The Human Crisis as I Understand It

Column by Vahram G. Diehl.

Exclusive to STR 

It has been for me a comforting and long awaited personal revelation that the human body and its various metabolic constituents are not made special or apart from external reality. That we are not different from the food we consume, the other animals and plants with which we co-habituate the universe, the soil we cultivate, nor ultimately the very star from whose energy our planet and its precious vectors for supporting life are derived is an enlightening insight that until recently in history only a few daring men have held. For the fleeting time some ordinary proteins are assimilated into the pattern we collectively recognize as “human” before being passed back into the nutrient cycle, however, a seemingly extraordinary process otherwise entirely absent in the vast known universe commences. 
Gradually, a new dimension is born in individual autonomous human brains: a spring of conscious observation and awareness. With it, we are privy to the fruits of an extensive evolutionary heritage: fruits of insatiable curiosity, imagination, desire, emotion, volitional capacity for choice, and the most advanced rational minds yet shaped by natural genetic selection. Indeed, anything that has been called a spirit or a soul can through clearer examination and definition be understood as a contrivance of these basic intangible human qualities. If there is anything that can be said to be fundamental to our identities, it is this invisible wisp of awareness and passion which witnesses reality behind a momentarily and imperfectly self-replicating enzymatic catalyst for consciousness called the human body.  
I have come to understand that if we are to preserve and further advance the progress we as sentient components of an insentient universe have made in the evolutionary journey from humble beginnings to our present complexity in molecular architecture, it’s essential that we develop a new understanding of exactly what it means to be born human. We must apply our impressive intellect inwardly on our own identities with the same success and passion that intellectual pioneers of the past first applied it to the nature of the universe at large. To understand the problems that plague our world and arrive at their respective solutions, we must first and foremost come to know who and what we as individual self-aware beings really are; for it is only when one understands the mechanics of self that one can understand the humanity he constitutes.
Some very deep part of my own psychological landscape changed as I came to know the nature of my mental self and external reality more thoroughly through experience and analysis. The natural lust for life I had once shared with my childhood peers slowly waned and became draped in an expanding veil of scorn and criticism for the state of things tangible and intangible. In time, minor perturbations grew to a true hatred for the human race and its major affairs in the world. 
I found that reality itself made me sad, at least the parts of it I had come to know personally and through the experiential accounts of others relayed to me. It was only when I got far enough away from human influence and secluded into natural scenery that I felt in place in the world. The ever-present uneasiness I was subject to in the influence of most things man-made led me to the clear conclusion that either there was something fundamentally askew in my standards of analysis and preference, or that the vast majority of the human world really was as ugly and abominably scathed with errors as my bodily and emotional reactions made it seem to be. The core dissonance I felt with the world ostracized me from former acquaintances who had themselves not yet developed the fortitude to witness the emotional burden of my inquiry.
As my perspectives broadened and observations generalized, I realized that the situation at hand was not actually one composed of an innumerable multitude of problems (as was commonly believed) with each requiring special tactics, attention, and detail potentially spanning on forever into an infinite, incomprehensible complexity, dooming Earth's conscious inhabitants to an existence of barely mitigated suffering. 
Through proper education and intellectual filtering, I began to see humanity's dealings with itself as a simplex machine, and this simplicity as merely a particularly specialized extension of the greater machinery that is the Earth's ecosystems and the whole of clockwork cosmic evolution. When the faulty mental distinctions inherited from generations past were relinquished, the once endless series of questions and confusions about the nature of humanity also ended. In coming to understand myself and the principles by which I inescapably operated, I found I could catch a glimpse of the principles that made all of humanity operate. For the first time in my headstrong young life, I saw that no Gods, devils, saviors, saints, gurus, kings, emperors, presidents, or any other mystical influences and crowned ruffians were qualified or required to explain the problem or implement solutions. They were many to guide, but ultimately progress toward an accurate worldview rested firmly in my hands alone. 
The Individual
Man, having a body made from and part of an orderly universe which functions in perfect accordance with absolute laws, was himself also subject to inescapable governance over his nature and actions. Having been shaped by an evolutionary process powered through survival and reproduction, man naturally found himself with an unquenchable desire to do these very things to the best of his ability. Through improved knowledge, he found he could overcome the natural scarcity of resources that limited all other life on the planet to constant competition for existence in the finite space that would allow it. His dominance over his initial environment, and eventually almost all reachable environments, grew exponentially. 
Owing his strength and survival ultimately to his mutated intelligence and propensity for learning how things worked (and subsequently constructing tools for production with said knowledge), he too developed a biochemically triggered response to feel very happy and fulfilled when he was doing these things; likewise, he could not help but feel worthless and unfulfilled when he failed in his productive efforts or was otherwise restrained from living out his natural inclinations to mate and create. These emotional reactions to internal stimuli became an important incentive to be a successful parent and builder; the greater his discontent, subsequently so too the greater were his ambitions to rectify that discontent through action. 
