A couple of months ago we worked on a little project that unfortunately didn’t come through. We asked very smart people to contribute their thoughts about how the world is changing. Our single point in the briefing was: It should be about the Uncomfortable. Dannie Jost – you might know her as a speaker at our Cognitive Cities Conference –, always insightful and happy to help, contributed a text that we want to share with you.
Tools emerge, and solutions are discovered later. Problems are our prayers. Deeply baffled by human nature and its ability to muddle human affairs, I turn to the only truth that I know. Words. Just words. Beyond truth, I know reality. Reality is that part of truth that does not need belief. I can not believe the words, they just stand there and represent an experience, or a passing thought, and the never ending quest to make sense of it all. Words beg for interpretation.
The many ideologies invented in the past century – capitalism, communism and nationalism to name the biggest offenders – differ very little. This triumvirate wrecks havoc in human affairs every day. Uncomfortable times is the natural state of human affairs. When have the times not been uncomfortable? If one is to consider that last sentence in full, the only relief that there is, is that times is a passing thing. I can not cope with the discipline of history. One day, I asked a distinguished colleague and scholar in that discipline what it was that men had learned from history? I had the feeling that he had not taken my question seriously. He did not respond, he smiled, he did not dare laugh. I was truly interested in what a scholar of history would tell a scholar of science and technology. I did not get an answer. I may never get an answer. Is there an answer?
But what have we learned from science and technology? These are dark days for humanity, we are right back in the darkness of the middle ages where our ignorance is only exceeded by our arrogance and brutality. Ours! We, we are the humans. Are we a race? Are we a species? Are we von Neumann automatons? What on earth are we?
Failing any good answers forthcoming from history, despairing that religious dogma and Grimm’s tales provide comparable satisfaction, I advance the lubricous proposition that humans are animals. Lubricous is ludicrous. I am not dyslexic. Such is the condition of the animal roaming the planet, burning fossil fuels, incapable of understanding nuclear fusion, and then going on a witch-hunt for knowledge. Is knowledge going to fix anything at all when men’s irrationality still drives us to actions that destroy the very substrate that sustains all life? Between money and sex, what other interests are there?
The witch-hunt for knowledge includes burning those who are shy of numbers, fuzzy in their thinking and uncompromising in ideals. Those are the naive who believe that humans can act rationally. Humans can collectively act rationally, but we have not yet reached that desired state of civilization. I love those strange creatures who are born far from perfect, write a few words on paper, and go to battle and find a few more like minded who are willing to do battle with them. Some just write and leave the battle to others. Democratic constitutions and declarations of human rights are the creation of such fools who write words. Tools emerged: democratic constitutions and declarations of human rights.
Men do not deserve the governments that they get. French, Swiss, Libyans, Japanese, Germans, Australians, nobody deserves government. Governments, elected or not, are a matter of luck. Government is not a necessary evil either, it is the result of existence. It emerges where humans live. Some governments are better than others. No single ideology of government is ‘the right one.’ We do live in a manifold of problems. These problems are our prayers. Without them we would be bored out of our wits. We have all the problems that we have ever prayed for. We live in abundance of problems and we live in scarcity of spirit. We are animals fighting for survival. We are killing ourselves ever so slowly, ever so surely, and all ever so out of boredom! At the end, whenever that will be, we will not be just dust, but information. As the universe passes through another big bang, it will forget that we have existed. Will we remember?