SOME HUMAN INTANGIBLES DESCRIBED
By John B. Isom
We are made up of many tangible parts of a variety of shapes and sizes, such as the head, feet, hands, nose, and ears; heart, brain, guts and lungs; plus many others - billions too small to see with the naked eye. These are the tangible parts of what we are. They all have two things in common. Each has form, and each occupies space, however tiny.
The Concept of "MIND"
Our intangible parts have no form and occupy no space and cannot be identified by any of our sense organs. We cannot see, hear, smell taste or touch our intangible selves. Body and mind are the respective names by which we identify the tangible and intangible stuff of which we are made. What we call the human mind is not an organ of the body. The mind is as intangible as all its activities, but the mind and the body are interdependent for their existence - neither can exist without the other. The most meaningful way for me to comprehend the concept of "mind" is to think of it as all the intangible activities that go on in the brain, with the help of the nervous network in the body.
Thinking of all kinds, as I understand it, is the total business of what we call the mind. The mind, like a carpenter, needs something with which to work. Since the mind is in the business of building intangible (mental) images of edifices, its' lumber, nails, building blocks and tools must be made up of intangible resources. The mind gets such resources from the information the five sense organs of the body collect and sends to the brain, by way of a nervous network. Specialized cells in the brain separate such raw material for thinking according to its' nature. Other cells in the brain do the sawing, molding and finishing of the materials, for whatever use the thinking cells may find useful in building the mental edifices the mind is trying to erect at any given moment.
The brains' librarians catalogue all the mental images that are continually being made from the information collected by the sense organs. They store the mental images, under proper subjects, in the brain's great research library. It is in this library that the thinking apparatus of the mind researches the original resources needed for drawing mental blue prints of whatever intangible or tangible edifice a thinker may desire to build.
Stored in the memory library is also a lot of historical second-hand information, that the sense organs of past generations collected. They created mental edifices which they handed down to us as finished ideas, beliefs and attitudes; conceptions, perceptions and assumptions. The size of a person's historical memory library depends on how much hand-me-down information has been archived and stored by his brain cells. It is from those two sources, original resources and second-hand historical information, that we select the information that colors and influences our thinking.
What is thinking? Thinking is the activity performed by the thinking apparatus of all life forms that have a brain and nervous system - all of which we have given the name mind. So thinking is whatever the mind does. Thinking is mental activity rather than physical, however, we must keep in mind that neither activity is possible without the cooperation of the other. One is tangible. The other is an intangible activity of the same life.
Whatever the mind does may be identified as unconscious or conscious thinking. Unconscious thinking is of two kinds - instinctive and intuitive. Instinctive thinking is automatic, like the activity of the automatic nervous system that tells most of our body parts how, when, and in what direction to move, and at what speed. It does so without any conscious advice.
For Example: Instinctive thinking is not dependent of previous conscious thought. Vital organs, such as the heart and lungs, keep on pumping and breathing, be we asleep or awake, conscious or unconscious. Also, the muscles of our legs, arms, guts, eyes and kidneys are told what to do by an instinctive thinking process that can function without any advice from the conscious thinking process of our minds. However, as automatic as such physical actions are, they are controlled and directed by some part of our thinking apparatus. Instinctive thinking is not dependent of previous conscious thought.
Intuitive thinking is the other form of unconscious thought. In contrast to instinctive thinking, the food for intuitive thought depends on previous conscious thought. Can there be any intuitive thinking where there have been no resources provided by conscious thought? I can only ask.
Unconscious thinking is a mental activity that does what it does without knowing or being aware of its' actions. Conscious thinking is just the opposite. There is a large indefinable edge around what is called conscious, as well as what we call thinking. Both words identify realities too intangible to be described fully with tangible symbols. So we will proceed on the assumption that all can agree, conscious thinking is a deliberate or intentional mental act. Therefore, to think consciously, one must have some desired or necessary objective to be achieved requiring conscious mental action. The objective can be anything from learning how to tie one's shoes, to making a round trip to the moon, or figuring out how to get to heaven, or one of a billion other necessary or desired objectives.
