Freedom Expanded: Book 1—The Human Condition Explained
Part 3:7 The depth of our anger
To summarise Part 3 thus far, we can, through using the Adam Stork analogy, understand that neither Adam Stork (as a representative of humanity) nor any of his descendants could have hoped to relieve themselves of the injustice of their condemned condition until such time as sufficient knowledge was found to explain why the upset angry, egocentric and alienated state emerged. Descriptions of Adam Stork’s upset, embattled condition were not enough, the upset state had to be explained. The story of the Garden of Eden described perfectly how Adam and Eve went in search of knowledge, took the ‘fruit’ ‘from the tree of…knowledge’, but at the end of that story they were ‘banished…from the Garden’ as evil beings. Until the difference between the gene and nerve-based learning systems was understood there was no ability to clarify the situation and explain why ‘Adam and Eve’, why humans, were good and not bad; to explain why they did not deserve to be banished, exiled to a state of upset.
The next image features another famous cartoon by Michael Leunig, in my view his greatest, so it is with deep reverence to Leunig that I have taken the liberty of drawing three more frames in his marvellously expressive style to complete the story. Leunig’s cartoon depicts the Genesis story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, beginning with Adam and Eve taking the ‘fruit’ (Gen. 3:3) ‘from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil’ (2:9, 17) and being ‘banished…from the Garden of Eden’ (3:23) as a result. Up to that point there is nothing unusual about the story being portrayed, however, the cartoon goes on to show Adam reaping revenge upon that hallowed Garden. Possibly Leunig meant for the retaliation to be interpreted as a straightforward joke about human behaviour—‘You kicked me out, I’ll get even’—but surely there is a deeper truth to the retaliation that accounts for the cartoon resonating with so many people. Hasn’t Leunig got to the truth that lies at the very heart of the issue of our human condition, and summarised that truth in the most succinct way possible using the story of the Garden of Eden? Hasn’t he captured the underlying feeling that we humans have of being condemned as fundamentally evil and God-disobeying when in our heart of hearts we don’t believe we are; and hasn’t he captured the psychotic anger that feeling of unjust condemnation has caused us?
As we can now understand, humans have been unjustly condemned since our conscious mind became fully developed and we became a self-managing species some two million years ago—so how deeply, deeply angry must we be inside ourselves having had to live undefended on this planet against so much unjust condemnation for so long! I ask you, wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, we be as angry as Leunig has depicted us in this cartoon?
To analyse the cartoon’s elements more closely, in the fourth frame of this cartoon we see Adam fuming with rage for being evicted, implying that he doesn’t believe it is deserved, and deciding that he has no choice but to retaliate against the injustice; he can’t be expected to just sit there and take it, he has to find some way of demonstrating that he doesn’t accept as true the criticism that he is fundamentally bad. And so a vengeful Adam returns with a chainsaw to raze the Garden. The guardian angel is in tears at the wanton destruction, and we can see that Eve is similarly distressed by his actions. (This lack of empathy by women for men’s battle to defy the ignorance of our instinctive self, which Leunig has so honestly expressed here, will be explained in Part 7:1.) But Adam’s expression and body language shows the immense relief and satisfaction his retaliation brings him. In giving the guardian angel ‘the bird’, he’s symbolically saying, ‘Stick that up your jumper for unjustly condemning me!’
BUT, above all, in the expression of extreme anger on Adam’s face, Leunig has revealed just what two million years of being unjustly condemned by the whole world has done to us humans. And since the sun, the rain, the trees and the innocent animals are all friends of our original instinctive self, through that association they too have condemned us. While, as will be explained at length later in Part 3:11D, we have learnt to conceal how upset we are—learnt ‘civility’—underneath that facade of restraint lies the level of anger Leunig has portrayed.
