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The Problems Of Humanity

November 25, 2009

Over the past few months I’ve been reading a lot of history.  Also, over the past few years I’ve studied a lot of psychology, philosophy, biology, sociology, anthropology, and more.  After reading all this material, I decided it’d be good to sit down and just write all the problems I see plaguing mankind.  By problem, I don’t always mean a bad thing that troubles us.  I simply mean something that dominates the mind of man.  Many of these problems are the same issues we’ve been dealing with since the first civilizations and recorded history.  The intention of this post is to list the core problems humanity faces, and their root causes.

Now this list was created off the top of my head while laying in bed this morning.  I don’t intend for it to be comprehensive.  But I hope it’s a decent starting point, and for whoever on the internet finds this post, if you have anything to add to help me build a better list, please feel free to comment below.

Violence

One of the most sad things about this world we all live in is our own origins.  When you turn on the discovery channel, or animal planet, and watch animals struggle to survive in the wild, fighting, killing, and eating one another, you really see the Darwinian struggle staring you right in the face.   Everywhere I look is violence – both in the animal world, and in mankind.

We’ve evolved from those lower creatures, and outside of of some oxytocin flowing through our brains, and a slightly more developed brain, we share those same instincts.  All those violent instincts you see in the animal kingdom are buried deep within mankind.  In civilized society these instincts are repressed, but you can see the violent instincts manifest and given outlet all over the place.

Just turn on your television, or watch a movie.  Everything is sex and violence.  Gunslingers, bank robberies, gun fights, stabbings, murders, blood, gore, and everything else.  Horror movies.  Action movies.  Thrillers.  All fear and violence.  Video games are mostly violence.  First person shooters.  Role playing games are all about hunting and killing monsters, with a storyline along the side.  RPG players load up the game and kill monsters for hours and hours, using every sort of weapon imaginable, killing every sort of monster — all for the fun of it.  Outdoorsmen hunt and fish.  I remember going fishing with my grandpa years back, and after catching a trout he put it on the stringer.  He ran it straight through the fish’s eyes.  One eyeball was left hanging out, and the fish writhed around in pain.  Even then I sat down wondering, “Why is the world like this?”

It’s nice that these instincts are given outlet in fictional worlds, instead of in the real world. I’m guilty of playing violent video games all the time.  Just the other day I was playing Doom 3.  The year is 2145, and you’re a space marine stationed on Mars.  A scientist there is doing some crazy research and somehow unlocks the doorway to the demonic spirit world.  Demons possess everyone around, and you’re one of the few left.  You make your way through dimly lit Martian space bases, with demons and zombies chasing after you.  Half the time you’re clicking down on the mouse button, killing and blasting things to a bloody pulp.  It’s pretty bad.  But I admit, it’s pretty fun.

Then there’s wars.  In the early days wars were fought mainly as a labor saving device.  A tribe would be migrating around, come across another tribe, then they’d simply attack and steal the other tribe’s stuff.  Later, as mankind settled down into set areas, our reptile instincts made us territorial.  (We evolved from reptiles, you know.)  Just like dogs, and other animals, we defended our territories from invaders, and were violent to anyone outside our tribe.  Even today, we have nation states, and patriotism, which is just a slightly more complicated version of the same thing.  Other wars have been fought over religion, and various deities.  It’s my opinion that the religions of the past were simply excuses to invade and kill other tribes.  Jesus taught pacifism, yet the Catholic church held countless crusades, and witch hunts.  Mankind is prone to that sort of behavior because we have violent instincts.  “God told me to do it.”  “God wills it.”  Rids them of their conscience, which as psychoanalysts point out, is simply a complicated super-ego dynamic.  They fracture their own conscious mind into two separate “minds” so to speak, and then have an avenue to relegate responsibility.

There’s so much violence in the world because men enjoy violence.  It’s in their nature.  They like the fight, but don’t like the consequences.

Sex

Outside violence, the second most prevalent thing I see is sex.  Women want to be beautiful, to attract a man.  And even if they’re married, they still want to look beautiful, for all sorts of reasons.  When you go to the bookstore, most of the books are about relationships.  Look on youtube’s front page, and it’s all makeup videos.  Men seem to put a lot less into it, though they certainly care about it a great deal as well.

I remember watching a film about birds on some island.  They had no predators there, and the biologist was talking about how they created elaborate mating rituals.  The male birds would fly toward the females, dance around them, and chase them all over the place.  It was very elaborate.

