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Discourse on the Human Condition

  1. Jul 28, 2005 #1
    The past must never be forgiven, or forgotton. Years gone by are not simply a blurb in a text book but a living record that repeats again and again in the present among the swarming multitudes who all too easily ignore or forget the lessons of history, doomed to repeat them all over tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

    Does it not astonish you that since before there was a written history there were wars, vast armies that marched on one another in the name of God and virtue?

    Human society has made incredible leaps in recent years. The technological age has transformed life on earth so quickly that it has left no time for it to adapt, threatening to wipe out the very life by which it was given birth.

    Yet, over the millenia nothing at all has changed in regard to the essence of Man. The technological age has brought with it an aura of skepticism, true. All over the world in "enlightened" societies, the concepts of superstition and even religion are beginning to lose their hold.

    And yet, religious fanaticism is giving way to another age old trick, a secular devotion: Nationalism. All the pre-requisites for subservience are still present - virtue, devotion, love. Killing in the name of love for one's country.

    It seems devotion to a cause is at the very heart of Human essence. Something to live for. Something to kill for. Something, finally, to die for.

    The great question among thinkers of the new age must become one of transformation. How do we as a society transform that cause from war and betterment of the country, to the betterment of an entire species? To the betterment of sentience? How can we transgress the primitive emotions of hatred and love - so useful in the early years of mankind - to reach what we know now to be the pinnacle of the human condition: compassion. The conciousness of pain in another sentient being. The desire simply to help.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2005
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  3. Jul 28, 2005 #2

    Art

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    Yes and it is this philosophy which perpetuates the hatred that leads to wars.
    :rolleyes:
     
  4. Jul 28, 2005 #3
    I wasn't clear in what I meant when I said the past must not be forgiven.

    I meant only that it is foolish to be part of a system of beliefs which since the dawn of time has justified the slaughter of human beings. (I.E. organized religions, since being a part of that religion you forgive the countless wrongs it has commited:Catholicism and the spanish inquisition et al.) Obviously this isn't limited to religions, but basically certain systems of beliefs (nationalism, racism and on and on).

    I did not mean that revenge was justified although I realise now thats what it sounds like.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2005
  5. Jul 28, 2005 #4
    It may surprise you MaxS, but most wars were not about religion, racism, nationalism or anything like that. They were about King 1 wanting King 2's land and money.
     
  6. Jul 28, 2005 #5

    vanesch

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    Some time ago I saw a TV documentary (sorry, too long ago and no references) where the thesis was that most tribal wars in Africa before colonisation were about women :-)
     
  7. Jul 28, 2005 #6

    Art

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    I've seen many of those tribal wars over women taking place on a Friday and Saturday night at various nightclubs. :biggrin:
     
  8. Jul 28, 2005 #7

    Art

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    Ah, I took it as a call for revenge. Thanks for the clarification.
     
  9. Jul 28, 2005 #8
    Regarding the original post.

    You don't eliminate violence. Before we had a war to focus on, we focused on violence within our own borders. Gang violence, drugs, murder rates --- There is plenty of it. Violence is part of the human condition.

    We don't pay any attention to drugs or gangs anymore. Interesting. I guess because we have a war.

    But it was there, it *is* here, and here we are the democratic 'model' Bush wants to lead with because "terrorism can't survive a democracy." Bull****.

    So let's say his vision manifests, and the world becomes a big USA. ( :yuck: ) What is that? Mcdonalds and Starbucks everywhere and gang wars? And drugs? And Christian mega churches everywhere? Obesity epidemics and outrageous litigation? And still violence?


    Max, in my opinion there is no solution to the human societal condition. I'd love to be wrong on that. I think we each have a choice *individually* how to respond to it though. Consider the people in history, who really had integrity, wholeness, leadership; consider people who were shining examples of what humanity *can* be. They *never* tried to change society. I don't think you can. I think the only hope is to live as you believe best knowing that society has its own momentum, and will go its own way. I don't think society becomes enlightened the way you envision.

    Although, all that being said, it certainly seems that we are *losing* enlightenment lately ---- going back to the dark ages. So I readily acknowledge I could be worong on this.
     
  10. Jul 28, 2005 #9

    loseyourname

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    Where the heck are you living? The LAPD's number one concern remains drugs and gangs. They certainly aren't concerned with any overseas war.
     
  11. Jul 28, 2005 #10

    loseyourname

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    Heck, even chimanzees engage in behavior that could be called 'warlike' over control of land and resources - most importantly, reproductive access. I think it's safe to say that, though we've evolved far past them in many other respects, we're still chimpanzees in that one way. We'll band together along lines of allegiance and kill other bands to take what they have. Religion and nationalism are simply ways of garnering that allegiance. If we didn't have them, those who make war would find some other way to rally the troops.

    Heck, Max, it all started with families and tribes. If you're going to denounce religion, you may as well denounce families too, along with anything else that serves to gather men into groups with common interests.
     
  12. Jul 28, 2005 #11
    I'm north of LA, and I don't hear boo about gangs anymore.

    Probably because: I've never followed local news as much as national. It's possible the local news follows gang stories and drugs and so on - but whereas past administrations had a "war on drugs" and had programs to try to reduce violence in cities, I don't see any of that emphasis at the national level anymore.

