Saturday, 12 September 2009

Three Pillars of Human Evolution

Today I declared to a friend " Greed and apathy are the two dominating influences that govern social evolution". Here I am restricting myself to the western or the closely imitating urban upper Indian class that is self-centered, financially focused, accumulation greedy, and apathetically lethargic to interests that do not promote their personal goals. After some thought, I decided to add a third criteria that governs widespread individual choices, and that is Fear. So, the three solid pillars on which our current class evolution rests are Fear, Greed, and Apathy - probably in that order of importance. Now, allow me to elaborate.

Our instinct for survival has translated into an understandable fear - a fear to safeguard life. However the scope of this primal response has widely broadened beyond expected boundaries to include not just life, but also to preserve a quality of life, lifestyle, exploitative class privileges, a position in the socio-economic pyramid, which with the global parameters and uncertain market trends seems to require a constant climbing, striving, working upwards, to maintain position on a slippery downward slope. So, to some extent, this insecurity we carry as a class merges into smudged boundaries of financial/capital worth that we aspire towards which are sufficient not only to preserve life, but to promote security, improve quality of life. Unsurprisingly, this insecurity towards wealth anti-correlates, strongly, with the amount of wealth one is sitting on i.e. the wealthy are more greedy for immoderate wealth than the needy.

This automatically leads me to the next criteria dictating my class' evolution - Greed. The cliched, but still a profound Gandhian observation " Earth has enough for everyone's need, but not everyone's greed" still rings true with succinct clarity, but truth and clarity are not pursuits easily accommodated in today's world. Probably, it is the speed with which we live, that doesn't grant us that vital pause to ask, is this right, true and clear? Or, maybe we know that our daily pursuits are so meaningless that we dare not pause to acknowledge them so.

And, what do we run after, or, what do we seek? Even a most obsessive money monger would refuse to acknowledge greed - it is considered in ill taste to say, "I only want money" ,or "it is the only pursuit worth pursuing" - or wait, I should not be too hasty -what do we pursue money for - and is that our only form of greed? Maybe a deeper reason behind this outward pursuit of greed, is an inner vaccum of happiness, joy, a life well led. Combined with the crazy consumerist notion that one can buy happiness, everyone pursues the currency God that can directly be cashed in for happiness - of a fancy home, a designer dress, a luxury holiday, a spa package! And, it is not enough just to experience these happiness products that money buys, since - beyond a certain amount needed to promote health, security - happiness is really a state of mind, not a bought item. Further, one has to advertise what a lot of happiness one has been able to buy with what a lot of money. Thus, a crazy race for buying happiness dictates this generations obsessive addiction to wealth accumulation or Greed.

Finally, Apathy, the one curse of our identity identification, individual development, a defining of personal wants/goals isolated from a broader scope of overall social well being. An apathy for the 'other' outside of yourself to not count, not be taken into consideration; an apathy, driven by a need to be comfortable in non action, driven by a feeling that the less one does, the happier one is, allocating task of personal management and personal well fare to the needier lot, on lesser pay and more work, than would accept oneself. Why are we so apathetic? Why is there so much lethargy that we close our eyes to misery, shut our ears to pain, are asleep to what is done around us, behind our backs, openly, brazenly in front of us - we watch it in comfortable stupor on television channels, extreme cruelty played out in extreme crudity, in front of our eyes, till we yawn, stretch, and declare, "its time for bed!"

All this that I think, and all this that I say, I say recognizing me in my society, and that society in me - a wretchedness of identification with a class that I belong to, or was once long ago, in my near past, a part of - a sleeping class, that still sleeps, but I am slowly, deliberately starting to wake up!

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