The second thing one needs for conscious thinking is something with which to think. Already I have described two sources from which the mind gets its food for thought. One being the mental pictures the sense organs take of all they see, hear, smell, taste or touch. These mental images are sent through channels to sensitive brain cells, who pick out the pictures they judge best, and worth being archived in the memory library.
The other source needed for conscious thinking is the historical hand-me-downs collected from previous generations in the form of ideas, beliefs, attitudes and assumptions. For example: "Some animals are more equal than others" -George Orwell's Animal Farm) Some of them have been slightly modified in the passing from one generation to another. Others, especially those we still swear by, have been passed on to us, with no significant modification, from our oldest ancestors, for which we have recorded records of their ideas, beliefs, attitudes and assumptions.
There is a third important resource essential for conscious thought - the imagination - the creator of new insights and suggestions. The most unique characteristic of the imagination is that its movements are unhampered by time and space. It can make a round trip back in time when there was no world or universe, and wonder, as it gazes into the void. It can do so faster than you can say scat three times. Equally as fast, it can travel into the future to the end of time, return, and still have time to gaze into the void beyond and wonder. As the human imagination wonders, as it wanders to and fro in its' infinite universe, the mental images it creates will vary in kind and number, as there are humans involved. However, the imagination of an individual takes along assumptions, about this or that, which his mind has already accepted as true from his historical information and those verified by his mind with the information derived through his sense organs.
In the timeless and spaceless world, where past, present and future are one, in which the imagination wanders, it finds no new resources, in the present, past and future, with which to do its creative work. It has to make do with only the mental resources it takes with it - the mental pictures taken by the thinker's sense organs and the hand-me-down resources of the past.
The imagination of the human mind creates no new original resources from the timeless and spaceless void through which it wonders as it wanders. Instead it selects, here and there, from its' memory library, bits and pieces of mental resources, sewing them together in different patterns of new possibilities for the mind to chew on. The imagination is not a freelance reporter. It is something like a hired creative researcher, instructed by the thinker's mind to find and evaluate all available facts about a given idea or assumption.
For example: How and when the universe was created? Some thinkers assume the answers can be found in the Christian Bible by scholars of the original Scriptures. From the, War of Science With Theology, by Andrew D. White, I quote:
"'Dr. John Lightfoot (17th century), Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, one of the most eminent Hebrew scholars of his time, declared, as the result of his most profound and exhaustive study of the Scriptures, that the heaven and earth and man, were created altogether, in the same instant' and 'this work took place and man was created by the Trinity, on Oct. 23rd, 4004 B.C. at 9 o'clock in the morning.'"
The thinking of Dr. Lightfoot represents the kind that begins with an assumption he believes to be a self-evident truth. He verifies that by what he has found in the Jewish Bible. He believes he already knows what the answer is, and he knows where to find the evidence to prove what he assumes. Dr. Lightfoot's mind instructs the imagination to collect facts from the Bible, which he assumes to be the infallible word of the Creator of heaven and earth. Therefore he believes the creative story, as described in the Bible, has to be how it all really happened. After exhaustive research the imagination, piecing together the Biblical evidence, reports the results. The Trinity did it, at the time Dr. Lightfoot announced.
There is another kind of thinking that begins with an assumption. The thinker in this case does not know the answer, and does not assume to know for sure where to find it. The mind of the thinker who knows he has no fool proof answer, or even where to best evidence can be found, will instruct the imagination to collect all known verified evidence on the subject. He sews the pieces together to see if the results suggest a new place to dig for new evidence to find a more plausible answer than any of the present ones. The imagination of this kind of thinker reports that all the verified bits and pieces we now know suggest the universe was born in a big explosion, some 15 billion years ago, and from a very small piece of that explosion the earth was born, 4 billion years ago.