Mankind is no different.  Our mating rituals are super complicated.  This is all so widespread because, like violent genetic instincts, we’re also born with sexual drives.  If you study Freud, you’ll see that 3/4 of what goes on in our heads is driven by sex.  Once kids hit a certain age the guys and girls start gravitating toward one another.  Natural genetic process.

I think sexual instincts can be both beautiful, and disgusting.  Sometimes they seem to bond couples together and eventually it grows to form a deeper bond of true love.  Other times sexual drive is sublimated into artistic work, and creates very beautiful work.

But at the same time I don’t want to belittle family, or marriage.  In the past, I viewed things from give and take, and other stupid ways of thinking, and never even realized the value in family, marriage, or love.   My personal philosophy never even spoke of it.  But love within the family is the most beautiful thing there is.  The same is true of friends.  Whatever may have drawn you together, those bonds we share when we truly grow to love one another is more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen.

Mental Weakness and Survival Instincts

Many psychoanalysts say that birth in itself is a trauma.  It seems from the day we’re born we open our eyes to perils and trials of every sort.  It’s really something else.   I don’t know how many times I’ve opened my eyes in the morning, only to think, “So I woke up here today.  This world.  It wasn’t a nightmare.  I really do live in this hell hole.”

When I read history, I see this world beating the hell out of the human race, and people are simply doing all the can just to make it through the day.  Can you imagine waking up in the late middle ages with the Black Death ravaging the world around you.  You have no idea what even causes it.  People waking up with huge boils under their armpits, wheezing and dying a few days later with no real medical care even available.  You watch the men in your town pile up dead bodies.

Or how about the Nazi death camps?  Can you imagine what the soldiers, and the prisoners endured?  Throwing piles of dead bodies into giant ditches and holes?  Or how about the veterans of World War II, watching their buddies mowed down as they invade Normandy on D-Day.  Watch your best friend blown to bits by a grenade.

Whether it be watching loved ones die of cancer, religious nutbags and their holy wars, politicians and their lies, infidelity in relationships, and everything else, the mind seems to break down.  Psychologically it can only take so much before it wants to escape.  And throughout history, religions have been a sort of balm to comfort the weak, the oppressed, and those with a bad lot in life.

If you can’t find love in this world, Jesus is up above ready to welcome you into his arms.  If you can’t find a way to earn money, don’t worry, blessed are the poor, and the meek, and if you’re faithful you’ll one day inherit the Earth.  Just endure your lot and bide your time, God will reward you for your service to his work soon enough.

We all want to survive and live in a better world, and when we lose our faith of that ever happening here, we look for that comfort someplace else.  Unfortunately all forms of escapism are unhealthy.

Once man submits himself to the invisible deities, and lives for alternate worlds in the heavens, getting them to come back to this world is a real trial.  Also, these religious beliefs tend to cause all sorts of problems.

Just picking up a newspaper I begin to read about hate crimes.  Gays have it bad.  Religious people just don’t like gays, and even feel they’re doing the work of God when they give them a hard time.

Or read about the Middle East and the wars.  They’re all religious.

President Bush felt he was doing the work of the Lord during his presidency.  He told us he prayed every night.  He lived by faith and his convictions.  You can see where that led us.  And don’t forget about the Dark Ages.  You know, a lot of the worst times in our history have been when the Catholic church was in control of the world.  All scientific thought was stifled, and for almost 1500 years barely anything progressed.  Sure we built some windmills, learned some farming techniques, established the first schools and universities, and even worked out representative government from feudalism, but still, relatively speaking, mankind progressed at a crawl and could’ve done a LOT more.

The Egyptians, Greeks, and even Romans did all kinds of stuff.  Then progress just went down the toilet.  The Greeks used to work out geometry, law, philosophy, physics, and more.  They studied the stars, thought about the origins of the universe, and worked out their theories in vigorous debates.

But religion stopped the debates.  Faith was the new law, and not empirical truth.  Men already knew everything there was to know, and it was in their holy books.  Outside of revelation from God, there was nothing worthwhile to know.  They stopped questioning, and the world stopped accordingly.

Once Rome fell due to corruption, graft, over-consumption, insufficient slaves to exploit, and so on, the world got real bad.  Economic systems failed.  The money became worthless.  Invaders started to plunder them from every angle.  That’s when the world turned to Jesus, and we went into the Dark Ages, and it took forever to get out.  Recovery would’ve been a lot faster, but people turned to relief in the imaginary world, instead of this world.