His endless emotional pursuit to obtain an always-fading sense of happiness and to avoid unhappiness through action became his sole reason for existence and incentive to do anything. Ultimately, every possible course of action or inaction granted to him by his limited free will came down to a matter of his conceptualization of how the results of such action would increase his own happiness, a subjective happiness determined for him by his particular genetic mapping. The accuracy of his preconceptions varied and he learned through experience which things and actions truly did bring him happiness and which were wastes of time and energy that proved detrimental to his cause. He remembered this information, eventually recording it externally, and passed it on to successive generations so that they might benefit from his mistakes.
Through enough cumulative experience, man's instinctual “risk vs. reward” psychological guidance program gradually co-evolved with his changing environment into an automated system of cost/benefit analysis that underlined all his life and choices. The science of economics was born, and every individual man was a capitalist for optimal choice.
The individual, smart as he was, was smart enough to see that the length of his reach was pitifully less than the scope of his ambition. In time multiple individuals, who through chance shared similar enough ambitions, came together in a joint pursuit of happiness and goal achievement. The development of language and labels allowed them to share their intangible knowledge and abstract ideas with each other and unite under common inclinations into tribes and clans. Through the social virtues of communication, cooperation, trade, integrity, respect, education, empathy, and compassion, man learned how best to deal with his fellow man so that all parties involved profited to the greatest extent possible in their respective affairs. 
Ethical codes were created to teach man how he ought to choose to act with his limited freewill; concepts of morality were shaped around which actions had the greatest success in helping groups of men function together in optimal productivity. Groups that could not develop sufficient moral standards were skimmed from the gene pool as their dishonesty, thievery, rape, murder, and other destructive tendencies of coercion lowered their total output and eventually caused them to collapse in on themselves. The more moral a society, the higher its standard of living and rate of healthy population growth; the more immoral a society, the faster it plunged headlong into its own demise as it fed off the well-being of its own inhabitants like a ravenous cancer.
Contrary to modern misunderstandings of “survival of the fittest,” it seemed natural selection favored those who learned to get along and build prosperous societies more than it favored individual brute force and clever malicious manipulation. Ethical codes simplified over time from lengthy and convoluted religious fables and commandments to simple principles and guidelines that became an intuitive part of socialization. Many distant cultures over the course of thousands of years all, seemingly independently, arrived at some minor variation of “The Golden Rule” as the basis of their morality; natural memetic selection kept alive the precept that all men should envision things from the respective viewpoints of other men before taking actions that might negatively affect them and cause unfair unhappiness.   
The Ethical Engine
If an individual found himself privy to be living amongst moral neighbors and tribesmen, he accordingly found great incentive to produce and participate directly in the growth of the community, as he was directly compensated for every act of humanitarianism. His happiness grew exponentially with bigger and better accomplishments, the benefits of which could now extend out beyond his mere personal life and into countless other lives. Man took joy in seeing his efforts bring happiness to others, and likewise he too was now exposed to countless new innovative wonders of the collaborative efforts and commerce of his tribe, wonders that were limited only by the quantity and intelligence of his ethically acting neighbors. As his ability to control his environment increased, so too could he safely reproduce and increase his numbers with healthy, productive offspring who would carry on into bolder endeavors built from the successes of his time.
If, however, an individual had the poor fortune to be born into a lesser-evolved society where unethical acts were commonplace, he might fear for his safety and prosperity. His mistrust of his neighbors might cause him to guard the fruits of his productive efforts and seek as much isolation as he could. He might invest significant time and effort merely into taking precautionary defensive measures that in the end did nothing to actually produce anything new for himself or the community. 
Every time an individual found he had been cheated in some way out of something he rightfully achieved, he failed to receive the biochemically driven emotional boost in contentedness he should have felt as his instinctual reward for accomplishment. His natural emotional reward system became denatured and he no longer sought out accomplishment, only to take back from others what he felt they took from him. 
This anti-incentive to produce and only to take at the expense of others will spread amongst the group like a virus of the mind until everyone is infected and the society is doomed to spend its final hours in a chaotic struggle for power from all directions. The instinct to survive will keep these failing societies alive and struggling at a bare subsistence level of existence for as long as they physically can before entropy overtakes them. When desperation has stripped them of their higher mammalian virtues and social graces, they revert back to sub-human reptilian monstrosities incapable of foresight and empathy, crudely lumbering about searching for the easiest way to fulfill their immediate momentary biological needs. 
Ultimately, the science of sociology can be understood with a single basic principle: ethical action begets incentive to engage in productive social association and commit further ethical action; unethical action begets a lack of incentive to engage in productive social association and extra incentive for further unethical action. A given society is either building up and becoming more ethical and innovative, or it is falling down and receding further into immorality and destruction. Peace and prosperity are the direct logical inevitable conclusions of the sum total of moral voluntary commerce; war and poverty are the direct logical inevitable conclusions of the sum total of immoral involuntary crime.