The imagination of a thinking mind, like that of Dr. Lightfoot, would need to take a short step back in time, only 6000 years, to the rim of chaos and watch his Christian Triune God create, out of that dark chaotic void, heaven and earth and its center, including the human parent. With the Bible in hand the imagination of a Lightfoot thinker, while watching the creation, can draw mental images of God, as well as vivid pictures of the destruction of the human world, and the creation of heaven and hell, one of which will be the everlasting abode of every human by and by.
"The fact of all facts", Albert Schweitzer observed, "is we are surrounded by mystery". A mind, having been humbled by Schweitzer's observation, knows that the bits of verified evidence now known about cosmic matters, cannot validate any beginnings of heaven and earth, nor any images the imagination can project on the mental screen. The imagination of a thinker, who knows he knows only in part, will need to journey back in time 14 billion years before reaching the edge of nothingness to watch the birth of the universe, as it escaped from the womb of a big bang.
Who or what caused the Big Bang? Was it an accident? Was it an act of a foreign terrorist? Or was the explosion the result of a war between atoms, too crowded in the womb of a void? The report of the imagination ends with, "The investigation continues."
While the imagination of such a mind wanders back toward the present, across the space of a trillion times a trillion miles, it is awed by the countless stars and planets in every direction, scattered over a sky-scape as far as the imagination can see. What lies beyond cannot be conceptualized by the imagination of a finite mind. It can do no more than stand at its imaginary edge, gaze into the void beyond, and wonder.
After wandering among the stars and planets toward home for eight or more billion years, the imagination, humbled by its finiteness, stops to watch a very small ball of the boiling matter set in motion by the big creative bang. Turning itself over and over on its axis every 24 hours as it orbits a star every year, it captures the interest of the imagination enough for it to stick around to see what will become of this tiny fireball of the substance of the universe.
The imagination watches as the little red hot ball smoothes out the bumps on the airway it travels during the daily spin on its axis, and evens out the time between night and day as best circumstances permit, and figures out a time schedule for its' annual trip around the sun. The little ball of hot matter patiently settles down and waits for the winds of heaven to cool its hot temperature as it faithfully makes its' monotonous daily spin through day and night, in hopes all parts will be evenly cooled according to each climate zone. During the next billion years, its' surface cools enough for this small planet to begin its work of transforming itself into one of the rare living planets in the universe.
With its own volcanic backhoe the little planet shovels out huge chasms, long, deep and wide, and builds high mountain ranges with barren dirt and stone. Between them it scoops out ditches for rivers and streams. It waits for the wind and rain, that it entices from heaven, to fill the chasms with water. It creates wide level fields and rolling plains of fertile soil. Most of the next billion years, with its volcanic shovel and quake-ax, the little planet was busy moving the seas and land masses around on its surface, raising a sea floor here and lowering a mountain there, pushing up new hills and digging lakes in many places, until her aesthetic taste is satisfied with herself.
For another half billion years, more or less, our patient observing imagination waits to see what will be the results of all the little planet's labor, with no sound to disturb or enchant, other than the sounds of thunder, wind, quakes and ocean waves, and nothing to see but barren land and lifeless seas. One day our imagination watches as a tiny speck, floating in a sheltered nook on the shore by the sea, unites with another speck, and then another and another, until a stem forms long enough for one end to reach the bottom of the shallow sea and plants itself in the soft soil, while the top end sways in the wind just above the water line.
While unknown centuries passed the plants of the sea multiplied and populated the sea with countless forms. Then one day our imagination observed a plant producing seeds from which hatched multiple cell forms of life, no longer tied to the floor of the sea. They rode the waves or swam under them. During the passing of the next billion years, our imagination observed all the life forms of land and sea, as they were born to the descendants of the tiny "Adam and Eve", who were conceived in the womb of salt water by the mystery that is Life, and nurtured in the eddies near the ocean shores of the world.
