The hardest part is pinpointing a beginning. That one moment from which everything can spring forth and branch out, making sense as much to the writer as the reader. The problem in this case, is that everything is interrelated, and there is no easy beginning from which we can take a simple stroll from, walking down a straight path from start to finish. This can be done when taking every single detail and unrolling them, but not when we consider something as complex as the human mind, which is what is at stake, in this case.
We constantly try to simplify things, but what I want to discuss is complex, because it has to do with our history, our sociology, and our philosophy. It has to do with body and mind. It can’t be simply unraveled as a single, unwavering path, because one thing encompasses another, and all are interrelated. I’m not trying to be cryptic, only to prepare the reader mentally to a different kind of thought process.
So instead of picturing a straight road, put the image of a brain in front of you. Inside this brain are millions of paths, going from neuron to neuron, firing off and thinking a million different thoughts, faster than the world’s quickest computers (well, maybe not for long, the way things are going). Electrical currents are the vehicles that shoot in every direction, making us react, act, think, ponder, and emote.
From a very young age, we are taught which of the paths inside our minds we are to use, and which we are not to. Inside of us are all the possibilities in the world, remember. It’s just that our education has pointed us away from certain possibilities. We learned to sit on a toilet to pee. We learned to eat with a fork and knife. Almost everything we do in society is conditioned by the education we received, either through parents, peers, or the unsupervised wildness of nature itself (think of someone who is afraid of dogs because they were bitten as a child. That is also a lesson.)
We are action and reaction, and much of that comes from our educations. Much of the strife that exists in the world is caused by our education as well. Parents teaching their kids not to like others of a different skin tone or sexuality cause strife. Governments who teach their citizens that it is okay to kill, cause strife. Religions that tell their adherents that marginalizing certain people or harming them is okay causes strife. The thing is, every individual and every group has the possibility of causing harm. It is not because someone is Atheist, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Gay or Straight, as well as any of the myriad other groups that they are more prone to harm than others. It is their thought process.
It is their education.
The basis of any group, large or small, is a system. A thought system. It is our thought systems which cause us to take action, or not. More basic than that, though, is a simple fact. At the core of our being, we are emotion, and then we are thought.
What do I mean by this?
I love my wife. I want to show her my love. So I buy her flowers. My thought process is that, if I love her, she will enjoy the flowers I get her. This is an example of love as a driving emotion. I put my love in the driver’s seat, and my thought process brought me to the action of showing affection by buying my wife a gift. How sweet.
But it works in all the possible ways you can imagine your emotions working. We are, sadly, not only made of love. We are made of all the other positive as well as negative emotions that an animal can have. Hate, anger, jealousy, greed, envy, and a whole lot more, as well as their positive counterparts, love, peace, satisfaction, giving, patience, forgiveness, and all the rest. They work either for us, or against us. They all have their place in our mental ecosystem, but many talk out of turn, and make for dangerous societies, when too much of one negative trait takes up all the space.
Because that’s the point of this entire exercise: the desire to live in a better society. Before you step back, telling yourself: “Well, I’ve heard this proposition before, and it never ended well for a lot of people,” ask yourself, do you feel safe in your community? Your country? Your entire planet? If you do, you are one of the lucky few. You know that there are reasons why your society gets along without going at each other’s throat. If you don’t, you may want to ask yourself: why?
Why is it that my society is so dangerous, or that I am marginalized, or beaten for who I am? Is it racism, sexism, homophobia? Is it because I belong to a different class, or tribe? It is all of those reasons, but the true basis for all this discrimination is education. Educate people to accept others for who they are and they will. Educate the elite to stop oppressing and start working for better societies as a whole, and they will stop fearing those they consider below them and work with them. Educate the authorities to stop usurping their power and they will. They key is education, and the education must come from somewhere.
It is all well and good to have a great Constitution which grants people equal rights and freedoms, but Constitutions are pieces of paper. Humans are humans and live by their own rules. Those rules are generally those of their families and communities. We all want to fit in, of course. So if the rules are unjust to some people, it becomes very difficult to want to change anything because no one wants to rock the boat. But rock the boat we must if we want to achieve equality for everyone in the community.
Here’s the problem as I see it, though: the hard part is changing the mind of the oppressor. If a person is in a position of perceived power, they might very well fight change. What needs to be done is to show people that it is in fact to their advantage to want change, that there is no loss, but only gain. More safety, more opportunity, more advantages for all.
So, there have been many attempts to create “better” societies, but those attempts have been based on the wrong notion of one type of person being better than another. This is a fallacy. There is only humanity, and the imaginary divisions we create. There is only the mind, inhabiting a body, trying to cope with a family, inside a community, inside a nation, on a planet.
We’ve created organization throughout history to try to make better, more peaceful societies. That’s the basis of religious thought. It wasn’t so much the adulation of a creator that was important, but the regulation of our own actions within a community. Think of the Ten Commandments. If you take away the God aspect of them, you have the perfect recipe for getting along with your neighbors. The same goes for Jesus’ golden rule. As a matter of fact, that is the common point of all religious thought: getting along with people so that you could live a more or less peaceful life.
Because if you think about it, there are only two way of policing a society: actual police, because everybody is out there looking for number one, or self-policing, which makes sure that everybody acts in accordance to their own regulations so that we don’t abuse each other. It’s that simple.
Of course we want to have freedom. Of course we want to abuse each other and ourselves, but it makes for piss-poor societies, and they decline and fall. It’s only when we start putting the accent on those positive driving emotions that we have societies that drive in the same direction.
What am I possibly talking about now, you may wonder? Well, think of it this way: let’s imagine that you are driving, and that your passenger all of a sudden wants to grab the wheel and do it his way. What happens? You’ll crash. What if you have a nation where sixteen dozen groups want to go their own way, with their own beliefs on how to get there, and all want to drive the car? You get pretty much the same result. If you give them all the same goal, though, and the tools to get there, it doesn’t matter who’s driving: they’ll get there, or at least strive to.
A new philosophy is not a new religion. We have enough of those. What we need to have is a new way of thinking about the human race, and implant it, no matter what. It is putting the Human Race above petty concerns and greed and jealousy and war, to have better people. Caring people. Loving people. Organizations and religious groups are umbrellas for the people under them. What we wish to achieve is making an umbrella for humans. One that puts the individual in the position to think independently and want to learn more. It is one that wishes the survival of the planet we live on, so that all who inhabit here may do so. It is also one that considers the expansion of the human race beyond our planet of origin as paramount to the survival of the planet and our species.
As we once considered our deities to come from some nebulous place beyond the stars, (without even batting an eye or thinking it remotely odd) we must consider the possibility that at some point in time there will no longer be the resources on our planet to sustain ourselves at our present rate of consumption. This isn’t some weird science fiction dream. This is a reality, and like climate change and the destruction of our only home planet, must be addressed.
All these things I spoke of are true. If you can think of a new way of doing things, it can become the new reality. People might look at you and think: you’re crazy for trying! But honestly, the price for not trying to put this world right is too much to bear. I want my kids and grandkids and all my descendants, and yours as well to have the things they need to not only survive, but to live a good life. And for that to happen, it has to start somewhere, and it has to start with someone who believes in hope for a better life, and not only hopes it, but makes it happen as well. Because that’s the power of education, and community, and love.
As I said, this the introduction. If you’re intrigued, I recommend you keep reading. I understand what I’m saying isn’t for everyone. I’m not here to force anyone into anything. Just to interest those who want to make a difference to have the tools to do so. I wrote this as a letter to my son, but really, it’s for everyone. Enjoy.