Saturday, 1 October 2011

Our History


Let us shrink the time scale of our history. It is like zooming out our camera lens from focusing on a single shinning drop of water to capturing the vast panorama of a deep blue ocean – everything captured in the same dimensions of a liquid crystal display frame. Let us imagine of a mankind beyond languages, countries, religions, economies, conflicts, ethics and indices of developments. However let there be all human emotions and instincts at play like hunger, sensation of pain, delight, curiosity, ego, courage, possessiveness, jealousy, revenge and secrecy – the primal animal instincts to begin with and later joined in by a party of conditioned behaviors like trust, humor, ambition, compassion, betrayal, rationality and several others. We look at something very fundamental as to why we humans, having started as animal-like have gone on to become so much different from them. So we look at the how part, which could be an interesting journey for us and may be quite amusing and philosophical too. We will traverse quickly on time, not connecting established theories, thus avoiding us getting drawn into their details and eventually getting drowned into one of them. It will be like a short movie. But our senses have to remain alert and our convictions as uncomplicated as possible in order that we grasp the true essence of this story as opposed to ‘what we believe usually makes sense or have made sense to us in the past’. And then perhaps tickle our conscience with the why question and also play with those few options in our minds – either by taking on the flights to our fantasies or just washing it down with our favorite swig.

Our Physiology

Physiologically our primary difference with other animals lies within our brains and it is manifested behaviorally in our higher intelligence. We, humans, have eventually learnt to play even the game of chess which none of the animals, given the same number of years counted in millions, have done so far. However I shall sidestep the theory of evolution here as it may not be pertinent for this discussion. But more important will be to find out how we used this attribute to transform ourselves socially into what we are in this present day. Like animals, we started with hunting in forests but soon afterwards found that we are much weaker both in strength and in speed than many others in the animal kingdom. So, with our nimble hands, we invented tools for hunting. Meanwhile we must have also realized the strength of a collection over any individual. We had good vision and memories. So we could have weighed every consequence thoroughly before deciding on compromising with our innate animal ego and forming those collections. We perhaps did that by sharing ideas and attracting others towards ourselves to serve the common purpose, which the rest of the animals could never ever contrive, to such level of effectiveness, till date. So in the beginning of our history, every effort was directed at enabling us, as a collection, to climb up to the top of the food chain. And our constancy of purpose was so strong and focused that we soon achieved it. We humans even utilized our leisure time better than animals. We did gaze and ruminate at the surrounding objects while they just lazed around. We looked at the natural phenomena, took clues from those, thought, experimented, planned and trained us for our hunting expeditions much before than those actual events took place. And our missions were mostly successful and sometimes after several attempts. We, humans, also multiplied quite profusely and had average longevity much more than other animals – had great anatomies and metabolic systems – physiologically we were much superior and the creator definitely showed more bias in creating us.

We suddenly found ourselves in the middle of the food chain. On one hand we had to satiate our hunger by hunting birds, fish and herbivores. On the other, we have to survive from the carnivores. Our digestive system could not cope with carcasses hence the meat had to be fresh. And our taste preferred the herbivore meat than others. We built our shelters first on trees and thereafter discovering fire we could muster more courage to camp on the ground. As we got disgusted with the taste of raw meat we roasted it in the fire and that is how learned cooking. Also everyday we were uncertain about the day’s catch and there were seasons especially the winter when the animals went into hibernation and left some of us to starve. And we had to even survive starvation. The solution came as we learned to domesticate animals. Those became like our extended families and enjoyed protection, shelter and food. In turn they carried us and our loads. Some of them produced milk. Also we rode on them for hunting. Later when we learned crop cultivation we used them for tilling the land and carrying the produces. Hence at one point we almost did not need to kill animals more than what we required for our own meals. With time we came to realize that our existence was no more a threat within the animal kingdom. The next frontier for us was to combat the nature.

Our next frontier … Nature

While claiming the numero uno spot in the animal kingdom was tough, containing mother-nature and its adversities were even tougher. Yet humans have continued learning patterns from natural phenomena viz. the diurnal, seasonal and annual cycles and then again from the sun, the moon and the stars never giving up the hope for getting the better of nature. Ages have gone past and yet combating the bigger natural disasters like the tsunami, earthquakes, tornadoes, landslides, forest fire had been far too much for this race to handle. Path breaking events like the man sailing in the high seas, flying on aero planes and sending life into outer space and even landing fellow men in the moon had raised mountains of hope in us for being able to master the universe very soon but in reality a lot of that anticipated joy had to remain contained only within the Hollywood silver screens. While there is definitely hope for more successes in our space exploration missions but what we can explore or can collect information about is one thing while gaining mastery over them or being able to willfully control those is perhaps totally a different ball game. Here we may get practical and say that nature may not ever get tamed and that its ‘funny’ rule, not just limited to creation or expansion of the universe, will continue to be followed. What man at best can learn is how nature has behaved in the past and how that may do so in future but to manipulate that very force or cage it ‘like an animal in a zoo’ might not seem like a feasible target for our ever growing ambitions.