After observing the evolution of life forms on earth, from their smallest beginning to the largest plants and animals on land and in the sea, and even though my imaginations' ability to observe is unhampered by time and space, I am humbled by the mysteries - the unknowns - involved in the creative story of the universe, and especially the creation of the countless life forms on the earth. Convinced by all that my mental senses have collected during my long trip into the past, I confess that there are mysteries beyond what I can imagine. The following are opinions of a finite imagination - one that knows it can imagine only in part.
I stopped on my way out to the Big Bang beginning. I stood on the edge of chaos and tried but could not imagine the darkness being blown out with light. I could not imagine heaven and earth, with all its life forms, being created all at once by a conscious, all knowing, all powerful, and ever present Creator.
After what I observed and learned of the universe through which I traveled during the rest of the trip out to the Big Bang beginning, and my wandering way back to the present, I tried to imagine how all these things evolved from an explosion so long ago. Even though the bits and pieces of the totality of reality we can verify seem to suggest it, and even after all I have seen and experienced during my long trip into the past, it is hard to imagine how it all started with a big bang. Even harder still is to imagine it was all created, according to Lightfoot's imagination, by the Christian God in a moment, only 6000 years ago.
Students of tangible reality seem to agree, it began with a Big Bang. But what caused the explosions? (NOTE: The latest theory I have heard, is that the explosion was not in one place, but all over whatever was there before the big bangs.) The theory of the origin of the universe easiest for me to imagine is the one known as Continuous Creation, or Steady State. As I imagine it, the theory assumes all parts of the universe, like humans, are born, rear children and die while the universe lives on. However, most, if not all those who have spent their days and years piecing together all the known bits of verified facts about the substance of the universe and its activities, seem to agree the big bang theory is more consistent with what is now known. Let us then assume it was a big bang, some 14 billion years ago that gave birth to the universe. Then, what caused the explosion?
I suggest the most fruitful way to wonder about an answer to that question, is to begin where and how Albert Schweitzer did, in developing his world and life view. We must humble ourselves before the "fact of all facts...that we are surrounded by mystery." Imagine everything our sense organs have identified, in the heavens and earth, including ourselves, and everything in the universe that may still be beyond what we can now imagine. Now assume all these things you have imagined are manifestations of will to live - the essence of whatever is Life as such. Then assume the big bang was an act of the essence of Life, freeing itself from formlessness. In the following pages we will explore where our thinking might lead, by beginning with such assumptions.
Many of our daily mundane activities are done by force of habit, rather than conscious thinking. Before we celebrated our 10th birthday most of us were tying our shoes habitually, requiring no conscious mental advice. That was not true when we were younger and beginning to try to tie our shoes. It was only after many failed and unsuccessful conscious mental and physical efforts that I could tie mine without my conscious mind having to tell me what to do next. The origin of all habits is assumptions. An assumption, whatever it may be, is the creation of somebody's conscious mental and physical efforts. The superstructures of thought, that one erects, by his conscious thinking and acting, can be no more creditable than the assumptions on which he builds them - on what he assumes is true at the outset.
Someone said an unexamined life is not worth living. Be that as it may, if we really examine our lives, we must examine our beginning assumptions - our own insights, precepts and concepts or those of others we build on - what our forefathers identified as "self evident truths". When we examine those assumptions on which we still build our superstructures of thought, we will discover we got them from the hand-me downs of our heritage: the finished products of the mental creations of people, who lived ages ago, or only slightly modified forms by later generations. The origin of some of our assumptions that still largely determine our thinking and acting can be traced back to instinctive habits of our primate ancestors. For example: Judging from the activities we can observe of the non-human creatures, each is in a life and death competitive struggle with all others for something to eat and to escape being eaten. Judging the instinctive practices of our primate ancestors to have been essentially those of their non-human descendants today, the ground rule of their struggle to eat and survive was that everyone was free to exploit - take advantage of - everyone else, according to the ability of each to do so.
