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‘FREEDOM’—Chapter 3 The Real Explanation of The Human Condition
Chapter 3:5 The double and triple whammy involved in our human situation
When Adam Stork began searching for knowledge and unavoidably became angry, egocentric and alienated, that upset response didn’t attract further criticism from his instinctive orientation—but that certainly wasn’t the case with us humans. No, when we began searching for knowledge and became angry, egocentric and alienated, that response was extremely offensive to our particular instinctive orientation because our instinctive orientation isn’t to a flight path, or to any of the various instinctive orientations that other animals are obedient to; it is to behaving in the opposite way, namely lovingly, selflessly and honestly. So in our case, when we began experimenting in understanding and were criticised by our instincts and unavoidably responded in an angry, egocentric and alienated way, we had to endure a further round of criticism, a second hit, a ‘double whammy’, from our instinctive orientation. Yes, in our necessary search for understanding we were firstly unjustly condemned for defying our instincts, and then again for reacting to that condemnation in a way that was counter and offensive to our instincts. So if Adam Stork had cause to be upset, we had double cause to be upset!
And yet the horror of our situation didn’t end there—for we weren’t just unjustly condemned twice, we were unjustly condemned three times; we were forced to endure a ‘triple whammy’, which I will now explain.
While the following explanation will be covered in greater detail in chapter 4, to context why we have experienced this ‘triple whammy’ of condemnation it is necessary to briefly explain that there is a teleological, order-of-matter-developing, integrative, cooperative theme or direction or purpose or meaning to existence, which God is the personification of. Everywhere we look we see hierarchies of ordered matter—‘There is a tree that is composed of parts (leaves, branches, a trunk and roots) and in turn those parts are composed of parts (fibres, cells, etc).’ Our world is clearly composed of a hierarchy of ordered matter: atoms have come together or integrated to form compounds, which in turn have come together or integrated to form virus-like organisms, which integrated to form single-celled organisms, which then integrated to form multicellular organisms, which have come together or integrated to form societies of multicellular organisms. Significantly, the behaviour required for these ordered arrangements of matter or wholes to stay together is selflessness—because selflessness means being considerate of the welfare of the larger whole or integrative, while selfishness is divisive or disintegrative. Selflessness is, in fact, the theme of existence, the glue that holds wholes together. But in light of our divisive selfish, egocentric, competitive and aggressive behaviour, humans have obviously found this truth of the selflessness-dependent, integrative meaning of existence unbearably condemning. And being so unbearably condemning, the main way we coped with this truth of Integrative Meaning was to deify it, make it God—a concept we revered but claimed had no material relationship to us. Again, all this will be explained in chapter 4, but, in terms of explaining the ‘triple whammy’ we suffered from when we searched for knowledge, what this selfless, cooperative, Godly, integrative theme of existence means is that when we started retaliating against the criticism from our instincts in a divisive, selfish, uncooperative, angry, aggressive, egocentric and alienated way, we were not only at odds with our cooperative, selfless, loving moral instincts, we were also defying God! Our retaliation against our instinctive self made us appear as though we were out of step with creation, living in a way that was entirely inconsistent with the integrative, cooperative, selfless theme or meaning of existence! The point here is that despite having removed the confronting presence of Integrative Meaning by abstracting it as God (and even by outright denial of the existence of Integrative Meaning or God), the development of order of matter in nature is actually such an obvious truth that our conscious mind is well aware of it. So, when we humans went in search of knowledge we were initially criticised for not obeying our instincts, and then secondly for responding to that initial criticism in a way that offended our cooperatively orientated, moral instinctive conscience, and, then thirdly, by that behaviour defying the very integrative, cooperative theme of existence that our intellect could so plainly see existed in nature. We defied our instincts, we offended our moral conscience, and we insulted the very meaning of existence/God!!! We humans could hardly be more guilt-ridden. And all this guilt, which we can now understand was completely unjustified, made us extremely, excruciatingly upset—absolutely furious, in fact. As necessary as it was, in our case, ‘flying off course’ was an incredibly upsetting act of defiance—which is why we humans have been capable of absolutely extraordinary acts of brutality, barbarism and cruelty. While we have tried to restrain and conceal the anger within us, ‘civilise’ it as we say, it is, in truth, volcanic—but, again, we can now at last understand the origin of all that anger.
