PREFACEEver since humankind first made tools and controlled fire, life on Earth has been getting easier. By now, given Earth’s bounty and our burgeoning technology, all humans should enjoy secure lives in enriching culture. Yet most of the world’s people live lives of quiet, occasionally noisy, desperation. Half of humanity is severely deprived. The wealthy minority, who consume most of Earth’s bounty, often lead distressed and shallow lives.Remedying this situation is technically easy. The task is economically difficult but easily within reach. Unfortunately, it seems politically unlikely.Let’s explore the human ecology of this unfortunate human condition. Let’s apply human ecology to the design of culture in order to alleviate the mess and move toward the good life that all humankind deserves and can easily afford.Optimists look forward to great tomorrows. Pessimists see humankind going to hell in a hand basket. But let’s take a more objective look at the human condition, avoiding these distracting moods and other subjective indulgences, though we must include them in our analysis, objectively, of course. Let’s paint a new picture of the good life, then recreate our images of personal and cultural life. Ultimately, the purpose is to suggest minimal interventions to guide our culture toward greater value and health.Public discourse is in a sorry state these days – less talk, more TV. Today, people probably have less face-to-face conversation and talk less about the affairs of the day and the meaning of life than ever before in human history. Mental life is increasingly focused on TV and other mass media – a one-way communication from the spin doctors into the passive minds of the citizenry.The content of discourse has fallen into a pit of writhing cliches. One might argue that this has always been the case: that the human mind cannot grasp what’s going on or what supports human life and culture. Perhaps it’s fate, or the hand of God – through might and marketplace – that guides the progress of history. Ages ago there was a dogma, or at least a folklore, upon which we could pin ideas or disagreements. But current modes of thought seem mushy, without a context or frame of reference.We need a new frame of reference, a way to structure analysis and discussion, a simple set of ideas on which to hang our hats. We do not need a new dogma or belief system. That’s what drove us toward nihilism in the first place. Without a framework to help focus attention, groups can chatter endlessly and hopelessly, failing to come to grips with issues. But by working together rather than confronting each other, we can shift our attention from self to task, and thus alleviate the distractions of interpersonal conflict.The term “Let’s” in the title suggests that we should attend to our task together. Our task is to analyze the human condition through human ecology and improve our conditions through culture design. We humans have the responsibility for the fate of our culture and ecosystem. The analytical system presented as a framework in this book was gleaned from our tradition, then sifted into two tidy charts for the evaluation and diagnosis of systems in general. Reality is not made of words or charts; nevertheless, our thinking processes require such aids in order to deal with the infinitude of reality.This book is both a description of systems, and where they are broken or crippled, also a reconstruction manual. The first chapter offers a background for mutual understanding of reality and science, necessarily correcting a few errors in our intellectual tradition. The second chapter proposes a framework, a process theory, to aid in understanding and sharing a corrected image of our human ecosystem. The later chapters use these tools to explore psychology and sociology. Six more chapters and several dozen essays are available online at www.letsprehend.com.