Is the human reflected in society? Do our civilisations echo how we are as individuals, with all our complex components, such as our physical health and our sense of self – our psychology?
It’s a complex question. My personal belief is that the answer is yes, and at times of great stress and transition for mankind, that reflection, that mirroring, is amplified – often in a very ugly way. Such times are very stressful, as they represent gateways of great danger for humanity. But it’s danger with a silver lining, in the sense that they provide an opportunity for an equally great ‘clearing out’ of how we live.
I sit here, typing, with our cat, Misti, on my knee. She likes it there. It’s cosy. She has just been fed, in a warm house, and most of her primal needs as an animal-organism have been met. She has intelligence – but it’s instinctive cleverness, based on selfishness. Her selfishness is no threat to the planet, and her eyes beam real love at me. We’re very fond of each other – but that’s not unusual, as any pet lover will attest. She’s a completely different life-form to the human, but we chose to care for her and provide for her hierarchy of needs, including love, to cap it all.
We are similarly cared for by our solar system. Spinning in space, ninety-three million miles from a solar super-entity that sacrifices a huge part of its life force every second is our common home, the Earth.
We did not create the Earth, though we have created many wonderful things upon it. The whole of organic life on Earth has developed in reaction to that Earth. Evolution, viewed as survival, is a mechanism that teaches that the microbes, plants and animals that thrive do so because they live long enough and strongly enough to reproduce. Mathematics takes care of the rest.
Until we hit a barrier to expansion…
Intelligence invites us to investigate the truth. Organic truth is what keeps us alive. There are other forms of truth and they are more complex. Living together in a ‘container’ like a nation implies that we are brought face to face with the complexity of sharing. At the start of civilisation, we don’t want to share, so we use our bigger and better club to kill or, at least, maim, those who want our stuff. Eventually – though there are lots of exceptions – we realise that by working together our combined intelligence allows us to break through one or more of the barriers to expansion that face our tribe/region/nation – such as protection from the weather, mass health or sanitation.
When we were children, we may have watched Robin Hood, William Tell and various Cowboys and Indian films. It is essential to the plot of such entertainment that there is a clearly identified bad guy. Killing them solves the problem to our expansion. Some kids – bullies – try it out in the playground and it works. Later on, sadly, one or two of them bring real guns back into school and kill real people. Good education later teaches us that life is not so simple and invites us to join the world of adults, emotionally as well as intellectually. Some people don’t make the transition, but it may not stop them being powerful.
Maturing is the process of coming to terms with how things really are. That’s intelligence: adaptation of behaviour in the light of truth. We learn, we experiment to test our learning, we refine. Always, we have in mind that there is such a thing as truth. We teach the notion of truth as being vital to our perceived civilisation. Philosophers and psychologists teach it as being essential to our way of life, too, since it anchors us as close to the objective world as we can be. By ‘objective’ here I mean what ‘is’ as opposed to what we subjectively experience. Sometimes objective truth is unobtainable – it’s just too complex to arrive at, but we should always try.
Continue reading here.