Of What I Know and What I Don’t Know

I felt a little disappointed by the tone in which I ended my last post about bison and humans. And that’s because I woke up one day to one example of the great deed that humanity can do when in need. As I was reading the news about the terrible course of the events in Ukraine, events that indirectly influenced my views of the differences between human and animals, I seen an astonishing example of humanity. People from around the world, having in common the usage of a booking platform, spontaneously decided that instead of reserving accommodations for their own to do that for the refugees fleeing the horrors of war in Ukraine. Despite the world of people being led by governments, elected leaders, hereditary monarchies, tyrants, and lunatics, the humanity itself has a great wisdom, compassion and power.

The inhabitants of large economies are taking things for granted because they are part of a certain place. The faith has put them in a certain place. Others might look at them as too full of themselves, ignorants or just lazy. But when faced with challenges, they might act. And for compassion, they can prove they have plenty.

The human is an imperfect being. Being imperfect might be their most important characteristic. Back when they developed their brains to survive a cruel world, they probably discovered how imperfect they were, poor hungry animals struggling to survive a harsh environment in which the stronger always ate the weaker. Taking a unique path in their evolution, they tried to continuously perfect themselves. The result, after thousand years of civilisation, is that stayed the same imperfect beings. In their stubbornness, they did not cease to reach the perfection. Instead, against all the odds, they continue to be the imperfect beings they were and they will be.

Reaching the top of the trophic pyramid comes with advantages and responsibilities. Ruling the world can’t be done without compromise, and more than that, without errors. Humans organized themselves in smaller groups, then they enlarged their communities to larger extends. To maintain the bonds needed to ensure cohesion of these groups, they developed tools and skill, invented technologies. They invented nations to keep together tribes in certain geographical areas. Those nations grew naturally and gradually, then swallowed other nations and created kingdoms and empires. Empires came and went down in history, but all left important legacies.

Nowadays, thanks to the unbelievable progress of communications, the trend is the creation of a unique nation, easily connected. Some call it globalization. We all look at it with some kind of concern, as it is obviously something we have never experienced before. Conservative as we are, we are always trying to connect dots in our history, thinking history more as a cyclic movement and not a linear one.

Humans are also individualist, and they always were, thanks to some developments in our brain. The globalization will erase the existing bonds we are familiar with between families, communities, nations, etc. But it might create a powerful body of individuals that will have common goals. In order to survive, these global nation, will need to clearly trace the boundaries between good and bad. Doing that is the essential step to the salvation of humanity.

I grew optimistic today, thinking and hoping the humanity will find the way towards it. Because, essentially, we are not just reasonable beings, but deeply compassionate. What takes us off the track to make the mistakes leading to wars, cruelty and greediness, is a question I can find no answer.

The human had to become a warrior in order to survive. We had to protect ourselves from foes of all kinds. The nature made humans different, giving the males more physical strength compared to women. Therefore, men created and bettered the art of war. and the art of power. Women, instead, developed a different king of strength, one that is essentially not accessible to men. But that strength made the men to be men. The connection between the mother and her male child ends in the adulthood or maybe even before that, and the men are throwing themselves into the cruel world that the men created for humans. A world in which the strong has to overcome the weak one. A world in which the competition is the supreme motivation, no matter what we compete for. History has taught us that at certain times in certain areas, the women had control over their societies. The outcome of that is profoundly not very clear to us, since the men took over as rulers again. Nowadays, women take the lead more and more, mainly in more advanced societies. Nevertheless, they are so far away from being a majority or to have a stronger hold on the mechanisms of power. The men will have difficulties to cease the power since their world is founded on competition. I have read about the indigenous American being organized in societies with no governments, but in which the decisional process was in the hand of women in times of peace and quickly transferred in the hands of men in times of war. It is questionable how the process of transition from peace to war worked or what made a tribe declare war on other, when women were supposed to be in charge. Should men had had any means of persuasion?

I hope the more political power the women will take, the more peaceful the world will become. I know is idealistic, or even utopian, but haven’t great ideas been born out of ideals? Since the manly experiment failed for so many millennia, shouldn’t we try this option?

The extraordinary advancement of technology happened in a generation lifetime. All humans hold on devices easily accessible to access information, knowledge, tools. By the way the technological progress works, we should see these devices become more and more accessible and powerfully efficient. The human biological evolution put a stark difference between human and other animals by the way our brains developed, giving us total authority over the world. The usage of smart devices, the total reliance on their encyclopedic, informational and analytical power will lead to less need for the human brain to perform their tasks. Will that lead to a general brain shrinkage, or it will just release more energy for the brains to focus on other things? What will be those other things? What is the brain to do with all this suddenly and easily available information? As we know, the human is weak and imperfect. Being weak might lead them to think they have ultimate power over the world, and being imperfect might lead them to think they know all. This weakness and imperfection puts us in a place to make dangerous mistakes. Thinking and acting as a group, a large one that unfolds over the entire planet, might lead to undesirable results. Do we know what we want for the future of our kind, of our planet? Our history has demonstrated that large groups of people, families, tribes and nations needed elites in order to make important decisions, in order to put their development, their future on a certain path. What are the elites? How do they take control and how can we identify them? We have so many unfortunate and tragic examples of wrong “elite” and good ones. It’s still questionable how we, as a species, can discern between good and bad. As the perfection is difficult to achieve, how much can we improve ourselves to make the right choices?

There is obviously a disconcerting imbalance between what we think we know and what we don’t. But it might be a good balance between the beneficial and detrimental options we have ahead of us. For that reason, we should feel optimistic about our future, because is one for which the right choices are there to be chosen. It is only up to us to the make proper use of our imperfection.

As I was laying down these rows on the screen of this device, I was remembering the words of Wendell Berry from The Peace of Wild Things. I will end this post with this beautiful poem and I will continue to hope and dream.

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound…
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

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