To appreciate exactly what occurred when humans began to actively experiment in understanding we can consider what occurs in the lives of children today, and must have occurred in the lives of our distant, child-equivalent ancestors, who, as will be described in chapters 8:2 to 8:7, were the australopithecines who emerged from our infant-equivalent, bonobo-like ape ancestors some 4 million years ago.
In the case of young humans today, when they begin to actively experiment in managing their lives from a basis of understanding, which is what occurs during the stage of a conscious mind’s development that we call ‘childhood’, they encounter this upsetting criticism from their instinctive moral conscience and from their mind’s awareness of the integrative theme of existence—as well as from other minds around them. Imagine, for instance, a situation where a young boy sees a birthday cake on a table and, being new to this business of reasoning, thinks, innocently enough, ‘Why shouldn’t I take all the cake for myself’, before doing so. While many mothers actually witness these grand mistakes of pure selfishness that young children make when they first attempt to self-manage their lives, they still have to be reasonably lucky to do so because, once done, the child usually doesn’t make such a completely naive mistake again due to the criticism it attracts from its moral instincts, from its own conscious mind’s awareness of the very obvious integrative, cooperative, selfless theme of existence, and from others present. But despite the nasty shock from all the criticism and his subsequent determination to never again make such a mistake, the child, although he is unable to explain his actions, does feel that what he has done is not something bad, not something deserving of such criticism. In fact, by this stage in the child’s mental development, he has become quite proud of his efforts at self-managing his life, drawing attention to his achievements with excited declarations like ‘Look at me Daddy, I can jump puddles’, and so on. So the child is only just discovering that this business of self-adjusting is not all fun and that some experiments are getting him into trouble. It is at this stage that ‘playing’, as we call these early experiments in self-management, starts leading to some serious issues for the child. Indeed, the frustrated feeling of being unjustly criticised for some of the experiments gives rise to the precursors of the defensive, retaliatory reactions of anger, egocentricity and alienation, with some angry, aggressive nastiness creeping into the child’s behaviour. Furthermore, in this situation of feeling unfairly criticised, it follows that any positive feedback or reinforcement begins to become highly sought-after, which is the beginning of egocentricity—the conscious thinking self or ego starts to become preoccupied trying to defend its worth, assert that it is good and not bad. At this point, the intellect also begins experimenting in ways to deny the unwarranted criticism, which, in this initial, unskilled-in-the-art-of-denial stage, takes the form of blatant lying: ‘But Mum, Billy told me to do it’, or ‘But Mum, the cake accidentally fell in my lap.’ These apparent misrepresentations weren’t actually lies, rather they were inadequate attempts at explanation. Lacking the real excuse or explanation, it was at least an excuse, a contrived defence for the child’s mistake. The child was evading the false implication that his behaviour was bad, in the sense that a ‘lie’ that said he wasn’t bad was less of a ‘lie’ than a partial truth that said he was. Basically, the child has started to feel the first aggravations from the horror of the injustice of the human condition—and we can expect that exactly the same kind of mistakes in thinking and the resulting frustrations with the ensuing criticism would have also occurred in our australopithecine, child-equivalent ancestors. Some of them, those who had become intelligent enough to actively experiment in self-adjustment, would have begun to encounter criticism of their efforts to self-manage and, as such, begun to exhibit the psychologically upset behaviours of anger, egocentricity and alienation.
