new software on old settings? Or old software on new settings? Or both?
It was the last part of the dream, right before I woke up, that made me think its import might be larger scale. I dreamed I had to take a bus to get to a client’s office, and the client was Barbara Sondag. She needed her config file updated too. Barbara represents “Municipal Government” to me, and when I woke up, I had the distinct impression that it wasn’t just people who needed settings updates — municipal government, and maybe government in general, needs to update its settings too.
This detail could be related: Late last night, Chris said to me after reading headlines, “Why are things starting to go well? I’m not used to things going well...” And we pondered together whether there has been a fundamental shift in people’s thinking that makes it harder for them to accept things like endless war, total surveillance, and many of the other insults of modern life. War and surveillance are part of the old configuration. People and peace are part of the new one.
If Chris is correct that things are starting to go better for a change, then maybe the settings updates I was doing in my dream are already happening. People and institutions are beginning to do this on their own. That would be the way to go, because I know that in real life, no one can give another person or institution a settings update. Just as you can’t legislate morality, the kind of update I’m talking about can only come from within.
But once the update is made, everything changes for the better. We need change to have hope, and we need hope to carry on. So bring on the settings updates! Only then we can we get with the new program, which hopefully will serve us better than the one we have which is old, clunky, crashy, and frustrating.