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Monday, November 11, 2019

Course correction for the Future

Human mind is an amazing creation of nature. It demands an answer for the mystery of its own existence and even attempts to answer. Thanks to my medical profession and my own interest in diagnostic challenges, I have been thinking about the mind and its mechanisms for most of my adult life. In addition, immersion in meditation extended the realm of my thinking to another dimension. More recently my life in a senior home has given me yet another perspective, because of contact with residents with different levels of dementia.  Finally, information technology and its influence on our thinking at every level have given me an urgency to share the following thoughts. You are most welcome to offer corrections and other suggestions. 

Humanity has come a long way and thanks to the advances in science and technology in the past 100 to 150 years, so many lives have been enriched. So much more is possible, if only we can reflect every day and use the gift of our awareness and thinking to direct our lives and set a model for the future generations. We need to take stock of where we came from and where we are now. We should look at what we gained and what we lost in the process. A course-correction is in order right now in this era of information overload and "Information Disorder".

Let us look at the Then and Now.

Then, early humans probably lived as small tribes, very much like the few hunter-gatherers, who still live in the Andaman Islands and remote regions of the Amazon river basin. Survival of the individual required being part of groups, small clans. They gave up (Individuals had to give up) some personal choices and freedom for the safety and survival of the group, which in turn protected the individual.  

They lived in harmony with nature and respected it for what it gave. They led a more collaborative life. They were better connected with others and with nature and were aware of those connections, intuitively. They expressed them in group ceremonies, festivals, arts and poetry. Tight community bonds kept them loyal to their group and kept them accountable for their moral and ethical conduct. Of course, all the love and kindness to fellow human beings were let go when other clans encroached on their territory and their properties.

Later, with the release from the demands for obedience from the religious institutions and monarchs, individuals learnt to think for themselves. Authorities were challenged. Individuality started flourishing. Individual curiosity and creativity started innovations. Science flourished and led to a more reliable understanding of the universe. Technology made it possible for more people to exit poverty and lead a safer life. But technology came with its own set of problems.

Now, with the focus on the individual, individual success and happiness have become the focus of our lives. Individual is trying more and more to be the center of the cosmos and of attention. Therefore competition has become part of our lives. When we compete, someone succeeds, and someone loses. Empathy,  humility and compassion take a back seat. Individuals feel as if they are on their own in this competitive world. They forget that it is their own making. They lose their connection with others, even with one’s own kith and kin, and with the cosmos.

We live inside concrete and glass and not amidst nature.
We live in a world of noise-pollution. It is very difficult to find a quiet place in any city. It is difficult to listen to oneself in the middle of all this noise and the constant interruptions.
We live in a world of light pollution. We are living in light all through day and night. It is difficult to see the milky way from most cities.
To use the words of T.S Eliot, we live in  the “wasteland” of others’ lives.
We have only sites for amusements. We do not have a sacred place to retreat to. Joseph Campbell asks: “Where is your bliss station?” 
We have shopping malls and entertainment complexes. Where is a quiet place to retreat to and experience what we are and imagine what we want to be?
Nothing seems to be sacred. We do not have any shared sacred symbol to relate to. We do not have any sacred relationships – not even marriage.
Marriage has become a contract and not a covenant. The ritual is there in excess and with added layers of show and pomp. The substance is gone.
Even the places of worship are not safe any more. We have to go through security points to enter major shrines of the world. 
We have national heroes and national loyalties. But no universal heroes or Peace Warriors.
Instead of taking part in the journey of life, we have become “consumers” and passive spectators.
The old myths made for old times have lost their relevance. We are still clinging to them and trying to merge science and myth.
What can we do to face the future and help the future generations? 

I am an optimist and care about the future generations. Here are a few ideas for The Future……… (in the next blog)  

1 comment:

Lilly said...

Thought provoking and timely article. Eagerly waiting for The Future..