It really has been a case of ‘Give me liberty or give me death’, ‘No retreat, no surrender’, ‘Death before dishonour’, ‘Death or glory’, ‘Do or die’, ‘Die on your feet, don’t live on your knees’, ‘Never give in’, ‘I’d rather reign in hell than serve in heaven’, ‘You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down’, as the old sayings go. We could never accept that we were fundamentally bad, evil beings, for if we did we wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning and face the world. If we truly believed we were fundamentally evil beings, we would shoot ourselves. There had to be a greater truth that explained us and we couldn’t rest until we found it. And so every day as we got out of bed we took on the world of ignorance that was condemning us. We defied the implication that we are bad, we shook our fist at the heavens; in essence, we said, ‘One day, one day, we are going to prove ourselves, explain that we are not bad after all, and until that day arrives we are not going to ‘back down’, we are not going to take the criticism, we are going to fight back with all our might.’ And that is what we did, and because we did we have now finally broken through and found the full truth that explains that we humans are wonderful, even divine beings, after all.
When the American clergyman and civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr spoke so eloquently of his ‘dream’ of being able to say we are ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’ (‘I Have A Dream’ speech, 28 Aug. 1963), he was in truth dreaming about the arrival of the all-liberating, all-emancipating and all-reconciling understanding of the human condition that has now finally arrived.
Yes, the essential truth that has now at last been explained is that we should never have been ‘thrown out of the Garden of Eden’ in the first place—which is why I have taken the liberty of attempting to draw three additional frames to complete the story. The first frame that I have added depicts Adam and Eve beckoning to the guardian angel to return, while the second shows them explaining to the angel the biological reason why we humans aren’t fundamentally evil—in fact, explaining that we are the absolute heroes of the story of life on Earth—a truth that so affects the angel that it starts to cry out of regret and sympathy. The third and final frame shows the angel taking Adam and Eve, the human race in effect, by the hand and apologetically escorting us back to the Garden of Eden.
This cartoon encapsulates the whole human story now—starting as it does with the human race emerging in an unconscious, unaware, unknowing, ‘knowledge-less’, ignorant, upset-free, pre-human-condition-afflicted, innocent instinctive state. We then, however, developed a fully conscious thinking, self-adjusting mind and became an extremely psychologically upset, angry, retaliatory, defensive, egocentric, human-condition-afflicted species, before finally finding the redeeming and ameliorating understanding of why our ‘good-and-evil’-afflicted state emerged, which in turn allows us to return to an upset-free, psychologically-untroubled, settled, relieved, peaceful, harmonious existence.
In finding the liberating understanding of the human condition, humanity has come full circle. Our round of departure has ended. The Nobel Prize-winning American-born, British poet T.S. Eliot wonderfully articulated our species’ horrifically agonising but awesomely heroic journey from an original innocent, yet ignorant, state to a psychologically upset state, and back to an uncorrupted, but this time enlightened, state when he wrote, ‘We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’ (Little Gidding, 1942).
I should explain that in the frames attached to Leunig’s cartoon, I included a giraffe, a rhinoceros and a buffalo (although I mistakenly gave the buffalo Asian buffalo horns rather than African buffalo horns) to reflect Africa’s heritage as our original Garden of Eden. Africa is our instinctive self or soul’s home, it is where our species grew up, so the animals of that cradle of humanity represent our soul’s original friends before we turned on them and their world with such a vengeance because their innocence, and that of their world, exposed, confronted and unjustly condemned us for our own loss of innocence. In the 1998 documentary Scrapbooks From Africa and Beyond about the exotic life of American photographer and author Peter Beard, Beard made this comment when talking about Africa that recognises how condemning it has been for us humans: ‘Nature has hundreds of millions of years of messages for us—we came from that base but we want to deny it and pour cement over it.’ As evidence of the devastation upset humans have inflicted on the natural world (which Leunig illustrated so powerfully by having Adam take to the hallowed garden with a chainsaw!), in his 1963 book, the appropriately titled The End of the Game, which contains a collage of amazing photographs of natural Africa, Beard records how a white African hunter, ironically named J.A. Hunter, dispatched ‘996 Rhinos’ from ‘August 29th 1944 to October 31st 1946’ (p.137 of 280). That is the equivalent of nearly ten rhinoceroses every week for more than two years that he shot to death! In truth, hunting animals was the first expression of our anger and resentment for being unjustly condemned by our original instinctive self and its friends. As mentioned, since our original instinctive self developed alongside nature, by association nature has also criticised us. Further, since the innocence of animals contrasted with our own lack of innocence, to attack that innocence was a means of getting even with it for its implied condemnation of the upset state. As will be explained again in Part 7:1, research shows that 80 percent of the food of existing hunter-foragers, such as the Bushmen of the Kalahari, is supplied by the women’s foraging (Kalahari Hunter-Gatherers, eds. Richard B. Lee & Irven DeVore, 1976, p.115 of 408). So what were men doing hunting all day? We can now understand that what they were doing was getting even with innocence for its unjust condemnation of their upset state.
