Date: 21 Feb 94 18:45:25 To: All Subject: New theory on the evolution of human good + illw

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Date: 21 Feb 94 18:45:25 From: Mike L Oneill To: All Subject: New theory on the evolution of human good & ill-will From: oneill@world.std.com (Mike L Oneill) Organization: The World Public Access UNIX, Brookline, MA a new theory I've developed on the origins and nature of good and evil. My dilemma is that to do my theory justice requires much more space than "netiquette" rightly allows. So I offer a very abreviated sketch here of my book "The Ambivilent Mutants: The Evolution of Human Good and Ill-Will". I've begun musical, theatrical and cinematic projects as well to dramatize my ideas. I'm looking for interested parties on the business side--agents, publishers, backers etc--*and* creative collaborators. I'm set to travel the country (and maybe outside the U.S.) if necessary to work with like minds... **Interested persons please contact me by phone or postal mail only** Synopsis: Every day by conservative estimate 45,000 children die easily preventable deaths from disease and starvation... as do hundreds of thousands of adults. Most of us--billions of people--live poorly fed, clothed, and sheltered. The safe minority of us live in dread of becoming one of these human sacrifices, and so work stifling, demeaning jobs that require us to look the other way from our participation in the on-going cruelty. This brute hierarchy predominates Nature and our human condition. Animals have no choice, but we do. Sadly, we humans don't just allow it, we arrange it: While all the great religious and economic systems provide for basic decency in theory, all have boiled down to variations of profit system, i.e. brute hierarchy, in practice. The main difference between them has been the form of profit/privilege deferred to the elite--status, salt, dollars, slaves, sea shells land, mating rights etc. Elitism has been agreed to by both master and slave throughout history. When we see a rich life form like Donald Trump out on the street, there but for the lack of contacts and craftiness go most of us. Yet most of us, rich, middle and poor, cling to our fantasy of collective decency as an abused child clings to it's abusive parent. No wisdom either convincingly accounts for our spell of ill-willful numbness or offers much more than cosmetic ways to cure it. Our courage and malaise is best explained by secular spiritualism. Good and ill-will and their spell-casting powers are not just in us; they *are* us. If we were water, they would be hydrogen and oxygen. How did we get like this?: The basic nature of life is the survival instinct. This alertness to self- preservation is the same in all life forms, and has remained the same since first life appeared on the planet: Plants, animals, viruses, bacteria, humans-- every kind of life wants to indefinately expand it's identity. In short: All life wants to grow forever. The problem is that on earth nothing is forever. Space, life spans, moods--everything has limited time and boundaries: Every- thing is a stage; when something comes to an end, it disappears; it decomposes /recycles into new stages... Life has always resolved this conundrum in fear or grace. In other words, the survival instinct has always played out in either fear or grace. Evidence:Under a microscope we can observe single cell animal life forms that are virtually the same as first animal lifes must have been. When they are threatened, some flail about, trampling anything they can in their path to escape. This kind of alertness has a different quality to it than their other activities. It is as distinct as the difference between the way a worm works the earth and the way it writhes on a hook. It is survival instinct played out in fear... Yet in order for first lifes to continue on to the next generation, they divided and died. That is, first lifes were able to defy their fear and engineer a graceful compromise between death and their drive for immortality. So, like us, even our single celled ancestors had two opposing identities-- fear and grace--each of which wants to grow for ever. Each identity deals with the unalterable reality of death/stage loss/recycling in their own distinct, conflicting ways. Grace is alertness in control; stage presence-- the capacity to make the best of the moment, then let it go. Fear is alertness out of control; stage fright--the compulsive dreading of, or clinging to, the moment. Fear wages a blind, futile rebellion against the reality of constant stage loss. Grace heroically invents ever more beautiful ways to deal with constant stage loss and recurrent stage fright. Every moment from first life to this moment one or the other rules. So, life has been alternatingly elegant and crazed from the very start. Like everyone, I know the confusion well. I was raised in a standard stew of genuine love and strangeness. My father met my mother in London during World War II. He was a 24 year old American bomber pilot, my mother a 19 year old show girl. A month or so later he was shot down on his 24th mission over Germany. He had needed to survive 25 to complete his tour of duty. No one had made it yet--he was the first in line to finish. They were going to bring him back home--to Hollywood, to be precise. He was to star in a documentary designed to boost