We have reported that, as long ago as 5000 years, humans consciously cooperated with one another, in organized groups to secure the means to live and play, and for protection. The records show they tried to cooperate in their group adventures on an assumption essentially the same as the instinctive ground rule of our primate ancestors - everyone was free to take from the group as much for his cooperation as he had the power to demand. The difference between the rules of the animals and those of the first human groups was that some humans were more free than others.
During the last 5000 years human groups, at different times and places, have, by thought and action, erected a variety of administrative superstructures to direct and try to perfect the cooperation of the people of their respective societies, and the cooperation between independent societies. There is one thing these human groups have in common. Their administrative superstructures are all built on the assumption that everyone is free to take from society, for their cooperation, as much means to live and play as they have the ability to do so - but some are more free to do so. This is equally true of every self-governed society. Each is free to take for itself and as much as it has the power to demand. If you were not thinking about something else while reading the above, you don't have to guess what must be said next.
History and current events so painfully reveal that the results of our human efforts to cooperate on the above assumption have been poverty for most and the tragedy of war for all - and its champion of all champions today are the people of the United States. The noble statement of purpose for the new nation in North America, by its founders, has been, perhaps, the most inspiring and challenging to humanity of all such statements by other founders of new societies.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all humans are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness."
What administrative superstructure did we build, with which we hoped to achieve these noble objectives? Embedded in the founders' affirmation, was the fundamental assumption on which all previous societies built their superstructures. The superstructure of the United States is widely known as The Democratic Society of North America with its' private Competitive Free Market Economy. The assumption, on which it is built, is implicitly stated - everyone is free to compete with everybody else for the essentials to live and play, with the unalienable right of everyone to take as much from his society, for his cooperation, according to his ability to do so. Here we are living in the 21st century still trying to function with this survival of the fittest mentality, handed down to us over the last 5000 years. Some are still more free than others and some still enjoy more inalienable rights than others but all live a fearful and insecure existence.
That is the essence of the assumptions by which we have, and still do, justify our domestic and foreign policies and practices. During my lifetime, to defend such terms of cooperation and to encourage and support their practice in the rest of the world, the United States has fought two world wars, major wars in Korea, Vietnam and the Near East, and small ones in other places. During the last 40 years, to support the Cold War against Russia, the major opponent to our ground rules, we have spent trillions of dollars to arm ourselves with modern weapons, for military aid to our allies, and to recruit others. The cold war expenditures have left the Soviet Union bankrupt and torn apart. We too would have to declare bankruptcy, if all our debts had to be paid next week.
It is not for lack of expressed good intentions or efforts that we have failed by a long shot, to realize the American dream, as described by the founders of the nation. Our economy fell flat on its face sixty years ago. During those decades we have tried New Deals, Square Deals and Fair Deals. We have experimented with Trickle-up Deals, Trickle-Down Deals and fought Johnson's War On Poverty. The declared objective of each deal was full employment - every job paying enough to assure economic security from the cradle to the grave.
We justify all our economic experimentation and foreign policies in the name of such economic security and peace. If the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights describes the objectives of its' member nations, then the declared economic and foreign policies of the rest of the world are the same as our declared objectives. Such desired objectives are not just a modern aspiration. In the literature of the past we learn such were the declared objectives of generations thousands of years ago. Yet, regardless of the ways by which we have tried, in the past and present, to achieve what seems to be a universally desired objectives we have failed miserably.
Today it is not for lack of know how or means to produce and distribute the necessary goods and services to achieve our declared economic and political objectives. Neither is our failure due to lack of means of communication to coordinate the efforts of the world to achieve peace on earth and economic security for all involved.
Over the last 60 years, at least, we have failed to achieve those objectives for one of two reasons. Either our expressed desires and declared intentions are not sincere, or our means are inconsistent with our declared objectives. Or is it a combination of both?
Are all the desires and declared intentions, expressed in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights insincere? Have all the expressed desires and intentions of the past and present, which have inspired us to do so many things in the name of world peace and economic security for all, been insincere? Have insincerely expressed desires and intentions, by our leaders, inspired us to hope to achieve objectives they believed impossible, or had no intention of trying to achieve?