With the explanation and defence for our corrupted self now found our former friends the animals and their world should, in effect, apologise to us humans for criticising us so unjustly for so long and welcome us back into the fold, as my third frame depicts. We can see that only understanding of the human condition was ever going to allow the real repair of not only ourselves but planet Earth; only dignifying understanding could quell our species’ immensely upset and destructive nature. Incidentally, isn’t that the most amazing statement? We killed ‘996 Rhinos’ but they should apologise to US humans! Amazing as it is, this statement is true, as this presentation will continue to confirm.
To elaborate, this need and capacity to murder animals, and eventually one another, reveals the very deep psychosis that lies within us humans. As Leunig’s cartoon predicted with his drawing of the wasteland (above) that results from Adam’s retaliation, unless we found the dignifying understanding of ourselves our anger was such that we were going to destroy this planet. Hugging trees, cuddling animals, reducing our ‘carbon footprint’, and all the other supposed noble causes that people take up today, were never going to ‘Save the World’, as placards for the Green Movement proclaim—no, only understanding of the human condition could save the situation, avoid the destruction of our world, but paradoxically that search for liberating understanding depended on continuing the corrupting search for knowledge, not on ‘flying back on course’ and taking up feel-good causes. It is the finding of the understanding of the fundamental goodness of humans that ends the unjust criticism that has so upset us and which now allows our anger, egocentricity and alienation to subside. It is explanation that is key: understanding is the basis for compassion.
As I have already emphasised, there has been much talk of the need to love each other and to love the environment, but the real need and cause on Earth has been to find the means to love the dark side of ourselves, to bring understanding to that aspect of our make-up. And again, as the Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung frequently emphasised, ‘wholeness for humans depended on the ability to own their own shadow’—or as the pre-eminent philosopher from South Africa Sir Laurens van der Post said, ‘True love is love of the difficult and unlovable’ (Journey Into Russia, 1964, p.145 of 319) and ‘Only by understanding how we were all a part of the same contemporary pattern [of wars, cruelty, greed and indifference] could we defeat those dark forces with a true understanding of their nature and origin’ (Jung and the Story of Our Time, 1976, p.24 of 275).
True compassion was ultimately the only means by which peace and love could come to our planet and it could only be achieved through finding the fully accountable, psychosis-ending understanding of our human condition. Drawing again from the writings of Sir Laurens: ‘Compassion leaves an indelible blueprint of the recognition that life so sorely needs between one individual and another; one nation and another; one culture and another. It is also valid for the road which our spirit should be building now for crossing the historical abyss that still separates us from a truly contemporary vision of life, and the increase of life and meaning that awaits us in the future’ (ibid. p.29). Yes, only ‘true understanding of the nature and origin’ of our species’ ‘good-and-evil’-afflicted, even ‘fallen’ or corrupted condition could allow us to cross ‘the historical abyss’ that ‘separate[d] us’ from a ‘compassion[ate]’, reconciled, ameliorated, ‘meaning[ful]’ view of ourselves. This ‘future’ that Sir Laurens anticipated, of finding understanding of our human condition, has now finally arrived. One day there had to be, to quote The Rolling Stones’ lyrics from 1968, ‘Sympathy for the devil’; one day, which is today, we had to find compassionate understanding of the dark side of human nature!
