The Most Profound Truth Resides Within Us, Not in Anyone’s Words
Thanks for looking at my document and for your well-considered notes on it. Readers can feel more confidence in new ideas, when writers supply references to support their opinions, so I wish I could include them, as you suggest. But I am talking about a paradigm shift in human thought, a different perspective on the nature of our purpose here, a purpose for which there are no references of which I am aware. In my thinking, I have gone back to that most elemental question about the purpose of human existence, and sought to explain how humanity arrived at the particular package of understandings that define the nature and quality of life for every human being on earth.
Einstein lamented the fact that we were put here, but weren’t told our purpose for being here. When you think about it, life serves no purpose. Like the animals, we are born. We live. We propagate. And we die. With perpetuity, the cycle unfolds—before us, after us, and in places known and unknown. Yet, unlike the animals, modern human beings live in a civilized world of our own making. We live largely apart from Nature. Was this a conscious choice? Or did it happen by default, back in more primitive times, as human minds began to assert their own finite judgment over Nature’s?
Yes, there are many documents that question the viability of civilization, itself, noting the historical fact that all civilizations eventually fall. But I’ve never found one that explains what caused civilization, in the first place!
As far as I know, few would disagree with Thoreau’s famous quote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.” But no one has ever suggested that Thoreau was speaking of a desperation that is entirely unnecessary. It seems to have occurred to no one that the emotional pain Thoreau describes is caused by the very institutions through which civilization orders, and attempts to protect, our lives. I know of no one who has attempted to describe in further detail the nature of the emotional pain to which Thoreau called our attention. To my knowledge, no one has yet connected that emotional pain with the pervasiveness of the heavy institutional hand that civilization places on each human spirit.
I believe I am virtually alone in recognizing how serious is the question of whether civilization, itself, is the cause of human unhappiness—individually, and also collectively, in the form of humanity’s worst problems. I am fairly certain that I am alone in recognizing what initially caused civilization, which is men granting one another the right to own things. So, I am not surprised when people are frustrated by the dearth of references to support my views. I am fully aware of the natural human bias against questioning the civilization into which we were born, and naturally take as a given. I see clearly how the fruits of our modern technological prowess make it seem obvious that we are going in the right direction, notwithstanding the omnipresence and intractability of the kinds of problems civilized people and their societies uniquely face—lack of intimacy, unhappiness, loneliness, anxiety, greed, addictions, disaffected family relationships, spousal abuse, class consciousness, religious and ideological factionalism, violent and nonviolent crime, terrorism, insurrection, international conflicts, habitat destruction, and the eventual cataclysmic failure of every civilization’s institutional structure.
We are taught that all of these are failings of human nature. But are they? In essence, I am proposing a reasoned explanation for the multiplicity of predicaments to which every civilization has historically been subject. I believe it is important to question the wisdom of laying blame on the very spirits that animate us for the miseries and sufferings that have plagued all human civilizations. Are we so unlike the animals that our spirits are somehow flawed, while theirs are not? Or have we so completely subjected ourselves to the rules and dictates intrinsic to institutions that our habit of acquiescence has gradually turned us against our own souls?
If this is true, as I believe it is, it is urgent that we question whether the development of human civilization has helped, or gravely harmed, humanity. I have reason to believe incalculable harm has been, and is being, done, not only to every living soul, but to the human species, itself. If I am right, the stakes couldn’t be higher. They warrant the bluntest kind of sincerity, in addressing the negative consequences that civilization may well have caused us to visit upon ourselves.
That is why I ask the reader to entertain this reasoned explanation—strange and unfamiliar as it may seem—and to consider how it resonates, in the light of his or her own life experiences. I ask that because I believe the most profound truth resides, not in anyone’s words, but in each one of us. When it resonates, we know it, without being told.
Excerpt from: Take Us Home, Girls!
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