Destructiveness is the outcome of an unlived life

In the beginning, the man was a ‘freak of nature’. He is now the most evolved species. With the development of reason and conscience he emerged, he felt ‘fully born’, ‘fully awake’, ‘fully human’. He felt he was complete. According to a view, Man is ruled by reason, rather than instincts. According to another view, human behaviour is more flexibly intelligent because they have more instincts. The paradox of evolution is that it makes man the most complex as well as the simplest. With evolution, man has become more integrated as well as differentiated. Man wants to maintain uniqueness as well as identity. He wants to be an integral part of society. His increased complexity makes him more versatile. His incentive to become more complex is that he wants to rule the Earth. Man rules the earth despite he is a minority among living things. Minority ruling the earth is therefore not a new phenomenon. In the beginning, the man was dependent on the environment. There were few men and their requirements were also few. The environment was not in danger. With the increase in number, man’s requirement increased. The increase, however, was disproportionate. Man-Environment balance, therefore, got threatened. As a consequence, the environment started feeling the pressure of man’s intrusions and exploits. Man is the sum of inherited and acquired qualities. He is born with instincts bred into him. His temperament is constitutional. It is changeable, to some extent, by insights and new experiences. His interaction with the outside world forms his character. Man is the product of genes and society. Genes give him less than what society requires of him. He wants more. To fulfill his need he tries to modify himself, both psychologically and sociologically. Should man use biology to increase his utility, as he has done with other living organisms? We want to rewrite life from the scratch. In the age of synthetic biology, we are trying to create novel forms of life. We want to synthesize DNA, from DNA to genes, from genes to genomes. We want to build the molecular machinery of completely new organisms. We say: “The genetic code is 3.6 billion years old. It’s time for a rewrite.” Some others say: “To take God’s place, without being God, is insane arrogance, a risky and dangerous venture.” Some say: “If we don’t play God, who will?” The progress in this century is continuing at a much faster pace. This raises a few questions: Should we leave the destiny of man in the hands of science alone? Does science need restraint, particularly in its application? Man belongs to two different worlds, the world of natural necessity and the world of moral freedom. In one sphere Man is doing pretty well. Much, however, is needed in other spheres. We are moving very fast in the material world. If we don’t want void or vortex formation, we must place moral baffles at appropriate places. The problems of moral freedom have appeared in every age. Whenever moral freedom has gone berserk, arrived amidst us few men to bring it under control. Such men shall arrive as they have arrived in the past. Man has not lost faith. He is learning from the follies. The day learning stops man will die. The man knows that destruction is bad. He is also learning to curb his capacity for destruction. Erich Fromm writes that man’s failure to use and spend what he has is the cause of his unhappiness. If he has potential, but somehow his tendency to grow is thwarted, he feels suffocated. The unspent energy undergoes a process of change and is transformed into destructive energy. The main point Fromm made was, “Destructiveness is the outcome of an unlived life.” Our failure to use, and to spend what we have, is one of the major causes of unhappiness. We are living far below our capacity. How to realize our unrealized possibilities is the greatest challenge of the time. More the man is complete, the less are the chances of unrest. Though we are continuously evolving, we are far from our destination. How far are we from the destination? Are we responsible for the future of evolution? We do not know if there is an ultimate destination of evolution. But we know that in many respects we are still inadequate. If something is inaccessible to us, we think it doesn’t exist. Our perceptions dictate how we see a particular thing and react to a particular situation. Only a few people see the world through a window. These exceptions have extrasensory perception. As Schumacher puts it: “This searching uses not only the sensory information but also other knowledge and experience…there are inevitably many things which people can see but which others cannot, or, to put it differently, for which some people are adequate while others are not.” Though man knows what a complete man should look like, man can’t engineer a complete man. “When systems are not engineered but instead allowed to evolve – to build themselves – then the resultant whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” We must recognize that we humans were produced by a process that was not engineering. There is another approach besides the strict engineering approach which can produce something of that complexity, and that’s the evolutionary approach. I think the idea of designing a complete man should not be entertained. One should wait for the complete man to evolve. Man can only become a man by education, a kind of education which encompasses those searching qualities. Let man understand that “there is far greater peril in buying knowledge than in buying meat and drink…” Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan writes, “An idealist view of life is not expressed in any one pattern. It is many-coloured and its forms are varied, yet underneath all the variations and oppositions there are certain common fundamental assumptions that show them all to be products of the same spirit.” Man is materialist and spiritualist. He is neither completely immoral nor completely moral. He is saintly as well as sinful. Science and religion have to work together to face the expectations of the new world. And as Osho says, the new man will be a mystic, a poet, and a scientist.

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© 2017 by Dr Purnendu Ghosh