The Cultural Ego
Unethical men, fearing the darker side of their shortsighted individual egos and propensities to regress into sinful aggressors against their fellow men, sought to impose ethical restrictions upon themselves and their tribe through thought control and superior physical force. Individual man, in making the mistake of presuming that some amount of evil action would always be an unavoidable necessity, chose to yield the power to lie, cheat, steal, murder, and make war into the hands of a minority (one usually appointed by God Himself) that he felt was better qualified than himself to wield such discriminatory capacity in the form of a collective cultural ego. Those who preferred not to surrender such control and to remain masters of their own lives were called dangerous threats to a civilized way of life, and were either outcast, imprisoned, or murdered for the sake of society. 
Mystics joined forces with warriors to form joint religious/political figureheads in control of the group's collective conceptions of God (the ultimate super-ego) and their own pooled physical weaponry in the form of peacekeepers, armies, and more the recently innovated hydrogen warheads and viral contagions. Most could be psychologically guided into acting a certain way through threats of hellfire and promises of heaven from the supposed divine creator of the universe and his appointed representatives on Earth. The most mentally resilient to propaganda could still be kept in line through the political process; the point of a spear, the loop of a noose, the blade of a guillotine, or the barrel of a gun became the last resorts to keeping the peace throughout various eras. 
The group control racket worked well within any closed population system; it stayed alive in spite of its inherent instability and net productive losses by expanding to assimilate new minds and producers into the swarm at an accelerating pace. A member of another tribe who believed in other enforced restrictions on human behavior was deemed heathen, barbarous, and threatening to anyone indoctrinated with a slightly different cultural ego; nationalism, patriotism, statism, racism, sexism, political partisanship, and religious bigotry were born out of that ego's xenophobic desire to condemn the strange and unfamiliar into obscurity. Those who could not conform to the whims of the momentarily prevailing masters of a given territory were sacrificed at the altar of socialism, all in a feeble effort to make last a few more moments in history yet another unsustainable ideological foundation for human society. 
In time, subjects no longer even needed to fear their masters; if indoctrinated from birth, a man could be made to hold great pride in his limitations, and even love the very institutions that held the perpetual gun at his back. This, we have been made to believe, is the only way to maintain any semblance of cooperation and peace in the world; that as bad as things are now, society would quickly fall into chaotic anarchy without the benevolence of the ruling class to maintain order through intimidation in the worldwide system of human affairs.
Our Present Crisis
The gambit of enforced order in human affairs has been running since well before the dawn of recorded history. As the generations have passed, unethical men have become more clever in their methods of control, weapons have grown larger and more destructive, and a plethora of benign labels have been assigned to describe various incarnations of what is essentially the same depressing scenario of mass servitude and sacrifice across arbitrarily divided parts of the planet.  
For as long as ruling bodies have existed, they have been at war with one another over the limited amounts of physical territory and human producers available to keep their faulty engines firing. The most successful of these coercive ideological doctrines (Ancient Rome and Egypt, Nazi Germany, modern China and America, etc.) have spread to great distances and heights in their hold on human behavior, but ultimately must falter as their production ceases or they are overtaken by a stronger competing cultural ego. No system of regulation yet enacted by men in our 6,000 year history has ever approached sustainability, and it seems the lifespan of more modern developed empires grows increasingly shorter as they acquire and combust with greater efficiency. The more regulatory a particular doctrine, the quicker it will burn itself out and must expand and assimilate at a proportionally rapid pace before it loses momentum. 
The population numbers in play have risen exponentially as we ourselves has risen from out of caves and into cities. War as we know it, the blemish on the face of humanity that has been the topic of a great many philosophical diatribes pertaining to its cause and nature, is nothing more than two or more mutually exclusive collective egos clashing with the combined physical firepower of their inmates at their disposal. As the magnitude of this physical firepower has increased from Stone Age spear-point technology to modern nuclear physics, so too has the magnitude of casualties in every major clash of egos. It is a foregone conclusion that if our destructive energy potential continues to increase at a faster pace than the birth rate, sooner or later we will annihilate every human (and likely a good many other species) on the planet. 
We have grown up and been trained in coercive pseudo-educational institutions to never question the nature of things. We have been told since time immemorial that the world we live in is the best of all possible worlds; that ours is not to reason why, but to do or to die. We are now so accustomed to imposed restrictions on our behavior, that we no longer notice the commonplace atrocities all around us in even the most “civilized” of nations. People everywhere are told how to think, speak, feel, produce, procreate, recreate, educate, read, write, parent, trade, and socialize to the extent that most of the details of their personal affairs are monitored and controlled. Those pretending to act in our best interest regulate and stifle the efficiency of our choices in business, mass transportation, healthcare, education, civil unions, employment, money supply, architecture, and all forms of tangible property. All of us have at one time committed the enormous crime of accepting this as ethical, rational, and necessary for human life to flourish on this planet.