Mental weakness causes so many problems for mankind.  That neurotic, psychological breakdown when we just can’t take it anymore.  When we begin to turn to all sorts of irrational beliefs just to comfort us.

Anna Freud, the daughter of the famous Sigmund Freud, outlined all the different ways we run from this world.  I’m more guilty of psychological abberations, and running away, than anyone else.  Wanting to understand myself was why I read every book of Freud’s, and many other psychoanalyst’s works as well.

Now that I’ve had a lot of free time, I’ve went back to studying some psychoanalysis.  I went to examine myself some more, and questioned my own beliefs.  I questioned my own views toward relationships with women, and I came to all sorts of insecurities.

I looked back over some things I wrote to a girl I like, back a year ago when I confessed my feelings.  So much of what was in there was fear driven.  I talked about how I’ve always wanted to construct a sort of “room” where I could reveal everything I was thinking to someone, and where I knew she would always accept me.  I stared at that, and though it sounds all beatific, and almost spiritual, it’s all rooted in fear of not being accepted for who I am.

So much philosophy, spirituality, mystics, new-age thinkers, and those sorts, they all seem so deep and profound.  Half the time however, what passes for spirituality is nothing but deeply concealed, and intricately interwoven fears.

In one of the letters I sent I talked about masks, and how I wondered what an identity even was.  But that too is partially rooted in fear of not being accepted, or good enough.  It’s a moot point if you’re comfortable with who you are.  Basically all I was saying, “I’m scared of choosing who I’ll be, but accept me.”  Loving one another unconditionally is beautiful, but fearing that someone may not love you will hurt you in the end, and drive you to do stupid things — like I did!  🙂

Once I realized that, I’ve changed a lot.  Or at least, I feel changes going on, for good or for bad.  The past months, not having the worry about earning money, and not being so stressed out, things have been changing for me.   Stress had a lot to do with my own philosophies.

I even analyzed why I’m often so, “I could really care less,” about so many things.  Why I felt so many things were petty, and not worth thinking about.  A lot of that was rooted in events that happened in high school.  I had a terrible event happen with a girl, and my life dreams were crushed, and I just walked away saying, “Whatever.  This crap isn’t worth dealing with.  I’m going to pursue something more rewarding.”  Way back then, I went into a sort of emergency survival mode based on the trauma and never really came out.

Repressed those desires and thoughts, and then slowly the life seemed to drain out of me.  And naturally, being the kind of person I became, it caused a chain reaction with everyone I was around.  And though I seemed so focused and determined, it was really all rooted in unconscious repressed issues.  Why try to have fun, when it’ll just turn out like last time.  Why try so hard, or put so much effort and hope into something when it turns out so awful.  It’s a refusal to try things that failed in the past.  Nothing had value because everything was a temporary place, and I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.

When you’re Rambo out on a mission to get in and get the hell out, you’re not going to enjoy life’s “petty things” at all.

Dreams are that way.  Sometimes dreams are truly our dreams.  Other times, they’re just us running.  It’s oftentimes so difficult to tell which dynamic is taking place.

I think we all hate that our minds are fragile, and how it’s so easy to deal with problems the wrong way.   I’m just saying we do it, and it hurts us all.

Your own fears, and things you won’t deal with end up causing everyone else problems as well.  Denial and running away.  Sad as it is, we don’t even know we’re running from anything half the time.  You have to know someone smart and skilled enough to identify it.  And half of us don’t want to hear it when we are confronted with it.  The reason we repressed the thoughts was because it was painful to think about to begin with.   It’s not very fun bringing it all up.

When you’re knowledgeable enough, you see that sort of thing all over.  Take Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life.”  Apparently President Obama thought highly of the book, and even took part in debates with Rick Warren during the campaign.  But that book is all fear.  Who defines your purpose?  If not you, then who?  It’s simply not choosing who you want to be in life, so you hope someone will make that decision for you.  It’s slavery masked as religion and spirituality.  Jesus teaches all things are possible to him who believes — that is, unless it’s against your “purpose”… In that case, you better not believe for certain things, because that’ll just get you in trouble.

I mentioned change earlier.  I think every change I’ve been noticing lately has to do with two concepts.  1) Love, and 2) Moderation.  Speaking of love, the thing I’ve been noticing is that showing a person love can bring them out of all kinds of problems.  A person dealing with all kinds of issues can overcome a whole lot of things just because they’re accepted and loved.

