Monday, December 3, 2012

World Peace: The End of Human Conflict Has Arrived

We now have the scientific knowledge about the genetic underpinnings of human behaviour that provides us with a formula to regulate (suppress) those who incite conflict. Here's a formula based upon recent research into the human brain and human consciousness that proves much of what we do/believe is based upon 'hard wiring':
  1. IF a deep-seated need to believe in religion is hardwired into our brains (http://www.economist.com/node/10875666)
  2. AND so is fear of non-tribe members, identified visually (race, uniform) or behaviourally (religion, culture, nationality) (http://preview.tinyurl.com/7myydg2
  3. AND all of humanity's leaders who endorse/embrace conflict share the trait of very low-empathy combined with extreme self-interest (narcissistic-psychopathology)  (http://preview.tinyurl.com/3vefsll)
THEN the majority of us can understand the roots of all human conflict and intervene with our democratic votes and social media voices to prevent it. 

By understanding our fundamental nature, the majority CAN come together to suppress those few individuals (and their hangers-on) who leverage our baser instincts to 'fire us up' to the point we are willing to kill each other just to benefit those same few.

Allow me to elaborate on my 'formula': 

1.  IF our human brains are hard-wired to invent/believe in religions, THEN those inventions/beliefs cannot have any basis in reality.
  • The evolution of our uniquely large, complex, brains brought about not only human consciousness (the ability to be introspective and imaginative) and an extremely social nature (necessary to protecting our slowly developing, vulnerable young), but along with these positive things for the majority, the fact that, given our brain's complexity, a fixed percentage of humans are born with/develop various mental disorders that lead them to do extremely harmful, insensitive things to other humans.  
  • To survive in spite of these anti-social, dangerous individuals among us, we had to evolve a powerful, innate 'instinct' that would create 'rules and regulations' imposed by the majority to try to control the few harmful individuals in the tribe. 
  • Our tendencies to see 'coincidence' in random things ('Old Wives' Tales'), and look for mystical answers for natural events we don't yet have the science to understand (sunrises, seasons, the urge to bond), then to ritualize our retelling of these stories and create regular social gatherings around the retelling, are not 'tendencies', it turns out, they are instincts.  
  • These innate, hard-wired instincts have been vitally important to our species' survival in getting us to the point when we could agree on a higher level of institutionalized rules and regulations (Government, police, courts, prisons, social media pressure, etc.).
  • But the key thing about this recent new understanding of our human nature's underpinnings is that IF we have an innate and irrepressible 'instinct' to come up with stories to explain coincidence (today's generation are hooked on seeing evidence of 'The Illuminati' all around them, rather than on traditional religions since education in the sciences has largely eliminated the need for ritualized mystical explanations for the world around them), then no religion can be real in any way (although we can never understand what came before the 'Big Bang').  
In other words, the religions we are all ready to die to 'defend' are made up and therefore not worth dying for any more than it would make sense to randomly distribute red hats and blue hats, then set about to kill all the people in the other hat colour!  "Faith" can be very beneficial: reassuring and creating a supportive social network for many humans, but the related impulse to then wish to believe that the mythological stories are based upon reality, and therefore something to die over, is not so beneficial to us.

