This I Believe

penny - Linthicum, Maryland
Entered on December 20, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
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I believe that humans are insufficiently advanced for our responsibilities and we must work much harder to overcome our instincts to avoid global catastrophe.

We are very clever. We have learned to change the world to our advantage, including enabling many more people to exist than our social evolution allows.

Socially we are comfortable with and loyal to family, extended family and small group. Beyond that we automatically resort to “us and them”, “we and they” , “friend and foe”.

Which group: the “us” is not as relevant as the presence of and the fear of the “them” This fear leads to confrontation, conflict and war. Our societies, I fear, thrive on this.

We teach our children to share and cooperate in the family, the classroom and the athletic field and beyond that we encourage confrontation and conflict. Intelligent 20 year olds paint their faces and scream at those on the other side of the football field. South sea islanders from one side of the island make war over a cricket match with those who live on the other shore. My flag is bigger and flies higher than yours. It is as natural to our nature as greed but we must learn to avoid it.

Our intelligence ha allowed us to farm, to fish, to build cities and mine minerals and thereby advance our standard of living and maybe our quality of life. We do this at the expense of the the other – be it our home valley, our fish stocks our other castes and our neighbouring countries and our fear of those beyond our group will bring us to disaster.

Our nearest relatives are the Chimpanzee who make war and the Bonobo who make love, and I fear that we are closer in behaviour to the chimpanzees.

I believe that to avoid ultimate disaster to the world we have made we must teach our people to refrain from the fear of all things different.