State Of Humanity

A companion piece and soundtrack to State Of The Climate…

The best way to to change the cultural is through changing the personal. In this sense Gandhi’s old adage about “be the change” applies.

I keep going back to something Alan Watts wrote in the sixties… that I quoted in my first essay here at DD back in October 2007: The End Of The Beginning?

It is said that humanity has evolved one-sidedly, growing in technical power without any comparable growth in moral integrity, or, as some would prefer to say, without comparable progress in education and rational thinking. Yet the problem is more basic. The root of the matter is the way in which we feel and conceive ourselves as human beings, our sensation of being alive, of individual existence and identity. We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms- Most of us have the sensation that “I myself” is a separate center of feeling and action, living inside and bounded by the physical body–a center which “confronts an “external” world of people and things, making contact through the senses with a universe both alien and strange. Everyday figures of speech reflect this illusion. “I came into this world.” “You must face reality.” “The conquest of nature.”

This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything known about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences. We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated “egos” inside bags of skin.

The first result of this illusion is that our attitude to the world “outside” us is largely hostile. We are forever “conquering” nature, space, mountains, deserts, bacteria, and insects instead of learning to cooperate with them in a harmonious order. In America the great symbols of this conquest are the bulldozer and the rocket–the instrument that batters the hills into flat tracts for little boxes made of ticky-tacky and the great phallic projectile that blasts the sky. (Nonetheless, we have fine architects who know how to fit houses into hills without ruining the landscape, and astronomers who know that the earth is already way out in space, and that our first need for exploring other worlds is sensitive electronic instruments which, like our eyes, will bring the most distant objects into our own brains.)

The hostile attitude of conquering nature ignores the basic interdependence of all things and events–that the world beyond the skin is actually an extension of our own bodies–and will end in destroying the very environment from which we emerge and upon which our whole life depends.

We need, each of us individually, to stop hallucinating before we can deal with reality collectively. Because either way we personally and collectively create the reality we live and die in.

“The obscure we see eventually.”

“The completely obvious, it seems, takes longer.”

Edward R. Murrow

April 25, 1908 – April 27, 1965

23 comments

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    • Edger on April 25, 2010 at 4:42 pm
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    dying of suicide is to not do it.

  1. and … this one is pretty funny….. here.

  2. I happen to think it’s both utopian, and not unlikely totalitarian, to require people to change what they are, how they are.  It seems much more useful, and a tall enough order in itself, to try to get people to at least think about what they do, how good for themselves and those they care about, and those like themselves, what they do is, and whether they may want to change that.  To condition social change on people rethinking their entire being is to guaranty no social change, ever.

  3. probes to other planets.  Someone said something one time that struck me.

    It is not us, but the Earth that has sent part of itself to the moon, and the Earth has sent parts of itself to other planets.  And it has done this before, with or without humanity being the expressive factor — and will do it again when we are gone.

  4. “I see through my eyes, not with them.”

    I love this quote, because the subject I almost seems to vanish as the physical eyes transform into windows of the soul serving a more spiritual need than an organic one.

    The ego is sort of set free, as the first person singular becomes more of a universal observer than a Cartesian deduction.  

  5. http://www.cuttingthroughthema

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