Monday, April 4, 2011

the ambiguous path of humanity

I think of the animals, who go about their daily lives in the prescribed patterns that suit them.  They obtain their sustenance, reproduce, fight over mates, their food, and their territories.  There is the alpha male whom the others respect and fear, but he is not (typically) a tyrant.  The animals live how they live without question, with instinct.  A bird does not decide that his society is not working for him and go off to build a new colony of birds based upon a new philosophy of living.  He will leave the nest to start a family, but the methods of survival remain based upon the threads of instinct that have been woven through hundreds of past generations.

Despite all of the intelligence that humans (in general) possess, we haven’t yet found the optimal way to live; we still fight over the details that should have been worked out hundreds of years ago.  Evolution has failed our brains in this way.  Perhaps we did have a good idea about how to get it right once, but passed it by with our increasing knowledge and technology, and in gaining that we have lost much of the instinct that drives our survival.  We’ve become hammered down by the details and have lost the view of the big picture. 

With greater knowledge comes greater indecision about the "right" way to live.  As humans, we try to find our guides in religious texts, but there are so many modern questions that these don’t answer unless one skews the interpretation to fit their comfortable point of view.  The fact that there are hundreds of religions, sects and denominations shows that we are thoroughly confused.  So many choices, so many cultures, so many tints through which to view the world.  

Is there one perfect ideology for humans that will maximize our intelligence, needs, and wants, yet still perpetuate our species at a sustainable level while allowing us to respect all others that aren't human?  No, there is not, when seen through the lens of time.  As technology has grown, so have our wants, so what we think we want is a matter of the reality that we live in.  Our reality of today is different from even ten years ago.  We are now at the point in time when our needs and our wants have become reversed, with it easier to provide for our wants than our needs (it is easier to go to the store and buy a new cell phone than it is to grow food).  I believe that this is a dire situation for us.

Because we are of a higher thinking order than animals, maybe it’s not possible to find that one true path of living that is good (or right) for all, but shouldn’t the one true philosophy, that will bring happiness for all and preserve the earth, transcend politics and opinion?  How will we know when we have found it?  Or will we only discover it in retrospect, when all is lost?