Monday, December 17, 2012

A Human's Rant

We humans have evolved into self aware, intelligent beings. This allows us to understand our surroundings. It allows us to question the way the world works & figure out how. This is unlike any other animal which doesn't indulge beyond its base instincts of food & mating. Lets call it an inner biological need. A few reasons that we know which made us what we are, 
  1. An efficient way to store energy 
  2. Evolution of a complex language to generate, process & transmit thoughts. 
Once this structure was in place we could practically cruise around seamlessly with knowledge learned & retained from previous generations.

But the flip side of it was we started to develop elaborate formal systems around us. Formal systems where the rules of behaviour are standardized. These are our social, political, religious, economic, legal systems. This was perhaps the single handed exercise which has resulted in keeping the majority of us aligned & focused on a shared social goal - multiply our own kind. In all this we very occasionally become aware of the nature around us. We are so engrossed in our formal systems & rules of engagement that we often forget what we actually are at a biological level. We are only reminded of our true origins & our vulnerability when things start going wrong. 

We take a lot of pride in thinking that it is always better to get along very well with our current systems & excel within them. We have pulled a world over our own eyes full of structured, controlled & (perceived) certain outcomes. We indulge in them so heavily that we eventually take our biological footprint for granted. We tend to forget that under our skin of iphones, blackberry's & technology we are the same as other mammals that have been roaming around this planet for eons.

We are so convinced of our survival instincts & ingenuity in creating such systems that we have perhaps started to believe that this is the only right way to live. Whereas there is no such prescribed way of life in nature. There are several models of co-operation & survival in the jungle & all of them have their unique advantages. We perhaps indulge in our own political models of co-operation to suggest that we too have the same system, but it is just a little bit more structured & at a higher level of intelligence. We refuse to live on nature's autopilot & we choose to create our own autopilot systems. This ironically is something that comes very naturally to us. Find a working pattern & repeat. We have been accustomed to this way of living as a standard model of human life for who knows how long.

We have become dependant on it to the point of believing that everything that doesn't evolve into our system is potentially wrong. As some systems become more & more advanced they create aspirations for other primitive systems to imitate them. A successful system is valued more & believed to add more to the average daily life of humans. We go to any developed nation in the world & watch their use of this idea as a standard evolutionary fact. But we never seem to question if this assumption of evolution can ever be incorrect.

With this assumption we start looking more & more inward to seek what we need & try to recreate that need in real life with the use of technology or policy. For instance at some point we decided that we need to carry our music with us - all of it. So we found peace in a little tile shaped box with a round dial on it & a pair of white cables extending from our ears. We walked around with it for about a decade & evolved that idea into a way of life. We create latent needs into actual needs & transmit them as a new & more efficient way to live in the systems that we ourselves have created. It seems almost automatic. This is pervasive at all scales from personal to global.

We have basically outsourced the whole process of outward thought (thought about the world around us & our impact on it) to a small group of people. We call them our scientists. I use scientists as a general term which includes all those people doing any research in trying to understand things beyond the inner needs of humans. They study the space & the universe, they study our biological systems to find better ways of surviving, they study the planet, they study the elements of nature & human nature. They look beyond these systems & hope that the average person gets to acquaint with their world view through their research. All this also for the conformity of creating better systems than what we have at present.

The average person, instead of acknowledging that we are a part of the universe & that too a rather insignificant one, is incredibly busy in trying to cope with the systems that other humans have created. There is perhaps this creationist bias, where only ideas that are created by others are worth believing in. We start getting bigger & bigger in our own systems thru more wealth of knowledge, money, power, anything. We eventually reach a stage of believing that there is nothing greater beyond this. Perhaps religion & theistic beliefs have stemmed from such a latent human need to systematize the uncertainty around us. They have given us a reason to create our systems. Religion did try to bring in the respect for outer systems, but it has failed miserably & ended up creating atheists like me who wish to detach the propaganda from the true message. I see a pious man praying to a river & then throwing a plastic bag full of decaying flowers right in the middle of it. This is not religion.

One thought I can't shake off is what would happen if we started to channelize our latent inner curiosity - outwards? First of all is it biologically possible?

What would happen when we individually start to acknowledge our role (position/state to be precise) in the universe (which is pretty benign considering we are just perishable animals)? Will it change the way we treat our surroundings?

How will it affect our current social structures & would it make us better in relating to the needs of other species which inhabit the same space as us?

These questions push us into a thought which doesn't fit within our system, it seems like a plugin which needs to be installed from the outside. But before all this, we need to ask why should we do all this!

No comments: