We are the Cleverest Stupidest Species
In Westernised countries the lives we live are relatively comfortable and easy. (Relative, that is, to the billions of people who live on a few pence a day. To them it’s survival. To us it’s coffee.) We go to the nearest shopping centre (temple) to pick up our groceries, maybe buy a package holiday and ogle at some gadgets. We have ample time to worship the gods of consumerism but no time to recreate our souls. Social progress or standing is linked to the attainment of material possessions. The supply chain is finely tuned to deliver our dreams. High fat foods and glitter allow us to escape for a while. Yet, high percentages of patients visiting GPs are ‘depressed’. They find it hard to cope with life. Many people feel lonely and are not part of any meaningful community. We have high rates of suicide and an increasingly obese population. A lot of us are dying to get away from it all.
It’s left brain (masculine) thinking, with no thought to mortality, which has delivered this Nirvana. Systemisation, problem solving, dealing in facts and applying logic (all good things in their place) have given us supply chain economics. We are all going to live forever so there is no need to worry about the massive fossil fuel subsidy which allows this system to exist. Nor need we worry about the mono cultures which are created by industrialised farming to feed us. (These are effectively ecological deserts, maintained by chemical fertilizers, and devoid of diverse insect and wildlife populations.) If you buy cheap clothing someone probably got exploited. The price is always paid somewhere down the line.
Any proponent of the Transition movement (http://www.transitionnetwork.org/) will tell you about the problem of Peak Oil. There are still lots of hydrocarbons down there but they are becoming exponentially more expensive to extract (and they will out run out). To me nothing sums up how stupid mankind is more than the rush to exploit the oil reserves in the Arctic. More of the same for profit. Really? We are the cleverest stupidest species on the planet.
You May Travel Faster Alone but Ask Yourself: “Where am I going?”
The Enlightenment gave us permission to prioritise our rational mind over soul and spirit. Well, we are where we are. I am not proposing that to bring balance we need to prioritize right brain thinking – creative, intuitive, reflective ,subjective (all good things in their place) for the next 300 years. We need both. For me personally I have difficulty in resolving the dichotomy of left brain/right brain. It is a duality within. Part of life’s work is to balance our creative and systematic self which gives us access to a deeper purpose and meaning. It is contemplating and acting. It is creativity and production for a higher purpose than mere personal gain, ego enhancement or profit. Currently we are using up resources, through market economics, without proper reflection. We create and maintain systems which are not healthy for the Earths inhabitants or its’ future generations.
Can we find common purpose with other people where each brings and offers the unique gift we have uncovered on life’s journey? Dare we think that as maturing individuals we might actually affect and change things for the better? There is a challenge here to the individual but it also makes sense that we can only find a real balance and fulfilment in finding, interacting with and serving our community. You may travel faster alone but ask yourself: “Where am I going?” Its clichéd, but I think it’s true. We will only really arrive anywhere meaningful if we are part of and contributing to something bigger than ourselves.