So, we can now see that our divisive human nature was not an unchangeable or immutable state as many people came to believe, and which E.O. Wilson’s theory of Eusociality deems it to be, rather it was the result of the human condition, the inability to understand ourselves, and therefore it will dissipate now that we have found that understanding. Importantly, this understanding of why we became upset as a species doesn’t condone or sanction ‘evil’, rather, through bringing understanding to humans’ upset behaviour, it ameliorates and thus subsides and ultimately eliminates it. ‘Evil’—humans’ divisive behaviour—was a result of a conflict and insecurity within us that arose from the dilemma of the human condition: resolve the dilemma and you end the conflict and insecurity. As emphasised, peace could only come to our troubled, divisive state and world through removing the underlying insecurity of our condition. With our ego or sense of self worth satisfied at the most fundamental level our anger can now subside and all our denials and resulting alienation can be dismantled. From having lived in a dark, cave-like, depressed state of condemnation and, as a result, had to repress, hide and deny our true selves, we can at last, as the 1960s rock musical Hair sang, ‘Let the sunshine in’—end our horrid existence of having to depend on denial to cope. The compassionate-understanding-based psychological rehabilitation of the human race—the TRANSFORMATION of all humans—can begin.
As will be explained shortly in Part 3:10, the ‘Brief description of the TRANSFORMATION of the human race’, while it will take a number of generations for the complete psychological rehabilitation of the human race to be achieved, all humans can immediately be effectively free of the human condition by leaving their old upset way of living behind as compassionately understood and therefore obsolete and, in its place, taking up support of the humanity-liberating understanding of the human condition, which is the TRANSFORMED LIFEFORCE WAY OF LIVING.
So, in a nutshell, the treatise that I will go on to flesh out in the upcoming Parts of this presentation is that the nerve-based learning system is a different form of information processing system to the gene-based learning system, and within that differentiation lies the explanation of the human condition—why we humans are good and not bad after all. So you could win your football match on the weekend, or you could build the biggest money pile ever seen, or you could follow the example of Mother Teresa and try to save those who are suffering—any one of which would bring you some relief from the insecurity of your condition—but you were never going to end the horror of the human condition until you could explain it, which thank goodness we now at last can.
Again, as was mentioned in Part 2:5, the Australian journalist Richard Neville summarised our species’ plight perfectly when he said, ‘The world is hurtling to catastrophe: from nuclear horrors, a wrecked ecosystem, 20 million dead each year from malnutrition, 600 million chronically hungry…All these crises are man made, their causes are psychological. The cures must come from this same source; which means the planet needs psychological maturity…fast. We are locked in a race between self destruction and self discovery’ (Good Weekend mag. Sydney Morning Herald, 14 Oct. 1986). Either we found the greater dignifying understanding of ourselves or it was game over. And, as we will see later, the race went right down to the wire, right to the end game point of self-destruction in terms of terminal levels of alienation destroying the human species and the planet. Recall the photo of the housing estates in California (that were included in Part 2:5), estates that in truth are not much more than sterile slums in terms of their destructive, alienation-inducing soul-lessness. Ken Miall (an adolescent in the audience today) loves his pet animals—he has ferrets and pet sheep and horses, a veritable menagerie of animals at his home in rural New South Wales—and these are all his soul’s friends, which in truth we all need. The reason we need to preserve nature is not because we might, for instance, find useful drugs in some of the rare plants, as human-condition-avoiding environmentalists have been reduced to arguing, but because the natural world is our instinctive self or soul’s home and without it our soul is bereft, left tortured. Ken’s pets keep him alive in a world of adults that has gone mad; a world that, to his instinctive self or soul, is so wrong.
This issue of how deeply disturbing and wrong the upset world of adults is to young adolescents raises the whole issue of ‘Resignation’.