Once the experimentation in self-management gets underway, so the upsetting frustrations with the resulting criticism increases. The journey of ever-increasing levels of upset has begun—and this corrupting journey of escalating upset could not and would not stop until the exonerating explanation of the human condition was found, which has only now, in this book, finally emerged millions of years after this self-fuelling process began, which means there must be, and indeed is, an absolutely astronomical amount of upset built up in us humans! That horrific journey of ever-increasing levels of upset is described in chapter 8, but just to follow its development a little further—throughout childhood the experimenting in understanding increases and the resulting frustrated upset also increases, such that by late childhood children enter what is recognised as the ‘naughty nines’. By this stage the resentment and frustration with the criticism from their efforts at self-adjustment has become so great that the child starts lashing out at the unjust world. Indeed, by late childhood children become very angry, even taunting and bullying those around them. However, by the end of childhood, children realise that lashing out in exasperation at the ‘injustice of the world’ doesn’t change anything and that the only possible way to solve their frustration is to find the reconciling insight into why the criticism they are experiencing is not deserved. It is at this point, which occurs around 12 years of age, that the child undergoes a dramatic change from a frustrated, protesting, demonstrative, loud extrovert into a sobered, deeply thoughtful, quiet introvert, consumed with anxiety about the imperfections of life under the duress of the human condition. In fact, it is in recognition of this very significant psychological change from a relatively human-condition-free state to a very human-condition-aware state that we separate these stages into ‘Childhood’ and ‘Adolescence’, a shift even our schooling system marks by having children graduate from what is generally called primary school into secondary school. And indeed, this critical junction in our species’ development is also acknowledged in the anthropological record, with the name of the genus changing from Australopithecus, the extrovert ‘Childman’, to Homo, the sobered ‘Adolescentman’. The story of the journey through this next stage of adolescence was briefly introduced in chapter 2:2 when Resignation was described, but to quickly recap: after struggling for a few years during their early adolescence to make sense of existence, by about 14 or 15 years of age that search for understanding generally became so confronting that denial of the whole unbearably depressing issue of the human condition had to be adopted—after which adolescents became superficial and artificial escapists, not wanting to look at any issue too deeply, and, before long, combative and competitive power-fame-fortune-and-glory, relief-seeking resigned adults.
So while the upset state of the human condition emerged during our childhood, and in the case of our species’ journey, during the life of our child-equivalent australopithecine ancestor, the real struggle with the agony of the human condition didn’t arise until our adolescence, which began when we were around 12 years of age, or, in the case of our species, during the life of Homo who emerged from the australopithecines some 2 million years ago. Indeed, we could say that we only became fully conscious in the sense of being fully aware of the situation we humans have been in of having to live with the agony of the human condition some 2 million years ago when our species entered adolescence. Again, all the stages of ever-increasing levels of upset that humans both individually and as a species have progressed through will be much more fully described in chapter 8.
In summary, unlike Adam Stork who only had to contend with criticism of his attempts to self-adjust, humans have had to contend with that criticism and criticism of our unavoidable angry, aggressive, competitive, selfish and dishonestly evasive response to that initial criticism—a response that went against our moral conscience and against the integrative meaning of existence; against the Godly ideals, no less. In short, through our efforts to self-adjust and experiment in self-understanding, in order to find the ultimate knowledge of understanding of the human condition that we needed to make sense of ourselves, we were made to feel extremely guilty, ‘evil’ and ‘sinful’, which very greatly compounded our insecurity-of-self and frustration, making us immensely angry and egocentric and very much needing to live in denial of any confrontation with the problem of our corrupted condition. We had to live totally separated, or blocked-off, or dissociated, or alienated from our true situation—metaphorically ‘enshrined in that living tomb’ of Plato’s dark ‘cave’ where no exposure of our corrupted condition was possible.
Yes, humans have been immensely insecure about our upset, corrupted, fallen condition—extremely fearful of the suicidally depressing implication that we are bad, vile creatures for having departed so incredibly far from our species’ original unconditionally selfless, all-loving-and-all-sensitive, fully-cooperative-and-integrative, Godly, ‘ideal’ way of living. But while total block-out/separation/dissociation/alienation from the truth of our species’ original all-loving world meant we had chosen a ‘living tomb’ of dishonest darkness to live in, that existence was infinitely preferable to trying to confront the suicidally depressing truth of how far we had departed from our original world of all-loving innocence! Such has been the horror of the human condition. Thank goodness we can at last explain why we couldn’t avoid becoming angry, egocentric and alienated and as a result no longer have to hide in that ‘living tomb’ dungeon of dishonest darkness anymore!
