How Sex, Politics, Money and Religion are Killing Planet Earth

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Box of Convention

Within the universe are an infinite number of realities outside the perception of human beings. The spectrums of infra red and ultra violet illuminate the retinas of birds and insects creating visual spectacles for those species we can only imagine. Elephants have an entire language based on deep sound frequencies too low for the human ear to perceive, and monitor lizards can track prey for miles with scent sensors on their tongues, never once heading off in the wrong direction. The enormous variety of phenomena, which we know lies outside of our perception points to a telling truth. Humans are simply biological organisms, limited by our sensory organs in our ability to perceive reality. Just as a goldfish interprets the universe as the view beyond the glass enclosure of his bowl, we too are essentially blind to the wonder of existence.

Yet, the human ego is one of the most misguided forces on Earth. In spite of knowing we are imperfect in our ability to perceive the external world, the human organism sincerely believes that with his sheer power of intellect, he can understand the mysteries of the universe. With our overdeveloped prefrontal lobe, we mistake our rational interpretations of reality as truth, forgetting that the true nature of existence is something that remains forever beyond our grasp due to our biological limitations.

With our powers of reason, we have developed scientific methods and philosophical analyses to scrutinize the world. Variables that fall outside the parameters we have established are discounted as metaphysical nonsense. Yet our very methods of analysis are flawed in that we are using a system we have created for evaluation and holding it up as the pinnacle of truth when we must accept as a given that we are incapable of perceiving said truth. Once upon a time all of the powers of human perception held as truth that the Earth was flat, and all of scientific understanding regarding the nature of the Earth was based on that basic flawed premise and was therefore itself flawed.

We are naïve to believe our current perceptions are any less fallible, but humanity holds steadfast to the myths of its own creation. With our large brains, we assume cognition, sentience and rationality are human attributes alone. With an occasional nod towards dolphins and whales who also boast exceptionally large brains, we view ourselves as the pinnacle of evolution. Once again, our truth is based exclusively from a human vantage point, omitting the infinite realities that exist beyond our perception.

What if cognition and sentience are not simply chemical synapses that take place within neural tissues as we assume? For all of our understanding about the brain and its function, a physical location or mechanism for consciousness has yet to be found. We assume that the trillions of synaptic reactions that take place within our heads are the culprit, but we also once assumed the world was flat.

Trees in a forest graft themselves together at the root creating an extensive network of connections below the terrestrial grade. If a pathogen attacks trees on one side of the forest, trees on the other side exhibit boosted immune reactions thus demonstrating a communication of sorts between trees. Increased stress hormone levels can be measured in trees when neighboring trees are being cut down. The arrogant human assumes that without a brain, a tree is inanimate, but the extensive networks of connections that exist within a forest are far more complex than those within the human scull. We don’t know what we don’t know.

The world humanity has shaped based on its own version of reality leaves much to be desired for the rest of Earth’s creation. For all our powers of intellect, we are a very stupid species. The course we now chart, patting ourselves on the back, is a path towards cataclysm for life on Earth. At the very least, we need to recognize that our human strategies for planetary management are failing. The Earth is round, and the solutions for solving the problems of humanity cannot be found within the same conventional box that created them.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Life in Two Dimensions

For the past few weeks, the newswires were alive with the saga of Shirley Shirrod, the Department of Agriculture employee forced to resign due to a malicious blogger taking some of her comments out of context.

Criticisms are flying in all directions. The Obama administration should have vetted the information they received. The right wing media fanned the flames. Yet at the foundation of the current hot news story is a malevolent blogger, who deliberately and willfully manipulated the truth. We aren’t hearing much about him.

While Shirley Shirrod has become a household name, Andrew Breitbart remains relatively cloaked in anonymity. When Mr. Breitbart deliberately edited video tape in order to misrepresent Shirley Shirrod for his own aims, he committed a crime called “libel.” As a nation, we have become so accustomed to this crime through the work of Fox News, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and their compatriots, that Breitbart’s actions barely raise an eyebrow.

Instead of a much-needed, in depth discussion delving into the disintegration of our public media and the complicity of said media on the disappearance of intelligent political discourse, two sides select their talking points, and the discussion is narrowed to meaningless rhetoric. The public sits and stares at the illuminated screen and numbly sucks up the slanted rhetoric like deer in headlights. The whine of the television seems to act as a hypnotic devise that instantly freezes neural pathways in the prefrontal lobe. Rational thought all but evaporates and is replaced by visceral sensations and feelings of righteousness.

David Gregory addresses his panel of well-known journalists and politicians and they all give the patent responses dictated by their respective right or left orientations. The idiot box, as my grandfather Darrel Abel used to refer to the television, drones out the same messages over and over. To Mr. Gregory’s credit, he attempts to get his panelists to clarify the apparent incongruities in their statements. How do Republican conservatives reconcile the apparent hypocrisy between offering tax cuts for the wealthy, when such actions will increase the federal deficit? But such questioning is outside the talking points, so the respondent parrots the same messages over and over again until Mr. Gregory is forced to abandon his quest in futility.

The television used to be a three-dimensional object. Computers once filled entire buildings with their volume. Now our televisions, computers and phones are flattening out. Electronics in two dimensions are more and more becoming the required accessories in any well-apportioned room. The computer binary language has entered the contemporary world in rapid force and has become the international language.

As our information delivery systems flatten, so does the information they project. Our world is reduced to ones and zeros, left or right, secular or religious, right or wrong. Flat. It is what we are becoming as sentient beings. Our perceptions and analyses of our very complex world are shedding information by an order of magnitude. How can we hope to solve multidimensional problems with two dimensional solutions?