Saturday, August 23, 2014

Polar Opposites

The natural world is devoid of opposites. There is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in nature. Opposites are constructions of human consciousness.

Conscious purpose is selective, and leads inevitably to decisions that do not take into account the totality of systems involved.  We want the best outcome for as little cost and effort as possible and things that hinder us are ‘bad’ and things that help are ‘good’.

Most conscious purpose is well-intended, for example, to cure disease. The use of antibiotics has benefited many people, but the systemic costs of not fully understanding the implications of the wide scale use of these drugs are only now beginning to be felt.

Even the conscious purposes of being ‘wealthy’ or ‘powerful’ are usually well intended, after all, who doesn't want security and comfort for themselves and their loved ones? But the wider consequences of this thinking are dangerous and have resulted in millennia of wars, environmental damage and inequality. Naturally, once someone has power and wealth, they need to protect these assets, and therefore more power and wealth is required and so on.

This polarisation of wealth and power has ultimately led to a small number of people with unimaginable wealth and power who profit from conflict, disease and the resources required for human life. Of course, their wealth and power insulates these well-intentioned (from their perspective) folk from much disease and conflict.

As with any conscious purpose, factors that hinder wealth or power are ‘bad’ and factors that help are ‘good’.  The next step is to polarise further; from ‘us’ to ‘them’, and ‘bad’ quickly becomes ‘evil’, ‘stupid’ or ‘sub-human’. Racial and religious differences become intensified, problems associated with poverty are blamed on the victims and critics are insulted or silenced.

I am increasingly despairing at the widespread hatred and suffering in the human world and the damage we are doing to the very environment we depend upon. This crisis isn't a matter of learning from the past, but of changing the way we think, but so much vested interest is in keeping this particular status quo, because it is profitable to those with wealth and power. This addiction threatens us all.

My solution is to keep trying to do good; to make little differences and simply hope that maybe they will add up and make a real difference. But it's an uphill struggle.