The power of love is something my personal philosophy has been lacking for too long.  It’s a powerful and deep force.  Being shown true love is 100 times more powerful than any disappointments you may have endured and can blast problems away.  Growing up in a loving family, I never noticed the power behind it.  But once I studied it more, and saw what had been going on, I realized a whole lot.  So many things become irrelevant when you’re placed in a loving environment.

Love can’t make you overcome your inner demons.  That’s your job.  It can fix a lot of things, however.  It also can make everything easier.

Maybe in this entry of “Problems of Humanity” I should talk about Lack of Love, but I honestly don’t understand love near enough.  My philosophy towards life has been incredibly shallow.  I may sound intelligent, but half the time I’m just an idiot.  Half the time in human affairs knowing the answer doesn’t even matter.  Not everything in this world is science, or cause and effect.  There’s things far more valuable to know.  Knowing someone’s there, and is with you.

I learned this simple lesson one time visiting a friend.  As we were talking, his father came in the room.  My friend’s mother called his father on the phone, and I was in the room overhearing the conversation.  They were going through a really rough situation, and I knew the context and what they were talking about, even though I couldn’t hear what she was saying to him.  After listening for a few moments, and hearing the mother sobbing on the other end, he said something to the effect of, “We’ll get through this.  This stuff happens.”

He said something much more loving.  I’m so pathetic, I can’t even remember.  I can’t even paraphrase him correctly, even though it’s so simple.  But I sat back amazed and I realized that I’m a complete idiot.

If I would’ve received that call, I would’ve been laying out strategies, and gone into all kinds of philosophy, and ways to deal with problems.  How we can’t let problems affect us, and to rise above every circumstance.  None of that even matters.   That’s logic, not love.   And you know what?  They got through the problem just fine, together, with such a simple mindset.

That sort of simple love, I’ll be there for you, don’t worry, is elegant and beautiful, like a law of physics.  It’s unmovable and simple to comprehend and express.  It adds a human dynamic to living that a computer like mindset, like my own, could never comprehend.  If you’re not affected by events, you’re not even alive.  Love, like a law of physics, is simple to state, but can be applied to practically anything, and moves things out of the way, like no other force I know.   Maybe to try to put love in as few words as possible:  You live together, die together, and do what you can whenever shit happens.  So simple.

I’d seen it my whole life in Dad.  That’s what Dad does with all of us.  When the car breaks down, what happens?  You call Dad.  How do you fix it, Dad?  And even if he doesn’t know, somehow it gets done.  Phone calls are made.  Money is pooled from some location.  Things just happen.

Drain clogs.  “Dad!!!  The drain’s clogged.”  Then he unplugged it.  Toilet plugged.  Same thing.  Water pump go out?  “Dad!!! Water’s not working.”

With me, I’d seen it, and just assumed it as a sort of unspoken principle.  Everyone in my family is that way.  I couldn’t understand anything different.

I remember in high school one day when my mom never showed up to pick me up from school.  I was like 15.  I don’t even remember why she was unable to make it.  I called up my grandpa, and he came.  He didn’t complain.  Never got mad at mom, or me.  It’s the mindset, “Something happened.  Somehow Jason’s stranded at school, and needs a ride.”  And here came grandpa to pick me up.

I remember getting in the car, and he was smiling.  He said, “Hey Jay man.”  Then when we finally got to my home, as I was getting out he said, “You ever need a ride again, you just give me a call.”

To me, getting stuck at school, then having to walk a huge distance home in the cold was unheard of.  There was a whole network of people who would take care of things like that, and I never had to worry.

Even though growing up I lived in this environment, later my mind came to dominate everything.  I became business, capitalist, Jason and lost my understanding of this.  I thought in debits and credits.  To owe and not to owe.  I give this, you give that.  That’s no way to live.  After all, the economics texts told me that those principles had built the most successful societies.  But what it didn’t say was, “Compared to what?”

But even being around it everyday, my whole life, I never saw it.  I stressed the details in how to accomplish various goals.  But details don’t always matter.  The most fundamental thing is, “We’ll take care of it.  Somehow.”  That’s love.

But I’ve been unable to feel, or express such simple feelings because of events that happened to me ages ago. It really is something else.

