The Search for Human Kind


An article by Natalie Angier reports:  “In the view of the primatologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, the extraordinary social skills of an infant are at the heart of what makes us human.”  “Dr. Hrdy wrote her book in part to counter what she sees as the reigning dogma among evolutionary scholars that humans evolved their extreme sociality and cooperative behavior to better compete with other humans.”

Dr. Hrdy believes that the basic qualities that make us human are our capacity to cooperate in groups and to empathize with others.

Maybe that’s why I feel so sad every morning when I read the paper — fighting, winning, debating.  Why? I think we are fighting because we think it’s fun — not because we want to build a better world.  I deeply doubt if we can build a better world by fighting. It takes us nowhere good.  We already know that.

Maybe the Dalai Lama is right.  Maybe the most deeply human quality is compassion.

Follow the Rules and you won’t need Blame Placing

090213sunset_dsc8844ssAll this blame-placing in politics prompts me to remember what my father told me about the world and how to get along in it. He was occasionally wrong, but he was right about the eternal laws of how things work. So many things the media fuss over, they seem to be surprised, but in fact were completely predictable if we just listen to how things work.

There are rules out there, folks. Big ones and little ones. The little rules we humans can change because we make them for ourselves. But the big reality rules – we can’t change those because they are bigger than human. They are the reality of Life (remember Huston Smith’s definition of The Creation – that it is reality; just as it really is). For the past 10 years I have been watching as we broke every one of the forever reality rules, and today I stand amazed that the “experts” can’t seem to understand why we are suffering the natural consequences of what we have done. So this week I’ll talk about the forever rules of The Reality.

1-Everything we do today has consequences tomorrow. We can each make tomorrow a little bit better or a little bit worse. For example, if you are not honest, most people will not trust you. If you start a war most people will not like you. If you turn left now, that oncoming car will hit you. It’s not rocket science. For our children, we should take as much time as it takes to figure out the natural consequences of whatever we decide to do. Before we do it.

2-Sometimes people excuse themselves from thinking about consequences by saying that everything goes in cycles – like the earth around the sun and the carbon cycle that sustains life on earth, and the cycles of history where there is always a bad guy who wants to use all the power of the community for himself only. That’s like saying it doesn’t matter what we do. But it’s not true. Yes, there are lots of cycles. A carbon cycle, an oxygen cycle, but not everything cycles. Time does not cycle and energy does not cycle in our living world. That’s why we have evolution, because time and energy do not cycle; and that’s why we each need to be responsible for our own behaviors, because what we do changes the future (whether we know it or not).

3-You can’t get something for nothing. This is a very basic rule that runs all the way up to the earth ecosystem. It’s not possible to take, take, take, take and never re-balance what you have taken, because eventually we run out of things to take. That is, we run out of resources and someone down the line has to pay the piper – with interest. Everything we do is based on the available resources. When we run out of resources we can’t do anything.

4-Energy is a resource. All of life is based in energy. Someone wrote a book explaining that money is energy. Of course money is not energy, but she was right that all money is based in some kind of energy, and it’s another fact that energy does not cycle within our living system. Therefore if you try to recycle money – well, that’s a Ponzi scheme – Enron — Anything that doesn’t cycle, like time, space, and energy – you will sooner or later run out of it. Energy does not cycle and time does not cycle. That’s why things change. The only thing that is sustainable is balance.

5-Growth is not sustainable, because growth requires resources and it requires space. The only thing that is sustainable is balance.

6-We should not bite the hand that feeds us. Some people say that all of The Creation is a web of interactions – they say Indra’s web. It is true that everything is connected, but it’s not like me holding hands with you on one side and someone else on the other side. Instead, The Creation is a series of things that function and live inside of other things. Our eyes can function because they are part of us; we can function because we are part of the community. Right now we are living like parasitic worms in the gut of mother nature, with no concern for the consequences of our behavior and no respect for balance. A good parasite should not kill the community that gives it life.

But yes, we have an unusually large number of leaders now who are highly motivated and morally straight, so it’s interesting, but bottom line is we are reaping what we sowed and they can’t fix it unless they address the cause of the problem, which they are not doing.

Blame Placing

Senator Leahy of Vermont proposes a “truth-commission” to study excesses in the War on Terror. Senator John McCain claims the truth commission would only be an exercise in blame-placing.

Senator John McCain proposes a select committee to investigate the financial crisis to ensure the forces causing the collapse don’t reoccur.

Do you believe that Senator John McCain perhaps is more worried about who gets the blame than he is about ensuring the forces causing the collapse don’t reoccur?

Of course a goodly number of crooks were involved, but the primary cause of this and nearly all collapses  is pretty obvious. Nothing can grow forever. We are now proceeding to save ourselves by growing more.

Do you believe we can continue that method of saving ourselves — forever?

Do you think Senator John McCain will figure this out by using a “select committee?”

Or is this more an effort to avoid dealing with difficult facts than it is an effort to adapt ourselves to difficult realities?