I believe our failure to create a world free of poverty and war is not due to any insincerity in our desire or intentions. Our failure is a result of the inconsistency of the means by which we have tried to achieve our stated desires and objectives.
I believe that among the desires and intentions of humanity, most people prefer to live in a world free of the fear of war or poverty - where there is no human cause for anyone ever going to bed hungry, nor lack for any essential goods and services to live and play, according to the physical and mental abilities of each. Given a real opportunity to choose, I believe people would choose to live in such a world, rather than choose the chaotic world of war and poverty in which we have lived as far back as written history reveals.
Carl Sandburg summed up for me what self-evidence compels me to believe is true about my family of desires. I seriously doubt I have any desires that are better or worse than can be found in the family of desires of every other human. Sandburg summed it up in these lines from his poem Wilderness,
O, I got a Zoo, I got a menagerie, inside my ribs, under my bony head, under my red-valved heart - and I got something else: It is a father-child heart, a mother-child heart: it is a father, a mother, a lover."
If such a "something else" is a real member of the family of human desires, nothing less can now satisfy it's expectations than an interdependent world society, where every human - having a life to live - may work and play without fear of poverty and war. Such evidence and expressions of it, I have found in the literature of the ages, and expressions I have heard in private conversation and in public meetings of every sort for 80 years, enabling me to assume such a desire is a real member of the family of desires inside the ribs of humankind. That assumption justifies me to say the expressed intentions of leaders of all kinds to create such a society are not inconsistent with that desire of their being. The insincerity of their declared intentions lies in their pretense that they can create such a society using the means by which humans have tried and failed to do so for 5000 years.
I do not believe our long failure proves that under our "red-valved hearts" there is no desire that is consistent with the noble desires and intentions of our ancestors of long ago. Neither does the failure prove there is no such desire under our bony heads. It is true that our zoo mentality, so far has refused to let that "something else" be heard when big decisions are made. "Brotherly love" has not been allowed the final say when decisions are made effecting war and poverty, politics and economics. It has, so far, been allowed only to play the role of a Red Cross nurse on the battlefields and in slums created by decision makers. If the affirmations expressed by the founders of the United States, and the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights are not sincere, and if all our public and private prayers and charity activities are nothing more than a camouflage of our real intentions, then Sandburg's "something else", under the ribs of the conscious human will-to-live, is an illusion. If that is the case the desire for a human world, where there is neither war nor poverty, is not a substance of the intangible essence of human life, but only a lure for suckers, foot soldiers and slaves of labor. On the other hand, all the expressed desires for a poverty war free world I have heard and read, reveals there is a great host, of every race and clan, whose self-evidence affirms its reality, whose whisper may be heard over the clamor of contrary desires in their intangible menagerie.
For those of us whose self-evidence affirms the existence of such a desire, the question becomes - what means are needed for us to achieve our primary objectives - a peaceful and economically secure world for all? Since all efforts to create such a world during all recorded history have tragically failed, it should be obvious. If we are to succeed, we will need to learn to think and act in many new ways. We must change the terms and means by which we cooperate with one another.
It has been said that "you must first think wisely, if you are to act wisely." With that advice in mind we will begin with the thinking business, and start by listing some of the old basic assumptions, by which we have justified how we think that determine how we act. Some appeared in earlier pages but need to be evaluated here. Determine which are consistent with our objectives and those that are not. And decide which must be discarded if we are to succeed where our ancestors have failed.
ASSUMPTION ONE. - In the world as it is, every human in a local society is entitled to as much access to the essential means to live and play as each has the power to demand for his or her cooperation. Similarly, each society has the freedom to meddle in the affairs of other societies according to the power of each to do so. Contrary to what leaders of nations profess, these observations are consistent with the facts of history and current events. Like wild animals in the wilderness, every human must compete for his bread for the essentials to live, with each being free to take as much as she desires, according to her power to do so. Likewise nations must compete with one another for space, resources and talent, the spoils going to the strongest and nothing to the weakest.
