The Horror and Heroism of a Man's Life
The life we have led as men has been a torment of contradiction and misunderstanding.
On the one hand has been our ability to love, to be sensitive and compassionate and to live out acts of incredible strength, courage and valor, and on the other has been our capacity to be incredibly egocentric, selfish and angry and in the extreme violent and brutal towards one another.
These contradictions are the very essence of what it means to be a man. And we live out these attributes of ‘good and evil’ without defendable explanation or understanding of why we are like this and what has been driving all of these behaviors.
For all of our incredible achievements in science, space, exploration, architecture and on sporting fields the impact of our behaviour is stark. We live in a world drowning in hatred, religious fundamentalism and wars that has become a rotting corpse of inequality and injustice, violence and suffering, exploitation and corruption, where hunger, greed, poverty, obesity, illness, desperation, fear, anxiety and psychological despair are epidemic.
It has been through the disciplines of science, religion, philosophy and psychiatry that we have to tried to understand and explain the world that we live in, yet as Australian journalist Richard Neville, sagaciously wrote; ‘the world is hurtling to catastrophe: from nuclear horrors, a wrecked eco-system, 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, The Sydney Morning Herald, 14 Oct. 1986; see <>).
We are indeed in desperate need of ‘psychological maturity’ and real answers and solutions, answers that have arrived in the nick of time through the profound work of biologist, philosopher and author Jeremy Griffith who has spent 40 years studying, unravelling and explaining the dilemma of the human condition. Jeremy’s summa work FREEDOM is disarmingly simple, yet profound in its explanations of a historically impenetrable subject matter. Through first principle biology, what is presented is a fully defendable and compassionate understanding of the world we live in and of why we are the way we are, including all of the seemingly inexplicable contradictions and misunderstandings of the life of a man.
Through first principle biology, what is presented is a fully defendable and compassionate understanding of the world we live in and of why we are the way we are, including all of the seemingly inexplicable contradictions and misunderstandings of the life of a man.
Jeremy’s synthesis reasons that the crux problem on Earth is the dilemma of the human condition. He explains, ‘if the universally accepted ideals of life are to be cooperative, loving and selfless—ideals that have been accepted by modern civilisations as the foundations for constitutions and laws and by the founders of all the great religions as the basis of their teachings—why are humans competitive, aggressive and selfish? Indeed, so ruthlessly competitive, selfish and brutal that life has become all but unbearable and we have nearly destroyed our own planet? Does our inconsistency with the ideals mean we are essentially bad, a flawed species, an evolutionary mistake, a blight on Earth, a cancer in the universe—or could we possibly be divine beings? And, more to the point, is the human race faced with having to live forever in this tormented state of uncertainty and insecurity about the fundamental worth and meaning of our lives? Is it our species’ destiny to have to live in a state of permanent damnation?!
The agony of being unable to truthfully answer the fundamental question of why we are the way we are—divisively instead of cooperatively behaved—has been the particular burden of human life. It has been our species’ particular affliction or condition— our ‘human condition’
He describes how it was at the dawn of our species individual consciousness some two million years ago that this upset state of the human condition appeared. When humans became conscious a ‘battle’ emerged between our original instinctive self (our conscience or soul), and our emerging intellect or conscious thinking self which needed to understand the world, in essence, to set out in search of knowledge and ultimately to find self-knowledge. He explains how our conscious thinking self, being unable to explain why it needed to set out in ‘search of knowledge’ was in effect criticized by our instinctive self and in response our upset state emerged where we became angry at the criticism, egocentric, developing the need to prove our worth in the face of this criticism and alienated from our original instinctive soulful selves.
And this upset state has escalated over the last two million years to the point where we have arrived today.