There was no constancy of purpose while unraveling the mystery of nature. Or even if that were there as it had been while climbing the food chain in the animal kingdom, our resolve got disoriented.

Animals have life force, hunger and ego. In satisfying their hunger, they are driven by their ego to use up their life forces in that process. They either kill or get killed depending on how much life force they have been blessed with by their creator. They have no other choice. We humans have been intelligent enough to decipher these patterns and master over most of them and survive in the animal world. But with Nature it has been extremely difficult. Inorganic matter due to its inability to move on its own may have created an impression that those are devoid of life forces. As we see them, they neither grow nor feel hungry. Though natural calamities do devour several millions of humans and animal lives – yet we do not recognize the gut of the inorganic nature. We do not see the brain of nature. Though planetary movements involve tremendous spending of energy which no ‘breakfast meal’ would have been able to provide. So we can imagine the kind of energy nature needs and that can never be generated from simple metabolic reactions in animals. It may be some electromagnetic force or radiation energy or nuclear fission or fusion energy which can produce such humongous quantum of energy to move such planets. And nature has that energy or life perpetually and it never seems to die or may be it will die sometime after.

For ages we have been trying to understand our relationships with nature. And in that process we learned several things. First we learned to communicate through signs and then verbally. It must have taken several thousand years to associate sounds with objects and behaviors. Then we had replicated the same association amongst many of us thereby establishing standards. We used those over and over again until a language took its birth. And it happened in isolation in several climes for several races to give birth to several disparate languages. Then by accident human beings learned to draw and eventually to write. Whatever knowledge were passed as words of mouth then started to get documented as real facts and also as individual fantasies. These texts and canons survived beyond the lifetimes of their authors and served as links between several generations of human civilization.

Our Civilization

Why humans became civilized? Is it because we knew everything about the primitive lifestyle of a hunter and got thoroughly bored with that? True. We domesticated animals, built shelters, invented the wheel, grew crops and found our journey of life more interesting that the one before. Also we realized that a single man could never ever have created an army of workmen, harvested entire fields and built big houses and roads. Our collective knowledge was only worth reckoning.

Was there still any constancy of purpose in us? May be yes or may be not. While we nurtured the ambition of knowing nature, we got mired in our superstitions, suppositions, experiments, rules and in, what we know as, scientific studies. Some of our scientists and philosophers hit roadblocks in their pursuits for truth, got thoroughly frustrated, even lost their purposes in life and eventually became crazy. Some others, mainly the common ‘economic’ men, decided to stay away from those ‘pure’ knowledge pursuits and display their passions and emotions in a different game. They started building kingdoms, states and much later corporations through mirroring the food chains of our animal kingdom and calling them as hierarchies within our human race. It was important to divide us into sub spices to resemble that within the animal kingdom and the only comfort was to assign oneself as a part of the superior sub spices whose victory was a foregone conclusion. Hence sometime we find some of us referring ourselves as tiger or elephant or octopus or snakes or donkeys or even a big fish. Greed and jealousy drove those of us into rampant fraudulent practices till laws came into vogue to give birth to a complex and sophisticated definition of justice. But by that time some of us have already made their fortunes as tigers. The ‘brighter’ amongst us assumed that they are the greatest and the most blessed amongst homo sapiens. Those of us thought that the other ‘darker’ ones are liable to domestication and can be treated similar to the herbivores a.k.a. ‘vegetarians’. And here constancy of purpose within the entire human race got a major jolt. Our societies got identified as the rulers and the ruled and ‘brighter’ ones selectively set their aspirations on to become the rulers. The preference for reproduction was aligned within our chosen sub species – through the regimens of religions, which tried to provide the erudite framework for establishing distinct dissimilarities between our sub species. But gradually some of that sham started giving in. We were literate earlier but more recently we have become open minded. As we started communicating more with our other sub species, we gradually found more similarities than differences which had been planted deep in our minds since we were young. We dared to break boundaries at individual levels though states and organizations still continue to hold on to their age old dogmas. In future, we do not know what will happen to the crusades which were initiated by the ‘brighter’ humans? Will the food-chain like hierarchy get demolished in human society? Will that profound illusion break? Did all of us realize something different about nature and what it wants to teach us?