2.  AND IF fear (a precursor of hatred) of 'not our tribe' is innate, THEN it is a subconscious driver of self-justification for killing the people down the street who aren't members of our tribe.
  • The tendency we all have to instinctively feel fear if we are 'parachuted' into a group of strangers we are unfamiliar with for any reason, be it visual differences (skin colour, uniform, size, etc.), or behavioural differences(culture, smells of food, language, etc.), or even 'conceptual' differences (religion, nationality) is not 'nurtured' into us, it turns out it is hard-wired.  
  • Having this instinct made a great deal of sense in terms of keeping we humans alive given our other tendencies, like our propensity for violence in defense of the carriers of our genes and in defense of resources (to keep those genetic carriers healthy and safe).  
  • What this means is that we can only overcome our natural tendency towards feeling fearful of anyone who is unfamiliar through familiarization (education and by open-mindedly welcoming intimate daily interactions with non-tribe members... and encouraging the same with our children).  
  • Isolation and segregation policies of any kind (religious or ethnic schools, or worse still, 'home-schooling', etc.) will only institutionalize our fearful instincts and turn fear into hatred within our tribe. 
Bar none, the very worst consequence of the combination of our instinct to be fearful of non-tribe members mixed with our complex human consciousness and our capacity for empathy towards others, is our need to resolve 'cognitive dissonance'.   In every group of humans ever studied, no matter how isolated from others their tribe is, or how 'primitive' or how 'civilized', there is an agreement among the members that their tribe is "the chosen people".  This instinct-driven notion is institutionalized among tribes through their local religion and other cultural 'us vs. them' mechanisms, like having a shared language. 

This nascent root of 'nationalism' (and the first 'national boundaries' were primarily defined by nothing more than a shared language) makes it possible for even the most empathetic of humans to justify the killing of non-tribe members in defense of either the carriers of their genes, or in defense of resources to keep their gene-carriers healthy and safe.  This incredibly powerful human tendency is sufficient to drive hundreds of thousands of humans to their deaths in countless wars without much more than a moment's hesitation because they are doing so 'in defense of the mother/fatherland' (ignoring the fact that the boundaries of their 'nation' are quite truly nothing more than a 'line drawn in the sand').  

Some 'not-so-smart-thinkers' out there enjoy thinking that war is a natural human mechanism for culling over-population and reducing competition for resources.  They are correct, but once the human population got so large that it blanketed the planet, culling the population with war (or even disease) is no longer a smart 'natural strategy' for us.   It is now far too arbitrary and motivated by a selfish few.

Education and the fair distribution of all of the planet's resources evenly (i.e. wealth/money) is.  The education of women, even to nothing more than an early high school level, reduces family size to less than 2 children (negative population growth).  Fair and equal distribution of wealth eliminates competitiveness amongst normally empathetic males (the vast majority) to a non-war-motivated level almost immediately and therefore reduces wars, the ends of which are key 'triggers', historically, to initiate a period of baby-making with many able-bodied males having been killed off.  Peace equals stability and with it less anxiety to produce a large brood in order to 'play the numbers game' to ensure survival of the parents' genes.

3.  AND the most 'successful' human leaders are extremely self-focused, obsessive, high IQ and low on the empathy spectrum (EQ), so intervention by the majority to control this personality type from having seductively high levels of power in high offices is essential in preventing them from leading us willy-nilly into wars designed only to increase their power/wealth.
  • All of humanity's most best known leaders, today and throughout history, the ones who achieve their region's highest office and then rule by abuse of power, share the trait of non-empathy combined with extreme self-interest (narcissistic-psychopathology).
  • Every single one, without exception.  In fact, they could NOT have risen to where they did without the traits that define the personality (brain) type:  Ghengis Khan, Alexander the Great, Cleopatra, Eric the Red, King Herod, Katherine the Great, Hitler, Ghadaffi, Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro, the Assad family, Netanyahu, Putin, the Jong-Il lads, Yasser Arafat, the ruler of Belorussia - Alexander Lukashenko, Mubarak, Venezuala's Hugo Ch├ívez, the Ayatolla Ruhollah Khomeini and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, etc.
  • These individuals are all more similar than different in key personality traits, such as their enthusiasm for jailing or murdering competitors (which tends to also mean they have a willingness to send their citizens into a battle to the death without much hand-wringing) and their utter disinterest in what is actually good for their citizens (real peace) -- unless it can benefit them (i.e. keeping the populace quiet by offering universal health care).
This last 'universal human truth' is the single biggest challenge to Democracy anywhere in the world.  Why?  Because the benefits derived from running for political office are few outside of the perception of power, being a politician is a boring, tedious, mind-numbing job.  (The only REAL power the majority of politicians have is a guaranteed, but relatively modest, lifetime pension and a modicum of fame, and lately in the US, the opportunity to accept a well-paying new job through lobbyists, also known as 'corruption', and the opportunity to take millions of dollars of unspent Super PAC money and put it into an offshore bank, also known as 'bribery'.)