In his comprehensive treatise Griffith describes how in this journey to find understanding of why we are the way we are, a role differentiation occurred between men and women; ‘So, in keeping with their already established roles as the group protectors, it was men who took up the loathsomely upsetting job of championing the ego over the ignorance of our original instinctive self, leaving women to their loving, nurturing role. The problem this role differentiation gave rise to, however, was that in not being responsible for or participating in the terrible battle to overthrow ignorance women were naive or unaware of the ramifications of fighting the battle, and, as a result, were unsympathetic towards both the battle and the frustrated anger and egocentricity it produced in men—a situation that placed men in the awful predicament of being misunderstood and unjustly condemned by women’ , he then describes the impact on men of the role we took up, ‘Life has certainly been ‘very difficult’ for men; they have had the absolutely horrible job of having to be strong enough to, in effect, kill soul—to search for knowledge and determinedly defy our beautiful, cooperatively orientated, original instinctive self. And since that defiance resulted in becoming angry, egocentric and alienated, which are all divisive, un-Godly traits, men were, in effect, in violation of God, the integrative ideals of life! So from an initial state of upset, men had then to contend with a sense of guilt, which very greatly compounded their insecurity and frustrations and made them even more angry, egocentric and alienated’
What a way we have had to live!
Yet we have had no choice, because without explanation of this dilemma of the human condition our whole lives have been consumed with validating our worth. In essence, we have had no choice but to suffer the torment of our human condition and to go on this search for knowledge. As Griffith articulates ‘suffering upset was the price of his heroic search for understanding’
However with this knowledge comes understanding for men and women alike. ‘Now, at last, the world of men can be understood and through that understanding the battle between the sexes can finally be brought to an end–but not artificially through dogmatic feminist demands that men disown their masculinity and wash the dishes, etc, but rather through men being able to say, “This is why I am upset, there was a good reason for my upset, I happen to be good, in fact, not just good but an absolute legend, the hero of the story of life on Earth! And I have had the most horrific job that wasn’t made any easier by you women criticising me.” And for their part women can respond with, “I understand that now, but our job was to keep the soulful true world alive as much as possible and to nurture a fresh generation which wasn’t made any easier by you men being so egocentric and self-preoccupied”’ ().
And significantly with this ability now to understand the human condition and the underlying psychology driving our behaviour Griffith explains that this behaviour can legitimately subside and bring about a new potential for all humans;
‘Our upset lives are explained and defended now, which means we no longer have to be preoccupied compensating for that upset by finding forms of self-aggrandisement, by seeking self-distraction, or by chasing relief through materialistic forms of compensation for all the hurt we experienced growing up in an immensely human-condition-afflicted world. In other words, we no longer need to seek power, fame, fortune and glory to make ourselves feel good about ourselves because our goodness has now been established at the deepest, most profound level. Instead, we can simply leave our whole ‘must-prove-our-worth, attack-and-deny-any-criticism’ way of living behind as obsolete and redirect all our thoughts and energies into supporting and disseminating these human-race saving understandings, and to repairing the world from all the damage our species’ upset behaviour has caused—because with the human condition solved, all the upset that is causing the destruction of the planet can now end, which means it is at last possible to properly and permanently repair our environment... All our egocentric, embattled posturing to get a win out of life, all our strategising every minute of every day to try to find a way to compensate for feeling inadequate or imperfect or bad about ourselves, can suddenly end…Excitement and meaning—based on liberating, truthful, honest understanding of ourselves and our world—is what we have to sustain ourselves now. ().
So from a seemingly hopeless and despairing path of ‘self-destruction’, a path to true ‘self-discovery’ has arrived. Through understanding the human condition and that there has been a very good reason for all our selfish, divisive and destructive behaviour, the underlying burden of guilt and insecurity that we have all been living with can be lifted from our individual and collective psyche and all of our crazy and destructive behaviour can subside!
Yes the horror and heroism of a man’s life under the burden of the human condition can now end. One by one we can transform ourselves from the shackles of the human condition and all of its contradictions and misunderstandings. We can live for and look forward to a future where all humans can live free of the burden of the human condition, and the relief and excitement that that can bring to each and every one of us is a truly wonderful gift.