|Toxic Drums • Home • Book Reviews • Site Navigation • Contact • Blog|
|See also: • Good & Evil • Cascading Oppression • List of Charities • Death Toll Counter • Cheer me up • Quotes|
There is a lot of unhappiness in the world today. Where has it all come from?
Obviously there are many theories in the world about unhappiness. There are theological ideas about it and there are many philosophical ideas. There are medical and psychological ideas too. Whatever happened to Occam's Razor?
There are ways of looking at a subject of unhappiness and one is to ask the question "Where else in nature can unhappiness be found?" Well it doesn't seem to be found in plants, fish, ants, or rocks. It can sometimes be found in higher animals like polar bears, elephants and humans.
Unhappiness can be split into two main categories. There is the unhappiness associated with an injury of some kind and there is the far more complex unhappiness which can be found in so many humans particularly those living in "civilisations". The point is that there is unhappiness in the form of bereavement or hunger and unhappiness associated with injury like a splinter or a broken leg and then there is the unhappiness which so many humans experience and is an apparent mystery. It is sometimes called depression or anxiety. It is called post traumatic stress syndrome or bipolar disorder. It is called guilt or neurosis or angst. But what is this epidemic of "pain" that humans are suffering? When a human is injured they go through a response process which often includes crying. Why?
There lies the starting point for understanding the current plethora of unhappiness in people today.
What is it that crying is all about? It is seen as something people do. Like when water is tipped out of a bucket it falls down. Why?
The "why" question is infused with difficulty too. But it is still worth pursuing. One could answer "Because it hurts." And the why question pops up again. It hurts because there is a nervous system and signals are sent to the brain and the experience is what we call pain which hurts. What is that all about? Things simply are as they are and in that respect they make sense. The idea of scientific research and "knowledge" is to understand the world as it is. If we don't think water should fall down when we pour it out of a bucket there is no sense in continuing to try to pour it up just because we want it that way. We don't like pain but that is no reason to pretend it isn't real or to act as if it has no significance. People all too often try to sidestep pain and it's consequences. "Get real." "Forget about it." "Move on with your life." "Stop being a wimp." and one of the worst "Grow up."
But our experience of pain fits into the greater scheme of things. It really does. But how can we make sense of it. Well making sense of it is exactly what we have to do. We have to experience it and let it take it's natural course. There is a process called capillary action which is where water in a thin tube rises upwards. Now we had considered earlier that water always falls down so what is going on here? Well there are other factors and one of them is the attraction between the molecules of the water and the molecules of the containing tube. When the tube is thin enough the effect of the attraction between molecules is enough to overcome the effect of gravity. Interestingly humans have capillary tubes called lacrymal ducts which drain tears away from the eye.
So how did I get from unhappiness to capillary action? The point is that whether we understand it or not things are the way they are and we are interested in understanding things a bit more accurately than we do at the moment. This is always the case. Humans learn. How they learn is by having experiences of the world they are in. They react to the sensory input they get. How "understanding" comes from that is like trying to explain how a computer stores and retrieves files on a disk. You can explain it at a simple level by saying it keeps a record of where it puts everything and uses electricity to change the magnetic polarity of points on a disk. But it really doesn't explain it well enough. It depends on what you want the explanation for. If you want to know "how" to save a document someone can tell you which buttons to press. That is how we "share" information and understanding. The person who helps you at this level has been helped by someone else and the story goes all the way back through thousands and maybe millions of people all the way from the likes of Charles Babbage and John von Neumann (both worth finding out about) to various un-named mechanical and software engineers.
The relevance to unhappiness is this: When we experience it we can try to explain it as much as we like but at every stage we will find out a little more about the synaptic gaps in the neurological system and the lacrymal ducts in the eyes. We will discover all about hormone secretion and white blood cell production. We will discover lots about energy and matter and the fact that matter is a form of energy famously demonstrated by Einstein's E=mc2. And it all tells us more about how the world "does" work but not the "why".
But we discover that it "does" work. So back to the question of unhappiness. One mistake that humans make about unhappiness is to imagine that it is so undesirable that we should get rid of it wherever possible and if we can't get rid of it we should pretend it isn't there.
BUT IT IS!
And the plethora of unhappiness being experienced by humans at the moment is largely due to the deliberate avoidance of the experience of unhappiness when it was correctly due in it's right place and time.
Unhappiness is the experience of the natural response that the complex biological blob called a human has to certain external influences. The "effect" travels along nerves which change the biology in complicated ways (see The Biology of Love) and if the system is allowed to function naturally the consequence is that the blob has learnt something useful about the world out there.
When you hurt yourself and you stop and you feel the pain and you cry and then you get on you are more careful about not doing the same thing again. When you hurt yourself and you ignore the pain and get on, you continue to run into the same problem over and over again becoming less and less sensitive to the real world and blundering along in a rather ineffective way.
In a primitive sort of way the balance of getting on and ignoring pain and stopping and paying attention to it has got us this far in evolutionary terms. But we have a changing environment and we are immersed in a far denser cloud of other humans than we were. What is happening is that humans are continuing to blunder on and passing the "lessons" of blundering on to their offspring. (see Cascading Oppression) The burden of un-processed pain is becoming unbearable and WILL result in the complete collapse of this biological miracle called humanity unless they slow down and start to be responsible about the pain.
FEEL THE PAIN
Let the process do what it is meant to do.
It is not difficult for humans to feel the pain and to "suffer". Babies (the young natural relatively unaffected humans) do it extremely well. But here lies the problem. The blobby adults who have learnt to avoid pain at any cost try to stop the baby expressing their pain. It is sometimes done with the best intentions and it is sometimes done with a simple slap. But it is done over and over again until the infant learns that it must stifle it's expression of pain and before long it is unaware of the pain. Now the new adult behaves like the old one's and passes on the incorrectly "learnt" lessons.
Humanity has a challenge here. The challenge is to welcome all people's expression of their experience whether it is happiness, exhilaration, sorrow, pain or fear. Humans, many of them, understand when a child falls over that to cuddle them whilst they cry is the best therapy available. If we don't do more of this then the final battle between good and evil predicted and feared in the stories of Armageddon will inevitably come about.
GOOD is acknowledging reality and embracing it.
EVIL is denying reality and opposing it.
IT REALLY IS THAT SIMPLE.