Our Promises

How much sweet are power and wealth? We for ages have realized that if we can command resources to work for us they do give us a feeling of sweet leisure and comfort. Any resource, animate or inanimate, which are generally craved for by others and considered as worthy of possessions, hence have become objects of our desire and all our energies are necessarily directed towards acquiring them one by one. Our kings and rulers always stood apart in their ambitions for such possessions. Needless to say that their successes attracted many more to follow them and hold them as visionaries and path breaking in our history books. Later on nations, colonies and their presiding bodies – both democracies and communists, tried several ways to control wealth and power under their jurisdiction – hence savor the sweetness of it at the end of the day. For us, who were ruled, there were rules, laws and contracts to fetter us with our own promises to our rulers or with one another. We were made loyalists and patriots.

Our Reunification?

So for several years, we have not had really made much headway in understanding nature. We rather spent time on developing human sub species, societal and organizational behaviors, structures and infrastructures of power and control. But if we look more carefully one important purpose may have been served quite silently in the background. That is the communication amongst billions of us across the entire world – in disparate climes and communities, speaking different languages and holding on to separate value systems. Communication systems have expanded phenomenally on ground, in air, under sea and in the ether. The networks, satellite links, the servers, the routers and the dish antennae have all boosted communication. It is not important as to what is being communicated now since we know there are still lots of opportunistic propaganda going on from the power and the wealth seekers. But this may be a temporary phenomenon. The content and quality of our mass communication may get changed over time as our languages, both oral and written have been during their evolutions. We do not know whether this evolution will be super fast or slow – whether we can see it in our lifetime or it is for the generations to follow – nobody can really predict that. It may sound quite strange now; if after few centuries we start chanting the same ‘mantra’ from all across the world like in symphony orchestra – but without any motive for propaganda. It could simply be a way of unification of our thoughts – different parts of the world, though they will remain as individuals, can start feeling for others as part of one whole species – we can be back again as one human race. And communication will be so fast and through several devices, like almost instant, that privacy or security layers will carry no meaning and we may not be threatened by the absence of it. Some anomalies may continue to exist for some more time in the form of food chain maniacs trying to profile and possess other human minds. Also the societies will comprise of equally intelligent parts and the competitive edge will be lost – it will not matter what we call that. It can be democracy or communism or anything else – it will hardly matter. However the constancy of purpose will be restored.

Now what can happen to us, when we are put on the communication ‘freeways’ and get instantly and equally enlightened? Can we say that we have completed one more milestone in our quest for understanding nature? May be the next step would not have been possible without achieving this previous one. Who knows? And no one can really see the future. At best we can guess knowing fully well that any guess can be wrong.

Our Quest?

But even after several such milestones and several ages later – and here again, we will need to sidestep our concerns about climate change and global warming and just add them to the list of calamities, both natural and man made, that are taking away human lives at every moment – there may be an end. Nobody however can write off the possibilities of a sudden or accidental event ending the existence of human life on earth – like we may speculate about what may have happened in Mars or in Venus – but then every debate will become redundant. But there is no reason to feel that pessimistic. We can jolly well rest our beliefs on the super natural abilities of our creator – the nature and its promises by which it had been showing us rays of hope every morning we wake up.

Our Creator?

Why did our creator do it this way? Was he not just happy by creating this universe?  Did he also try to leave the blueprint of his creation in a tiny corner of his creation itself – which we could imagine as the core or the brain or the central nervous system? But even more interesting will be to imagine us as that consciousness or intelligence within that core (say our earth) who is able to decipher the entire plan of the creator who never lived within his creation. But the creator left clues in his creation and made it complex enough so that he could watch his own game for ages – laughing and complimenting himself on every twists and turns that this tiny conscious being on earth took and moved on from one step to the next. As if at every moment this being was inching closer to the end game. Something like a game of chess but perhaps million times more complicated and it is so much lengthy that generations changed and yet this game never ended. But again let us ask why? Perhaps the creator was so much filled with boredom that he had to create some humor and entertainment for himself. And his building blocks were all the same – the atoms and the molecules and here again I will like to sidestep all the valid and useful theories. But he created human eyes too see not the real objects but optical illusions or Maya and their brains to imagine thousands of nuances – and that made his creation very interesting!

Do not know whether it is true or not but as per Indian philosophy, Sri the Goddess of Fortune (destiny), Bhu the Goddess of the Earth (ignorance) and Durga the external material energy (passion) are the three distinct forms of this grand illusion --- Maya.

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