Humanity Has Been Cut Off from Its Future

HumanityFuture

As much as we may complain about a multitude of things going wrong in the world, I suspect that many of us have a nagging impression—in a seldom-visited but persistent corner of our minds—that we’re living through desperately boring times.

These are very loud times, of course, but that doesn’t make them less boring.

An endless stream of bad news passes over our screens every day, accompanied by the best flashing images that the entertainment corps can come up with… yet somehow we know that it’s all an empty set of distractions.

And our instincts are right. Aside from the Internet, the past 20 years have been a snore, filled with sameness and conformity. They have featured no goals save bodily comfort and no aspirations save existence and status. Underlying it all has been a palette of manufactured fears that can only be salved by buying the right products or electing the right politicians. It’s been an age that rewarded neuters and punished vigorous individuals.

It all reminds me of a phrase from the late ‘50s:

In the US, you have to be a deviant or die of boredom.

Certainly a few people have had exciting and meaningful lives during these years, but they were definitely not people who followed mainstream paths; they were, in the proper sense of the word, deviants.

“Where There Is No Vision, the People Perish”

The phrase above comes from the Bible’s book of Proverbs, and it expresses an important truth: Humans, in order to live effectively and happily, need a goal—a vision—to pursue.

This is known as “teleological motivation” (or simply “teleology”), and it shows up in areas ranging from small to large. For example, when you decide to walk across a room, you don’t plan the contractions of your muscles, you just define the goal and activate your will; subconscious systems take over from there. From top to bottom, that’s just how we work.

So, with no goal, with no vision, we languish. And that’s been the problem for a long time now.

Are status and sex really all we have to grasp for? Are we no more than clever apes, chasing the same prizes they do, albeit more elegantly?

If you ask people “Where are we all going?,” you’ll get empty looks in response. And that’s because we have nowhere to go. There is no vision in our times, and the only quasi-visions we have are “elect Senator X” or “win the big game.” These are hardly appropriate goals for an actualized human life.

Not Long Ago, There Was a Vision

50 years ago, a billion of us were shocked to realize that we could go to the stars. After untold centuries of looking to the heavens, of wondering, dreaming, and mourning the impossibility, we saw that we could go out into the heavens. And for 10 years we took our first steps, successfully!

Those of us who are old enough remember the time well… because we had a goal to stretch toward: we were headed into space!

This wasn’t science fiction; it was real. I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen, with my own eyes, a manned spacecraft leave Earth, to have known people who worked at NASA, and even to have met one of the men who walked on the moon. And I can tell you that the missions to the moon were accomplished by normal human beings, just like you and me.

Heading into space was not fiction during my youth—it was a present fact… and it stood to change nearly everything.

That real and present goal is lost to us now. A few probes leave Earth’s gravity, but no more men and women.

What We’ve Lost

What we’ve lost can only be measured in the billions of unactivated lives.

After our first few steps out of our cribs, we were thrown back and surrounded with double-height rails. Since then, we’ve stagnated, and human culture has undergone a deep rot.

Now, we may watch sci-fi dramas about going to space, living in space, and even fighting in space, but we have given up all hope of going ourselves… even though it was done just one generation ago.

Humanity—having recently discovered the ability to expand without limit—wanders aimlessly, with no challenging goal, no elevated purpose, and no path of escape. Space travel was real just a few decades ago, and now it is lost to us.

And what became of the years since our vision was removed? There has been no striving, no searching, no becoming.

When we lost space, we lost our future.

Ever since then, we’ve had no brave goal to strive for, no magnificent vision to pursue. Several decades on, we remain in a kind of stasis, mollified with streaming vanities and base satisfactions.

Humanity’s future has been stolen and replaced with flashing pictures, cravings for “stuff,” and endless politics. It would be a joke, if it weren’t so pitiful.

Could space be replaced as a goal by something else? Sure, but it hasn’t been. And even if it were, we’d always know that the greatest adventure of all was once in our hands and is available no more. And unavailable is what it will stay, unless and until we decide to take it back, whether boss-men like it or not.

Paul Rosenberg
www.freemansperspective.com

This article was originally published by Casey Research.

We Have Undervalued Ourselves

undervaluedGrowing up, I heard lots of complaints from parents and teachers about children being conceited, proud, and arrogant. Looking back, it seems to me that most of these complaints were related to a failure to obey. We did have one or two kids who were arrogant jerks, but the rest of us received the same comments they did.

But whatever motivated the adults of my youth, they were mostly wrong – it’s not our overvaluation of ourselves that is the real problem; it’s our undervaluation.

Here is a passage from G.K. Chesterton’s The Defendant that makes this argument:

There runs a strange law through the length of human history — that men are continually tending to undervalue their environment, to undervalue their happiness, to undervalue themselves. The great sin of mankind, the sin typified by the fall of Adam, is the tendency, not towards pride, but towards this weird and horrible humility.

I think Chesterton was entirely correct, and I think we have all been surrounded by, and influenced by, a “weird and horrible humility.”

Most of us, most of the time, fear making errors, think about our failures and deficits, and live in a sea of guilt. Not only is this dark self-image unnecessary, but it degrades us and is built upon falsehoods.

We are, since childhood, trained to view ourselves as dangerous creatures, teetering on the edge of error and harm. We absorb these ideas through what currently passes as “law” and by parts of modern religion… particularly the doctrine of “original sin.”

Even the definition of “good” is held to be “selflessness,” which clearly maintains that “self” is bad.

Bear in mind that I’m not saying all humans are good. Clearly, some of them are violent and vile. But these are a small minority, and we should not lump normal people in with them.

The System as It Is

The world system we were all raised in is built on the assumptions noted above: that people are dangerous, need to be controlled, and must be held in a permanent fear of punishment.

