We live in a new world that we -must- choose to shape using compassion and awareness. And to choose wisely and with compassion, and we need new rules. Stat!
Throughout most of human history, average life expectancies were in the mid forties at best. Life was rough, tenuous; personal survival was uncertain. As a result, we used survival strategies as our primary means of forging our ways through time. We used our minds in good ways, of course, but the truth is there is a pervasive and an ugly underside of how we got this far: We bullied our way through life due to the need to survive. We ‘conquered,’ ‘colonized,’ and created numerous social hierarchies with devastating consequences for millions who were assigned lower status due to not being able to fight back against physical force.
As cultures evolved further, they changed, as all cultures do in response to innovations. So now ‘bullying’ -which has always been about ‘might making right’ most definitely includes the (often unnoticed) privilege or ‘might’ of some groups, (straight white males are still vastly over represented in positions of power and authority as any conscious adult can tell you).
But ‘might makes right’ mindsets (MMR) have also skewed our thinking and influenced humans to strive for ‘power over’ in terms of having more money, education, and the ability to spread ideas. Then there’s the governing aspects of the might to affect the law, as well as the ability to actually use (state sanctioned) force.
More subtly, instead of using brute force, we now shout ideas down through a combination of marketing and corruption. Specifically corporations simply buy politicians that will write political legislation that is favorable to them, while also heavily funding the spread of ideas about the need for whatever they are peddling…let’s say just for the sake of argument that wealthy corporations want to promote the idea of the need for ‘a strong defense’ (the entire US Military Industrial Complex, anyone?). Viola, billions spent on unneeded and in fact harmful defense projects, while millions go hungry.
Meanwhile, in ‘entertainment,’ millions of dollars are spent to echo, subtly reinforce, and market certain ideas into sustained normalcy. In addition to some groups being over represented and others being woefully underrepresented, the use of force (which is might makes right) has been normalized to grotesque levels over the past few decades in all forms of popular entertainment, resulting in kids and adults watching literally thousands of murders, rapes and assaults as entertainment. Go MMR! Try explaining that as a sane pastime to any friendly alien asking about our cultural norms. The bloodthirsty crowds watching the gladiators of old were nothing compared to what we have these days. “But it’s just entertainment! No harm is actually done,” some will say.
The point is, we more often use these newer means of MMR rather than turn strictly to physical violence. But what we have to keep in mind is that physical violence is still something that those who are stuck in MMR, bullying kinds of mindsets will resort to.
Any one (still) using words like dominate, crush, or subdue in reference to other humans is okay with survival era tactics of bullying others. This includes fascists and predatory capitalists. It also includes religious fanatics. It includes others who aren’t as extreme, but still infected with outdated and unhelpful ideas about competition. But I digress a little.
What is also clear to a majority of us: Survival strategies used in the pre Anthropocene and strategies for living wisely in the Anthropocene are quite different.
So What Do We Do?
Millions of us are very aware of the need to change tactics immediately. We lament greed and fear and know they are somehow at play, but we are still unclear as to exactly how. In our hearts, millions of us know that it is because these are primary shadow values that are in conflict with truly positive values of being creative and thinking in terms of compassion and social justice for all.
But millions also mistake greed and fear based living for ‘human nature.’ And while greed and fear based living are a part of our realities, it’s not the whole story.
It’s true that in survival mode greed and fear based decisions are normal. And no one is really focused on fairness or the rights of others- no one. Worry over survival was an important reality for many humans in the pre Anthropocene.
But using MMR survival strategies in the Anthropocene is pure folly. In worlds where our survival should be a given, and our goals should be to create a good standard of living for all beings, the use of greed and fear based tactics will not ever produce anything resembling peace and prosperity for all.
And so our main tasks must be to liberate those who are still mired in MMR type thinking in all sorts of ways.
Post MMR living and mindsets need to become the norm. The use of MMR needs to be called out as the folly it is, and eradicated from the shadow sides of our cultural norms. It is clear to many that we have to do this work in order for humans to even survive on the planet. Even if you don’t believe the situation is that dire, it should be clear that increasing the use of compassion and decreasing the use of MMR thinking (and all the greed, corruption, and status based thinking that go with it) in decision making are two strategies we must employ if we are to attain higher standards of living for all people and the planet.
Compassion and collaboration are two of the most under recognized strategies that we have at our disposal. Yet they have been and still are the most important qualities to our survival as individuals, and as a species. None of us would be here without an average of 18 years of compassion being shown to us, none of us. Yet the importance of the quality has remained invisible to many, since it is not a tool used to gain status, which is what the sicker elements of our cultures keep pushing us to think about. We have many examples of compassion and cooperative living to build upon. Many are found in social movements for justice- which BTW, is how the species keeps evolving. We must actively help keep them emerging, like plants in the spring time. May we all have green thumbs and work for our best interests.