    More specifically, I live in Ventura county. The biggest issue I see mentioned locally on a regular basis is illegal immigration (migrant workers etc) and guess what that gets tied into, in the news? Terrorist threats.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2005
  13. Jul 28, 2005 #12

    loseyourname

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    You're in the 626? Or up somewhere around Ventura or Lancaster?

    http://www.lapdonline.org/organization/oo/db/det_bureau_main.htm

    Check out the different divisions of the LAPD detectives bureau. The page for the narcotics division is five times the size of any division except commercial crimes, which is a division created several years back that combined two divisions into one.

    According to the Chief's statement on the front page, the number one goal of the LAPD right now is to reduce the threat of terrorism in the city. The Counterterrorism and Criminal Intelligence Bureau is composed mainly of the Major Crimes division, which includes all criminal conspiracies (this and commercial crime cover most gang activity).

    These are the two largest bureaus, so I'd deduce that the primary concerns of the force right now are terrorism, drugs, and gang activity. The war in Iraq doesn't seem to be mentioned anywhere on the site and I can only assume that they're not too concerned with fighting it, seeing as how there aren't any officers involved.

    Maybe the police forces aren't what you meant by the 'we' that aren't concerned with these things anymore, though. If so, who did you mean? The media? Legislators?

    Edit: Okay, never mind. You clarified in your own edit.
     
  14. Jul 29, 2005 #13
    I think that the biggest problem I see is the devisiveness itself. People target certain groups and in response these groups tighten up which in turn strengthens the devisiveness. Not that it isn't a natural and logical reaction but at some point we need to realize that we're perpetuating the problem. The responsability of those reacting is half of the responsability for the overall situation. I think the victims of these targetings often get too lost in being self righteous to realize this though.

    Oddly enough it's usually only through religion that most people seem to realize this.
     
  15. Jul 29, 2005 #14
    I disagree. Without knowing specifically to which people you refer, I would cite the "classical" examples of outstanding people. Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, Jesus (the man, not the god in the bible) - these people and others like them very much so tried to change society. They attempted to change the very fabric of human perception, to gain the attention of the entire world, and to change its perspective to one more closely idolising human rights. A more compassionate perspective.

    Of course I realize this. In my arguement I was not speaking of the motives of the ruling class however, but of the justifications for war which lead one human being to feel justified in killing another. These justifications in my opinion seem to center around religion, racism, and nationalism.
     
  16. Jul 29, 2005 #15
    Wars, hatred, history is mroe about desires, desires of a man, an entire population...A huge force driving history from side to side.Let's just forget the past and start thinking of a different world..
     
  17. Jul 29, 2005 #16
    Max, what an excellent topic for discussion, and how important at this particular point in time! I listen to a lot of radio presentations and recently was lucky enough to chance across the 2004 Massey Lecture. Perhaps you've heard of these lectures? In any case, here's some general information about them:
    The 2004 lectures were presented by Ronald Wright, historian, archaeologist and author of several books, and were entitled "A Short History of Progress". These lectures were packed with interesting historical and archaeological information and you may be interested in either getting hold of the book or the lectures on CD as they deal with some of the questions you raise. Here is some more information about them, as well as a link CBC's radio website, from which you can access Part 1 of the lectures online:
    Like you, Max, I am hopeful that we can indeed 'evolve' beyond our present 'barbaric state' (I put those last words in quotation marks because I am aware they're rather strong) - I mean, if we don't believe this and work towards it, then what's the point of carrying on at all?
     
  18. Jul 29, 2005 #17
    These are the same people I am talking about. However, I hear their message as more along the lines of how to conduct one's own life, not how to change your neighbor. Your perspective may be closer to the truth, but it isn't my perspective. Gandhi was a peaceful resistor for himself first, and for the inherent "truth" of being peaceful in resistance to wrong. Granted, he had an amazing effect.

    Buddhist monks have been peacefully resisting the occupation of Tibet for a very long time now. I am curious to see how this eventually resolves.

    I don't think you can (easily) change your neighbor, unless they are sufficiently self aware and want to change. I think in general, self awareness (and compassion) comes with age. And, since societies always have young people coming along and old people dying, any effort to "enlighten" society will always be work.

    In other words, I think there is some truth to the idea that selfishness and perhaps violence is wired into the species, biologically.

    I also think it is through cr*p that people learn to look for a different way to approach life. It is possible that the fruits of current world events will lead to considerably more people wishing to find a peaceful way - It is possible that violence and peace go in cycles because we seek peace as a result of violence.

    Which is a bit depressing.
     
  19. Jul 29, 2005 #18
    Ever considered "Standing on the shoulders of Giants" ?

    Progress is always compounded from the people that came before in History
     
  20. Jul 29, 2005 #19
    Hmmmm... Maybe.

    I think one shouldn't underestimate biological drive, in this topic. Most standing on the shoulders of giants occurs when adults build on the work that other adults did, before them.

    It is my understanding that many terrorists are not adults.
    It seems possible that *leaders* could learn from the past (although I've become cynical about a few) and enact policy towards a society that engenders less violence. However, it does not seem possible to me that any policy would eliminate basic human drives, including the ones helping to fuel current violence in the world.

    I think it's a complex issue. And in case it isn't clear, I'm all for an enlightened society.
     
  21. Jul 30, 2005 #20

    loseyourname

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    Eliminating violence is simple. All the women of the planet need to refuse to mate with any violent males. Violence will be all but gone from the species within a few generations.
     
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