The greatest casualty in this war for freedom of discretion has been the human spirit itself. Our innate uniqueness of humanity, all our intelligence, imagination, curiosity, and passion have been diminished to a mere iota of their natural glory and relegated to a routine of monotonous servitude requiring only a highly refined expenditure of energy on one particular task for the rest of our productive lives. Our very souls have been extinguished, and with it we have lost the capacity to experience the deepest joys, loves, excitements, and creation. They have robbed us of our beauty. We have forgotten who and what we really are, and how amazing our very existence in this universe even is. If we succeed in annihilating ourselves now, it will be of little consequence; the majority of us are already dead.
The Solution in Principle
In the course of human history, there have been few men upon which all progress for the human spirit has rested, who stood exemplified above the masses in their ability to live and influence. These brave few were fortunate and enduring enough to escape the intellectually dampening effects of the rampant socialism of their respective cultures. Through their brave personal inquiry and communication of their original ideas, new intellectual seeds of enlightenment have slowly been planted and spread in growing numbers of men and women as time has passed on. Just as the enormously contagious and domineering collective cultural egos have spread throughout the world in the form of political and religious institutions, so too has there been a gradual spread of spiritually and intellectually liberated individuals.
The liberated individual must make a conscious effort to not fall victim to the destructive customs of the world and adopt a “go with the flow” mentality in regard to his own life. His actions must fall in accordance with his desired end. If our goal is to achieve a free world of morally acting individuals who do not require masters watching over them to dictate their actions, then we must ourselves become the very people we think the world should be composed of. If we wish to live in a world which experiences the greatest profundity of love and joy, then we can no longer fear being the first ones to embody and express these qualities to those who will allow it. Every word we speak or embrace we make with another is an opportunity to open the hearts and minds of those around us and act as catalysts for them to gradually awaken from their hypnotic slumbers. My greatest rewards in life have come from seeing this process in action as a direct result of my own influence.
The shift from unethical action as the rule can only occur when there becomes greater personal incentive for every individual to treat every other individual ethically. Incentive for ethical action can only come from being witness to the benefits of ethical action itself, and so the few who are aware of this fact have been given the daunting duty of becoming unsolicited role models for their fellow men. It is on their shoulders to willingly forfeit their abilities to lie, cheat, steal, abuse, attack, or maliciously manipulate their neighbors for personal gain, no matter how socially acceptable these sinful acts have become. So too must they resist the even greater temptation to engage in any and all political affairs, for however seemingly benign or benevolent they may appear, they function only to limit the choices of man and diminish his natural splendor of freewill through the enforcement of the will of others upon him.
True progress in this endeavor can only ever be made on an intellectual and emotional level; our own minds are the last vestiges of uninterrupted choice that we still cling to. Collective cultural egos of the world continue to exist with the direct mental and physical support of the people who compose them. It is from the agreement of these well-intentioned but ignorant men and women that the prejudices at war in the world derive their power and can continue to function. They who have freed themselves and successfully adopted right mindsets and lifestyles must now take on higher roles as the injectors of new ideas into the collective mind. The books we read, the movies we see, the television we watch, the conversations we hold, the songs we sing, and the fables we believe all play vital roles in expanding and shaping our world through the reshaping of mindsets.
We live in the most influential time in human history. It is likely that the paradigms held and choices made during our generation and the next may very well determine the long-term outcome of our species, that is, if we will work expediently enough to overcome our collective insanity and live in worldwide technologically blessed peace and prosperity or if the increasingly unstable collective egos will reach their critical masses and take us all down with the ship. Our solution is a return to the naturally evolved drive found in every man to seek what is pleasurable and avoid what is unpleasurable. When men and women can begin again to trust themselves to make full use of their innate discriminatory capacity to form bonds and contracts with others who willingly seek the same pleasures they do, we will know our work is done. 
By applying our productive efforts toward introducing ideals of the celebration of individuality and self-reliance into global cultural, we can have a very major impact on the world and subtly help others to wake up and remember what it is like to really live their lives and embrace their identities. Knowing this, it is quite easy to look upon many of the major works publicly produced today and understand what impact the authors were attempting to have upon the cultural mindset. The most successful have been sly and cunning enough to hide their message behind flash and awe in order to avoid ideological confrontation, and so too should we if we hope to have any impact on the sleeping masses. In writing this short manifesto, I hope that I have achieved some small positive influence in the minds of its readers. 
The way each and every one of us chooses to spend our time and productive energies will be the determining factor for the fate of humanity; the influence we have on our neighbors that we so eagerly take for granted is our most powerful weapon in the fight for our right to exist uninhibited. 