Furthermore, the system requires us to feel inferior, uncertain, and flawed:

  • Free, confident people don’t just obey because someone in a particular costume tells them to; they require a reason.
  • People who think on their own easily understand that when they are told, “The law requires this,” it really means, “Do this or we’ll hurt you.” And they also grasp that such statements are orders backed by violence, not reason.
  • People who are free from guilt do not feel inferior and do not automatically comply with authority.

Whenever it is that a significant number of people develop healthy psyches, modern systems of rulership, including “law and order,” will fail. These systems assume that they will always enjoy instant and unreasoned obedience. Once that changes, they will be ill-suited to survive.

Under the modern scenario of rulership, a truly healthy person is the proverbial “square peg,” and ruling institutions are the proverbial “round hole.” The two do not fit together naturally.

Other Views of Humanity

While my disapproval of doctrines such as “original sin” stands, it’s worth noting (for believers and nonbelievers alike) that this low opinion of mankind is not really a biblical thing. Consider these passages:

You are gods. All of you are children of the most high. (This was first spoken by David, then repeated by Jesus.)

You have crowned him (man) with glory and honor, and set him above all the works of your hands.

The noted psychologist Abraham Maslow found the same thing as Chesterton, by the way. He writes,

Human history is a record of the ways in which human nature has been sold short. The highest possibilities of human nature have practically always been underrated.

And as Maslow went about to study the healthiest and best people, he ran into another problem:

Even when ’good specimens,’ the saints and sages and great leaders of history, have been available for study, the temptation too often has been to consider them not human but supernaturally endowed.

In other words, human nature has been depreciated, and when a clearly good case comes along, it is promptly identified as being something other than human.

It has been an imperative that “human” must equal “broken and untrustworthy.” This is a false, degrading, and cruel sentiment; yet our current world systems rest fully upon it.

Last thoughts

In another passage in The Defendant, Chesterton writes,

Every one of the great revolutionists, from Isaiah to Shelley, have been optimists. They have been indignant, not about the badness of existence, but about the slowness of men in realizing its goodness.

If we could drop the dark images we hold of ourselves and accept credit for the good things we do, we would partake of pleasure without guilt, and we would have a greater capacity to experience beauty, awe, and wonder in our everyday lives.

Whenever it is that we come to understand ourselves and the true nature of the world, doing the right thing will cease being a burden. We will do the right thing simply because any other action would be stupid.

Give this some thought of your own, please.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com

Are You a Gorilla or a God?

god or gorillaHumanity stands about halfway between gorillas and gods. The great question that looms over us, is this: “Which will we incorporate into our lives? Gorilla things or God things?”

The choice is ours. Yes, various choices are thrust upon us all our lives, accompanied with various levels of intimidation and threat, but at some point, all of us find ourselves able to choose freely. And it is then that we go in one direction or the other. We are able to change directions of course, but every time we choose, we move a step in one direction or the other.

What We Are

Please understand that I am not endorsing any specific theories here – religious, scientific, or otherwise. I’m merely describing the situation in which humanity finds itself. We are halfway between gorillas and gods: The worst things we do are gorilla-like, and the best things we do are god-like. Either direction is open to us.

Strange as it may seem, we are a lot like apes. Our bodies are built in the same ways, our body chemistry is nearly identical, and the worst aspects of human nature are essentially the same as the worst aspects of primate behavior.

We are also a lot like gods. We transcend entropy; we create. We can touch the soul in others, and the best aspects of human nature are essentially the same as the best characteristics attributed to the gods.

This is not what we can be; this is what we are. What we become in the future depends on whether we choose gorilla things or god things, here and now.

What Are Gorilla and God Things?

Gorilla things are those which operate on a dominant/submissive model. Hierarchy (high-level individuals controlling lower-level individuals) is the blueprint of the gorilla world. Dominant gorillas seek status and the power to control others. The submissive apes seek to pass along their pain to the apes below them (females, juveniles, etc.) and to avoid punishment. They are servile toward the dominants and cruel toward those they are able to dominate. Females trade sex for favors.

God things operate on a creative model. Blessing is the blueprint of the god world: distributing love, honesty, courage, kindness, blessing, awe, gratitude, and respect into the world and to other humans.

Gorilla things are these:

  • The desire to rule.
  • The desire to show superiority and status.
  • Servility.
  • Avoidance of responsibility.
  • Reflexive criticism of anything new.
  • Abuse of the weak or the outsider (women, children, Gypsies, Jews, immigrants, homosexuals, etc.).

God things are these:

  • Producing things that preserve or enhance life.
  • Invention and creativity.
  • Expressing gratitude and appreciation.
  • Experiencing awe and transcendence.
  • Adaptability and openness.
  • Improving yourself and others.

The Two Wolves

You’ve probably heard the old story of the two wolves: A young boy becomes angry and violent, and then feels guilty about his violence. He goes to his grandfather for advice. The old man says, “You have two wolves inside you: one of them is nice, the other is dangerous, and they’re fighting inside of you.”

The boy then asks his grandfather, “Which one will win?” The old man replies, wisely, “Whichever one you feed.”

In the same way, humanity becomes like gorillas or gods depending on whether we put gorilla things or god things into our lives.

I’m not going to tell you this is always easy, but the difficulty hardly matters: Somehow, we’ve been given a choice between becoming gorillas or becoming gods. No other creatures in this world have been given such a choice.

Bring god things into your life, and reject gorilla things. It doesn’t matter if these things are hard – you are defining your own nature between two wildly different options, every day.

Leave gorilla stuff to the gorillas.

Building god stuff into your life is your job, my job, everyone’s job.

Paul Rosenberg
FreemansPerspective.com