Logic tells you to keep getting better, and forces you to be perfect.  If you’re perfect, you’ll no longer have to worry about screwing up.  But life’s not that simple.  Becoming “perfect” is impossible and the mindset isn’t the least bit practical.

Why are you so stressed about becoming perfect, and the ultimate person?  It’s because somehow, if you’re not so perfect, and awesome, someone may not think much of you.  What a nasty, vicious cycle we put ourselves through as human beings.  And really, nobody expects perfection from any of us.  Most of us would be fine with decency and just a little respect.

Wow, that was quite a tangent.  Way off topic, but I’m not removing it.  This is a blog entry, and it doesn’t need to be perfect.

But to finish talking about running away, sometimes we move into denial, and just shut everything out.  I see that going on today everywhere I turn.  The government is getting more and more invasive, into every aspect of our lives.  They’re installing cameras on every corner of the street.  More and more police.  Our civil liberties have been eroding away.  But people deny it.  Anyone who acknowledges it is a “conspiracy nut.”  It’s simply denial.  You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see that every aspect of our lives can be pulled up by anybody with a computer.  We have no privacy whatsoever.  But, we deny it.  Doesn’t exist.

Sometimes we joke about it.  Make everything into a big joke, and don’t take anything seriously.

Sometimes we project our own issues onto others.  Like the preacher who rails on day after day about homosexuality, when he himself is having a gay relationship off camera.  Carl Jung said that the things which annoy us oftentimes say more about us than the thing in question.  When things deeply annoy you, it’s time to look inward and see what’s going on there.  Also, the things we preach with the most zeal tend to be rooted in our own insecurities and issues we’re dealing with.

Sometimes we rationalize things, downplaying the importance of what’s going on.

Another rampant psychological insecurity which plagues this world is fear of insignificance.  Alfred Adler talked about this.  He called it the inferiority complex.  Man’s struggle to be significant.

Everyone wants their name on a plaque.  Some building dedicated to them.  Awards.  Ceremonies.  It’s all people who are insecure about themselves.

How much misery do we all endure when tyrants try to take over the world, hoping to leave their names in the history books and leave a legacy?  When CEOs never get enough.  They may claim it’s all ambition, and they “think big”, but how much of it is really rooted in that?  What if nobody saw you, or cared.  Would you be doing the same thing if everyone on the Earth died, and you were left alone?  If not, then you’re doing the wrong thing.  It’s insecurity.  It’s not facing up to defining yourself, and instead you’re defining yourself through someone else’s eyes.  Hopefully if someone else will acknowledge you as worthwhile, you’ll have accomplished something in life.

As ironic as this sounds, I wish more CEOs would truly be selfish.  If so, I doubt they’d do half of what they do.  But they don’t live for themselves.  They live for glory, recognition, and prestige.  The money is never enough because glory doesn’t know any bounds.  Money isn’t acquired because they have any real use for it.  It’s simply used as a comparative point system, to compare how “valuable” they are.   By who’s standard, is the question.

We also tend to fear the unknown.  That’s the real origin of tradition.  We have a reptilian part in our brains which follows leaders blindly.  When we don’t know something we look to the strong man, and follow without question.  We hope if we imitate him, or find his favor, we too will come out on top.  Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.  We end up exploited.

When you walk into a cathedral somewhere, and see thousands of people taking place is weird rituals – ash pots, bells ringing, priests in robes, chanting Latin, drinking wine from a cup, taking part in prayer claiming that wine is the blood of God, and so on – it’s all fear of the unknown. At least, that’s why people continue to do it.  I think Joseph Campbell was right in his interpretations of these sorts of ceremonies being rooted in deep psychological principles, but I think that meaning is lost.  It seems to me to be just rote procedure followed out of fear, not out of amazement or love.

When you don’t understand what brings about prosperity, your natural inclination is to say, “Well, if we keep doing what we’re doing now, at least we can count on things staying the same.”  So out of fear of breaking the system, you keep doing what you’ve always done.   “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

That’s the power of tradition, and why people turn to old books.  It worked for grandma, and kept them alive.  Let’s do the same.

I’m exhausted, and have barely even touched on my list.  I have like 20 topics to write on, and didn’t even finish mental weakness and survival, which is just the third one.  I’ll have to deal with that next time.  I have to finish my Space and Geometry entries as well.  I’ll work on it.  Too busy reading though!  Hehe.  And goofing off.  I’m done for the night.  You guys take care!

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