If we immerse ourselves in the truth of how pure we humans once were—as Plato and Hesiod did when they admitted ‘there was a time when’ we lived a ‘blessed’, ‘innocent and simple and calm and happy’ ‘pure’ existence where there was no ‘war or quarrel[ling]’, and ‘no forms of government or separate possession of women and children’ and where we ‘dwelt naked…in the open air…and…lay on soft couches of grass’; a time when we were a ‘golden race…with calm untroubled mind[s]…unbridled by toil…[and] all willing shared the gathering of…[our] hands’—and then contrast that existence with our present immensely upset competitive, selfish, greedy, uncaring, mean, aggressive and materialistic existence, the distinction is most certainly a suicidally depressing one to have to face, unless you are exceptionally free of upset, as Plato and Hesiod must have been, or you can explain the good reason why that extremely upset state emerged, explain why we destroyed paradise, explain why we seemingly went mad and turned utopia into dystopia! Appreciating this horrific predicament allows us to now fully understand what Gerard Manley Hopkins meant when he wrote in his 1885 poem No Worst, There Is None, ‘O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall, frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap may [any] who ne’er [have never] hung there.’ Yes, only innocent people, those free of upset, have been able to confront the issue of the human condition without becoming depressed—‘hung’ being the perfect description for the depressed state. For innocents it was not costly; rather, as Hopkins said, it was ‘cheap’ for them. But now that the upset state of the human condition has been explained and defended the whole human race is freed from ‘frightful[ly]’ depressing condemnation!
And to think we have been living in this extremely unfair and torn state where we couldn’t explain the good reason for our species’ upset, corrupted, ‘fallen’, innocence-destroyed condition for over 2 million years! With this in mind, we can start to register just how much hurt, frustration and anger must now exist within us humans. After all, imagine living just one day with the injustice of being condemned as evil, bad and worthless when you intuitively knew—but were unable to explain—that you were actually the complete opposite, namely truly wonderful, good and meaningful. How tormented and furious—how upset—would you be by the end of that one day? You would be immensely upset. So extrapolate that experience over 2 million years and you will begin to get some appreciation of just how much volcanic anger must now exist within us humans today! While we have learnt to significantly restrain and conceal—‘civilise’—our phenomenal amount of upset, it nevertheless follows that, under the surface, our species must be boiling with rage, and that sometimes, when our restraint can no longer find a way to contain it, that anger must express itself. Yes, we can finally understand humans’ capacity for astounding acts of aggression, hate, brutality and atrocity. The following is but one description of how much anger humans have accumulated as a result of being unjustly condemned; it is an account of the bloodshed that was commonplace during World War I: ‘The flowing blood of these murdered men, ten million gallons of steaming human blood could substitute for a whole day the gigantic water masses of the Niagara [Falls]…Make a chain of these ten million murdered murderers, placing them head to head and foot to foot, and you will have an uninterrupted line measuring ten thousand miles, a grave ten thousand miles long’ (Mrs Will Gordon, Roumania Yesterday and To-day, 1918, p.251 of 270). And it can now be understood that this capacity for inhumanity exists in us all—as the author Morris West so bravely acknowledged in his memoir, A View from the Ridge: ‘brutalise a child and you create a casualty or a criminal. Bribe a servant of the state and you will soon hear the deathwatch beetles chewing away at the rooftrees of society. The disease of evil [now able to be understood as upset] is pandemic; it spares no individual, no society, because all are predisposed to it. It is this predisposition which is the root of the mystery [of ‘evil’ that is now explained]. I cannot blame a Satan, a Lucifer, a Mephistopheles, for the evils I have committed, the consequences of which have infected other people’s lives. I know, as certainly as I know anything, that the roots are in myself, buried deeper than I care to delve, in caverns so dark that I fear to explore them. I know that, given the circumstances and the provocation, I could commit any crime in the calendar’ (1996, p.78 of 143).
It certainly is an understatement of the grandest proportions to say that it is a relief that humanity’s 2-million-year journey of conscious thought and enquiry into the nature of our condition has finally delivered understanding of it—that the ‘caverns so dark’ where the ‘mystery’ of our horrifically upset human condition lies have at last been ‘explore[d]’ and the greater dignifying, redeeming, liberating, healing, ameliorating explanation for that condition found.