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livefreeretiree's picture
Columns on STR: 13


Paul's picture

"It is likely that the paradigms held and choices made during our generation and the next may very well determine the long-term outcome of our species, that is, if we will work expediently enough to overcome our collective insanity and live in worldwide technologically blessed peace and prosperity or if the increasingly unstable collective egos will reach their critical masses and take us all down with the ship."

Neither prospect thrills me. Yeah, that's right, I don't want to live in an unending Nirvana; how boring would that be? Fortunately humans are not capable of it. Our most likely future is a mixture of strife and prosperity, wisdom and insanity, washing in waves back and forth across the human race, forever. That is our nature. And for some strange reason, that prospect satisfies me.

"The most successful have been sly and cunning enough to hide their message behind flash and awe in order to avoid ideological confrontation, and so too should we if we hope to have any impact on the sleeping masses."

Vahram, I usually like what you write (I even like 98% of this article - it's very impressive), but I have to reject this point completely.

To be brutally honest, you seem to suffer from a malady common among the (more obviously) intelligent: a tendency to look down on others. Trust me, phoniness can be detected even by "ordinary folks". And so can condescension, even more easily.

You will be a lot happier when you look your own shortcomings in the face, and accept them; and when you stop looking down on others. When you do this, you will stop seeing value in acting dishonestly with them. Most people have some value, some talent or another. Everyone has a lot of unrealized potential. Jump in and join the human race, friend, the water's fine! :-)

livefreeretiree's picture

I did not mean condescension when I said to be sly and cunning. I meant choosing words and imagery carefully that would not upset people who have been programmed to be opposed to certain semantics and ideas. This is why people write fiction and use figurative language, to get a message out without just directly stating it. Written differently, I could have just said be creative and imaginative in your approach, not always literal and direct.

The part about joining the human race is confusing to me and appears, ironically, condescending. Though I guess I appreciate the free life coaching.