ASSUMPTION TWO. - We have ignored the fact that the earth is a limited place and acted on the assumption that its resources are inexhaustible. Just now we are beginning to be aware that the earth and it's resources are finite, and there is a limit to the number of humans it can provide with the raw materials essential to live on a desirable level of well being. Yet, for two reasons we are finding it hard to respect and act according to such facts. To do so would be contrary to practices consistent with the first assumption. To act as fast as needed, before being ethically and mentally ready to do so, would likely make for economic chaos. For ages high birth rates were encouraged to assure cannon fodder and slaves of labor. To this very day religious institutions encourage large families and respect for the right of women to have as many children as desired. Such attitudes make it difficult to get parents to control, intentionally, the birth rate at least as well as we are controlling the death rate by medical means.
ASSUMPTION THREE. Until now we have acted as though the absolute essentials for life, such as the natural resources of water, land and air, could not be seriously damaged by human activity. We are now confronted by real evidence, in the form of poisoned rivers, land, and air, that this was never true. We now realize that some things we have done will continue damaging the life sustaining forces of the earth for thousands of years.
The leaders of governments, industries and the military brass have known, for more than forty years, the residues from the use of atomic energy contain long lived crippling and deadly substances. Neither does the general public, with access to the public media, have any excuse for being ignorant of such knowledge. Instead of acting in ways consistent with such knowledge, for more than forty years we have continued to produce more such deadly atomic weapons, by the thousands, and testing them under ground, in air and in the stratosphere, while building atomic power plants for commercial use in a number of states. Other countries, able to do so, have done likewise.
Today, scattered over the world wherever there is an atomic power plant, there are tons of such contaminated waste stored in temporary containers. Where and how to store all this dangerous residue so it will not poison the earth's water, land and air, during the next 25 thousand years, nobody knows. Indeed, there is no rational way to imagine how it can be done.
Why did we ignore these known facts, and irrationally continue using atomic energy on the scale that we have for nearly fifty years, before we found a way to protect the ecology of the earth from the long life destructive waste that would be the results? I am aware of all the major answers advanced to justify our hasty use of atomic energy. The one by which we consciously or otherwise justify all other answers is, "the early bird gets the worm philosophy" of the first assumption listed here, The competitive provision of that assumption compels all competitors, if they expect to get the worms, to make haste to be the first to make use of every new means that promises to give one an advantage in the world market for power and wealth. When you are competing for your bread, those who make haste have a better chance of getting some.
There are other old assumptions that play big roles in determining how we think and act in our contacts with other humans. I will only name them here, not for their lack of influence in determining how individuals and groups think and act toward others. I do so because they are so easy to identify, once raised to a conscious level of reflection.
1.) Pride of race makes it hard for most people to think and act toward those of other races as deserving the same respect and rights as one's own. 2) The same is true of religious pride. 3.) Ethnic pride. 4.) National pride. 5.) And family pride. These local identities only partially identify a person's total self. They leave out the part of self that is involved with all humans outside those local boundaries, as well as the part of self involved with all non-human life of the earth, on which the very existence of everyone's life depends.
Our local identities are not intrinsically evil. They are subject to the manipulation of such basic assumptions as those briefly described already. The evil associated with the pride in our local identities lies in the divisive use our more basic assumptions make of them. We strive to divide and conquer by over enhancing the pride of one local group at the expense of others in their local identities, to the detriment of the common identities of all individuals and groups, and with the non-human life of the earth.
There is not much that can be done to lessen the divisiveness of these and other exclusive prides and loyalties, until we recognize and use the human resources we may have to disentangle our thinking and action from the domination of such basic assumptions. Those and kindred assumptions make securing one's bread a competitive struggle with all others. As long as that is true, local identities will demand and get our loyalties, at the expense of the individual and groups' identity with all other human and non-human life.
