Archive for December, 2010
Not completely, I bet!
We crave challenges.
We use conflict to help us grow, play, and learn.
We get up in the morning wondering “What can I accomplish today?”
So, what we need is to clarify the kind of conflict that we really want.
One way we might describe the sort of non-peace that we are most enthusiastic about is natural challenges where we have a reasonably comfortable fall back option.
In other words, we like challenges that originated from what we see as mostly random chance, or at least that we believe were not actively intended to be seriously bad. And we can feel positive about taking these natural challenges on when we are starting from a generally healthy position.
Another way to say it is that we like challenges that are on the more neutral middle of the scale of good-and-evil. We really don’t like it when we think real evil, totally beyond control, artificial, and unnatural, is involved. Stupid mistakes, and mild-mannered natural disasters, we can deal with, but the intentional and serious harm that we think of as “evil” is what we want to avoid.
This is why most average folks hate war, which is seen as evil incarnate, but love video and board games, which are seen as neutral fun. And it’s why people with extreme amounts of money and power (and who don’t have to actually get their hands dirty) do love war, and see it as neutral fun. It’s why people can enthusiastically go to school and work, if they know they will be ok even if they fail in their attempts. It’s why artists of all kinds try to turn their inner feelings into sensory experience for others, even though nothing can ever really capture what’s going on inside our hearts. And it’s why people who really love each other, and trust each other, can argue joyfully. :-)
We humans are born problem solvers and game players. And we always have to start working~playing from where we are right now. But we don’t like to feel forced to fight against the intentional cruelty that is evil. So the more we can help each other avoid truly dangerous challenges, and the more we can give everyone healthy fall back positions from which to start, the more we’ll all be able to be at peace with our conflict.
So maybe what we should wish in our cards, and in our minds, is something that clarifies what what sort of peace we want…
Try this one on for size this year:
I wish you all the resources you need to find peace and joy in all your challenges.
And, of course, just plain old love. :-)
Being able to think about life from different perspectives is what we do. And as our brain grows, we gain the ability to see more perspectives.
Starting at conception, our human brain is only aware of our body’s own internal state, and we’re just using the brain’s most primitive functioning areas.
Then at about nine months, we begin to gain the ability to be aware of another individual’s state, as it relates to our own state. At this point, someone else’s feelings and experiences can become connected to our own feelings, using the brain’s limbic system.
Then a few months before we’re four years old, we begin to gain the ability to be aware of a third person’s state, as it relates to a second person’s state, as it relates to our own state.
And by the time we reach age 35 or so, and we’ve spent decades thoroughly exploring a full range of third-person perspectives, we finally start being able to think about things in the three dimensions (three spacial dimensions, or two space and one time dimension), with what I like to call systems theory thinking. It looks to be in the prefrontal cortex, though I’m not totally sure just yet.
Of course, the kinds of things that 35 year old humans (and all other ages as well) think about are almost infinitely diverse, from rap music, to robots, to romance, to the Riemann Hypotheses. So evolution really does have pretty much everything covered, in all of space, as long as us old folks are around to pay attention to what all the people (of all species) of the world have to say.
And, obviously, I’m definitely looking forward to reaching the age of 216 years old, when we get to start thinking in four dimensions. That’s really gonna be cool!
Every possible combination of theories of life (genetic or memetic) has to be tried if we are to get to perfection. Thus, even if a set of genes or memes ends up being like the dinosaurs, and going extinct, testing out this particular set is still a valuable part of the process of making sure no stone is unturned in our search for the instructions for a better life.
Because life can’t be sure of what is best until it tries out everything, including the worst. Of course, the worst will never last long in this ultimate laboratory that is the universe, so we can be comforted that anything we encounter that is especially anti-life will be gone soon enough, as the process of evolution finishes testing it out and rejecting it as being a seriously failed theory. :-)
One theory of a better life that has been proven by the test of time, and memetic evolution, is that patience is a virtue!