Reflections of Humanity: An Open Conversation
By: Luke Ingalls Liska
The greatest fault of humanity is in its inability to understand itself. We understand how the world around us works; we have landed humans on the moon, cured incurable diseases, discovered new galaxies, solved incredibly complex scientific problems, yet still…humanity wants to destroy itself and we are content in letting it do just that. Why? We are better than this. Yes, it is not the easy route. Not quick, simple, cheap, or anything guaranteed. Yet, we resist any motive to understand, to predict the consequences of our actions. It’s time humanity wakes up and starts to understand itself, to see the whole picture. We are at a fragile point in history; a point of moving forward or progressing backwards. One can only hope we choose the former.
Before I dive in, a few statements must be made. First, I am not directly referring to any specific recent global events (this text is adapted from a personal letter I wrote myself in 2015); I am referring to the state of the world. More importantly, what lead us to this current state, and how we may progress forward from this current state. It is my opinion that these events/attacks are a direct result of the state of our world, an ‘indicator’ that brings everything into perspective. Secondly, this is an incredibly complex subject to evaluate and cannot be ‘solved’ by a simple evaluation. As such, this solution is designed to start a conversation about what can be undertaken to help change the state of the world. Third, an extension of my first statement, I am not referring to the solution from the eyes of a single country, say America, I am referring to a solution from the collective whole that is the world, the whole that is humanity. Let’s Begin:
The salient problem of our world is war, anger, death, hatred. Why does this exist? Let’s make a list that the average person would quickly build: lack of basic needs for life, water, food, shelter; differences in religion; differences in political opinions; different nationality; lack of understanding; political brainwashing, be it through education, a country’s history, patriotism. Now, as a full evaluation would result in a dissertation length letter, I’d like to pull out a specific non-inclusive item from the list to evaluate, “Lack of Understanding”.
Currently, we understand the world as a collection of groups. We see different countries, religions, nationalities, backgrounds, professions, languages. Yet, we tend to pick and choose which group we belong to and stick to that. We are taught that people who are ‘different’ need to respected and that we should respect different cultures for what they are, even if ‘those people’ think differently than us. I argue that this is a fundamental reason for the state of the world. Instead of learning about others, accepting them into our own lives, truly understanding who they are, we are told to ‘tolerate’ them, to ‘respect’ them.
A recent personal experience has given new understanding of this concept and helps to describe it further: A few years ago, I wrapped up a graduate degree at the University of Denver, where there are over 1,400 international students from 89 different countries. In the beginning of the program, I came in understanding the world as a collection of groups, I thought that different groups of people were just that, different. Yet, I realized, despite the language and culture differences, my new found friends were exactly the same as myself. They were curious, open, friendly, we joked about the same concepts, we had extremely similar ‘culture specific jokes’. In fact, despite what the world had taught me, we were the same. We were all human. We all experience emotion, anger, love, anxiety and excitement the same way. It is my opinion that the greatest barrier to developing what we call ‘World Peace’ is exactly what we humans created to ‘survive’. It is groups.
We create groups, we create stereotypes, we create a sense of belonging to something. Even though we feel this gives us a feeling of belonging, of acceptance, in actuality, it separates us. This causes us to automatically separate ourselves, to push those who are different away and cling close to that which makes us a group. So, the question arises, how do we solve this? Is this the solution? In actuality, this is where the solutions becomes sticky and tricky. I would argue that even though this may be a fundamental root cause of the problem, it happens to be a necessary cause that is fundamental to maintaining a positive state of the world. Yet, why do I bring it up? This is because humanity has a false understanding of the problems they experience in the world. These problems are then grouped and escalated through these groups. Different groups then appoint leaders that serve as the collective whole and then suddenly, we have collective leaders who may or may not actually represent the group below. However, the average human does not recognize this and they suddenly start treating and thinking of people of a group as an extension of this person(s) who leads it. This is the root of the problem.
A simple example builds upon this idea: Imagine you just adopted a new puppy, the first puppy you have ever owned. As a newbie to the whole puppy experience, you are wondering how to train your new addition to the family. After trying to be the positive reinforcement type of trainer for a week, no progress is made. You are frustrated because the puppy is not understanding you, and quite apparently, you do not understand the puppy. You feel that the puppy is being spiteful and is purposely disobeying you. Now, we reach a clear fork in your puppy’s training. Do you A. become more researched in puppy training and realize that the positive reinforcement training takes time, dedication, and solid repetition. Or do you B. resort to the negative enforcement puppy trainer? If you choose route A. the training will take time, yet in the long run, your puppy will love you. He will be your best friend and live a long and prosperous life. If you choose route B. your puppy will learn much faster; yet, it will grow up to be afraid, to hide, sneak, and someday it’s temper may snap, possibly causing you to freak out and send it to the pound for ‘being evil or dangerous or whatever excuse you decide to make up’.
Understanding one another properly takes time, it takes dedication, trial and error. Understanding those of the world is not an easy task, it must be undertaken with an unbiased mind; one must open themselves to a place that is uncomfortable, possibly frustrating and seemingly pointless. This is the answer…which yet causes even more questions than answers.
So, this is where I need your help; how do we move forward?
Ideas I’ll throw out there . . .
Solution: Education. Promote access to unbiased information.
Ideas to Implement Solution:
World coalition of education/history
World ‘almanac of education’- designed to show an unbiased view of the world.
Alternative Ideas that will never happen in our lifetime:
Remove any aspect of ‘a country’, combine the world under a central group of leaders.
Agreement with all countries to remove all military force and focus on other aspects of life such as scientific achievement.