Since prehistoric times man has waged a desperate struggle with these two innate forces the outcome of which will probably decide our human destiny.
The battle to harness human selfishness has spawned recurring wars for thousands of years.
This repetitive cycle of warfare is astonishing and confirms the dysfunctional nature of mankind.
Why are our intelligent, sometimes brilliant leaders not able to break out of this addictive pattern of destructiveness?
Perhaps there is some wisdom, when searching for a path through this psychological maze to look back at our very own indigenous people. Because of the hostile environment they lived in, they were forced to make sharing fundamental to their existence. A hunter would bring back food: deer, fish, geese, rabbit – and the whole village would eat.
For centuries the indigenous tribes of Canada have survived and often thrived with a collaborative approach to sustain their way of life. The wilderness; storms, floods, wild animals made life precarious but they had learned that selfishness would tear their society apart. The only way to achieve achieve some kind balance was to control selfishness and greed. Of course it was not perfect, no system is but in our time of crisis we should take note of these primitive peoples profound message: Sharing and community over Hubris and greed.
For years we have know that humans have two dominant sides to their nature, the dark side and the bright side. Both are necessary to function in our world.
In simplistic terms the bright side embodies sharing, nurturing, harmony, artistry. The dark side embodies; conflict, passion, destruction, creativity. The challenge facing us all is, how can we rank these dynamic forces in a way that promotes creativity and passion yet honors sharing and empathy. This is the ground where the ultimate conflict will take place. Shall we continue with this addiction to violence, arrogance and greed that is a toxin in our blood?
Or shall we devise a plan to control this love of warfare with a humanitarian belief based on sharing, justice, creativity, and respect.
The concept of sharing as a cornerstone of community met its greatest challenge with the arrival of cultivation. Being able to grow food and live in one location, meant the start of permanent dwellings, villages and towns were built, and humans found leisure time and with it came creative thought. Craftsmanship flourished and with it came trade and a society that developed a class system.The desperate need to hunt, to follow the migrating herds, to live in tents was gone.
There was and always will be a class system. In primitive times there was a ranking of talents and skills. The best tracker, the best shot, the best at making clothes and tools, the best with curing illness. This ranking was arrived at by natural selection under the intense pressure of survival. But underlying this system was the unspoken but vital concept of interdependence.
The class system in many wealthy countries, with the rise of capitalism, have minimised the Importance of caring and sharing. As so often happens in in history, the upper ten percent become enthralled with wealth and the belief that they are entitled to it. They ignore profound and enduring message of interdependence. There is an uprising of citizens and blood is shed.
The challenge intelligent people in Democracies are facing today is one that no society has been unable to solve in thousands of years. Will mankind ever be able to break the recurring cycle: Rise, Wealth, Arrogance, Brutalism, Fall.
One would have thought religions could have countered this incredible matrix of war, violence and corruption. The major religions have messages that could have formed a bulwark against man’s darker side but they have failed miserably. Brotherhood, justice, inclusiveness, empathy?
Perhaps because they too were seduced by the dark words greed and selfishness.The belief that only you have the sacred testament? You demonise ‘the other ’and immediately you violate the validity of your ‘ higher ground”. Religions have not focused on the inherent danger of the philosophy underpinning business and wealth accumulation. Do you see religious leaders in the street leading demonstrations for workers rights, homelessness,women’s rights. They do good works quietly in the background afraid of annoying their wealthy patrons.
The solution for mankind’s centuries search for a balanced, wholesome and creative society takes us back to primitive times and one word: interdependence. This word embodies all of man’s brighter side that the great religions talked endlessly and prayed about,( fairness, sharing, compassion, health, education.) but they failed to take it to the streets. They failed where a rationale, civil society can deliver it. We must now make this word central to our existence as a species: INTERDEPENDENCE.