Becoming a politician in a democracy is an onerous career choice.  The really smart, aggressive personality types tend to become 'Captains of Industry', or lawyers, or surgeons.  The personality type who is drawn to politics is often NOT the best and brightest, but rather the type that is comfortable with sitting around and squabbling, backroom dealing and hosting endless fundraisers with back-slapping glad handers.  

Getting elected requires the candidate to have not just a HUGE ego, but the egotistical drive to become someone that thousands of people liked so much that they voted for him/her -- after which point his/her job is to sit in endless, largely pointless sessions of government worrying about the next election.  The risk the populace faces regardless of the type of government that has be foisted upon them, is that the individuals who rise to the top in this sea of mediocre politicos are those who are more relentlessly energetic about infighting and working behind the scenes, and who are ruthless about cutting deals to get them ahead, and cutting off the heads (metaphorically speaking) of their chief rivals inside their party and in the opposing parties.  

The personality type who does all of this best are those who are highest up on the narcissistic-psychopathic spectrum.  Once they are at the top, doing what is best for the 99% of the populace is the LAST thing on their agendas -- they will focus intensely and narrowly on what is best for themselves, their supporters in the 1% and their friends and family.  

The only way that democratic governments will eventually TRULY work for the best interests of the majority of their citizens is by recognizing that this personality type is harmful to the masses when given too much power.  They can be quite effective when working within narrow constraints, but the adage that 'absolute power corrupts absolutely' is especially true of individuals who have no innate 'moral compass' -- once they recognize that they have risen to the point where they face few constraints, they quickly become dictatorial and all their worst traits come to the fore.  

The saddest thing about Democracy today is that many Europeans countries, as well as Canada, Israel, Egypt and America's Republican party are all NOT run by 'the will of the people', but by a small, loud, right-wing minority led by narcissistic-psychopaths who, having risen to power by hook or by crook (and usually that means manipulating the senior citizen vote by leveraging my points 1 & 2 above: religious and 'not of our tribe' instincts).  Once in power, they are tough to get rid of and they wreak havoc upon the best interests of the entire nation for decades to come, like taking the US to war in Iraq at the expense of the US taxpayers and poor families whose kids see the military as their best job opportunity, and solely in order to benefit the arms industry, the oil industry, and Haliburton, the US firm that was contracted to rebuild what the war broke (an end-to-end profit-making scheme).

What I'm suggesting is a slippery slope, and a very tough challenge to enact laws to prevent 'political correctness' from blinding us to the terrible consequences of 'being nice' to this personality type and pretending like they are 'just like everyone else'.  They are not and we need parameters in place to protect us from them.  The most extreme on the spectrum make up about 1% of our general population, but the ones lower down on the spectrum (a bell curve) are still worrisome.  (Among the 'population' of politicians in government, I'd have to believe from mere observation that the percentage who are quite high up on the spectrum of narcissistic-psychopaths is 50% or higher!)   

The first step is raising awareness about their baser impulses and what they will ALWAYS do once voted in and empowered.  Again...
  1. IF a deep-seated need to believe in religion is hardwired into our brains (http://www.economist.com/node/10875666)
  2. AND so is fear of non-tribe members, identified visually (race, uniform) or behaviourally (religion, culture, nationality) (http://preview.tinyurl.com/7myydg2
  3. AND all of humanity's leaders who endorse/embrace conflict share the trait of very low-empathy combined with extreme self-interest (narcissistic-psychopathology)  (http://preview.tinyurl.com/3vefsll) 
THEN the majority of us can understand the roots of all human conflict and intervene with our democratic votes and social media voices to prevent it.

If you see some merit in my point of view, link it, like it, tweet it, pass it on.  Together, through these Inter-webs gadgets, we just might change the world!  ;-)  (And if you haven't already, join AVAAZ.)

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