All observable forms of plant and animal life appear to be manifestations of some kind of instinctive will-to-live. The first order of business for each is to secure the means to continue living. We are no exception. The difference is the level of consciousness we have of the will-to-live. Knowing that without the means to exist nothing else, however desirable, is possible, increases, rather than diminishes, the human concern to secure adequate means to live. As long as there is no alternative for the individual, family, ethnic, racial, business or national groups, but to compete with one another in a life and death struggle for the essentials to exist, one's smallest identity unit - the self - will demand the greatest loyalty. One's largest group and farthest removed from self interest can expect only the least loyalty. I repeat, if humans have no choice but to assume they must compete with one another for means to exist, our identity groups will continue to play the divisive roles they have, during the last 5000 years.
It was my intention here to end this essay with some suggestions where to look for the resources for a non-competitive way of thinking and acting for our bread, that might allow us to cooperate on terms to create the human world of our expressed desires and prayers, and our declared intentions - a human world free of poverty and war.
For any modern society to exist in a reasonably satisfactory style, there are thousands of different jobs that must be done other than by the individual or those of his own parochial identity groups.
I have decided I can best make my suggestions by prefacing them with one example - that of the essential cotton mill workers. The owners of the mill read the stock market page and pull all the strings to maximize the profits on their investment. The treasurer signs the checks that pay the bills and is responsible for seeing that proper financial records are kept and reports of expenses and profits are sent to owners according to orders.
The spinners, weavers and knitters watch over a certain number of machines, fixing such things as a broken thread here and there, and call the secondhand if something more serious happens. The secondhand is one who walks around, with arms folded over his chest, overseeing a number of spinners, weavers or knitters, offering suggestions or criticism to some workers now and then, and calls the machine fixer for anything he can't fix without getting his hands dirty. The janitors keep the lint and dust sucked up from the floor, keep the bath rooms clean and supplied with towels and other necessities, report any exhaust fans that are not working properly, remove and properly dumps all kinds of trash, heavy and light, and endless other things they are expected or asked to do.
Keep in mind all these jobs must be done for the cotton mill to operate. It is now the accepted assumption that it's proper that major owners receive enough to give them access to the means to live in a beautiful home in the nicest part of the city or in any city far or near, or on an exotic country estate. The treasurer's pay should be enough for him to live in a modest home in a more desirable place than the mill community. The secondhand's pay is enough for one to live in one of the few more modern two bedroom houses in the Mill community, or its equal elsewhere. The pay of the spinners, weavers and knitters is enough for them to exist in one of the old identical small two bedroom houses that line the streets of the mill village, or at that level elsewhere. The janitors' pay is barely enough for one to live in the worst house and location in the mill community or the equal elsewhere.
Remember by the time we get to the janitors we are at or near the minimum wage bracket. His paycheck is all he has to exchange, at the company store, for all the essentials to live and play for himself and all his dependents.
While meditating on that arrangement of rewarding essential work done with such unequal access to the necessities to live and play: above the shouts of the usual arguments justifying such a rewarding arrangement, if you hear, feel or sense, in the world of your feelings and thoughts any contrary argument, or a wish that rewards were equal, or even nearly so - that is where I suggest you begin digging for the human resources, from which alternative assumptions may be created - assumptions capable of nurturing and justifying new ways of thinking and acting about work and its rewards.
Think about the lettuce, cabbage, coffee bean and fruit pickers; the seamstresses in Hong Kong, Mexico and poor immigrants who sew in American industries. Knowing how little their labor is rewarded and being aware that it is the exploitation of these workers that enables you to afford them, is there anything inside your ribs that decreases the flavors of your dinner, or touches you with a sense of guilt when you wear your new suit or gown? If so it is in that area of your rib cage where you will find, among your thoughts and feelings, suggestions for new ways of cooperation that can assure every essential worker equal access to the essential means to live and play.
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