morale for the war effort. Instead, he spent two years in a POW camp... When the war ended, he came straight back to London and married my mother three days later. Then came the hard part. Alcohol had been the anesthesia of choice on both side of the family for generations. So for my parents the horror and romance of war was just an escalation of the already familiar. Peace time didn't come for them until decades later. I was long gone from home. As I say, my family fell within the norm for my generation. We did not question suffering. We went along with the conventional wisdom which holds that, while it's natural to fear pain and strain, putting up with them will always be a necessary evil. Suffering serves a good purpose: It's part of God's benevolent but mysterious Plan which humans simply cannot comprehend. The good will outweigh the bad; life is basically decent. My personal boyhood fantasies, too, were typical: my father seemed omnipotent, my mother Queen of all I surveyed. I was the young Mickey Mantle. There were many joys, endless summers, energies, enthusiasms. I remember often lying on my back in the fields and jet-streaming with the sweeping sky above. But mixed in my earliest memories as well was an awareness of undefinable dread. I had recurring dreams where a witch would step out of the wall in my parents' bedroom as I was running to them; in another, a skull hovered on a low ceiling covered with moths.... I was in effect out of the family life by age 13, when I was sent away to private school. It was essentially Conform School for the Over-Privileged. In this insular world the teachers, who were called "Masters", did their up-most to validate Tradition. That year was a very tough time for me. By then I realized that the way in which I most resembled Mickey Mantle was that I had two lousy knees and couldn't run well. Other great expectations were falling apart at once. A fear of being tainted--of not only lacking what it takes to be well respected, but of down deep being weird, unworthy, doomed--possessed me for a time. Naturally, I kept silent about these feelings... I promised myself that if I ever felt "normal" again, I would do what I could to spare others the psychic Siberia I was enduring. But, things changed. I had a few successes, enough to bury my dread. I promptly forgot my promise as well and resumed pursuing my ideal--I would do better than normal; I would become one of the cool and fearless elite. My private myth-making carried on full tilt through college. I graduated steeped in fantasy, ideally suited for work in the advertising industry. After a string of sales jobs and a stint at social work, I joined it as a "head-hunter" in New York City. It soon became clear to me why there is so much money in this field: Ad people are the point men on the profit patrol--and are paid for their dangerous, dirty work accordingly. There are some magnificent and informative ads by any standards. However, most advertising, like bad erotica, willfully distorts with predatory intent. I wasn't concocting the new sit-com "That Darn Stalin", brought to you by the popular board game Trivial Genocide. But I was helping make the practice of human sacrifice seem okay, even sexy. Still... I was finally fulfilling my fantasies. I couldn't resist; I stayed in it for years. I did so by adopting a new persona: the hip maverick, mocking the flim-flam with friends in the biz. The biz itself tolerates, even encourages, such clubby hypocrisy--so long as you are careful to tout the line of industry worth and integrity to clients and consumers. Inevitably, the run-arounds I was helping to promote came around hard. As my own ads to myself (" I don't write that crap! You gotta take care of your family...Besides, I give a lot to charity") began to ring hollow, my teenage sense of menace revived like a virus. Daily living took on the helpless feel of a nightmare in which I, the neighbors, the homeless, the emperors--everyone is publicly naked in winter, craving numbness as we freeze. When I was a boy I had thought it was just me. Now I understood that, with the exception of the members of a few tiny, self-sufficient, isolated tribes, we are all suffering way too much at our own hands for no good reason. I had arrived at my mutanous conclusion: Something near the opposite of wisdom--conventional to cutting edge--is closest to the truth of things. Most of our enormous suffering is not necessary evil but an avoidable, tragic waste being caused by evil. Not supernatural, but natural human malevolence... Back to tracing the new version of evolution: In the desperate race between fear and grace, each side of Life's nature is evident every step of the way: When nerve cells and brains evolved, fear used them to invent the perception of pain. Pain's original purpose was strictly to warn of the danger fear had previously created: There was no original danger, pain, or sin--just original fear which invented them ... Grace used nerves to create the perception of pleasure. From the point of the evolvement of pleasure and pain on, fear has predominated animal and human life... so far! I think fear took the lead because it had the distinct advantage of being able to co-opt grace's invention of pleasure and combine it with pain. Ask anyone addicted to anything. Grace, on the other hand, has no use for pain. So Because of fear's advantage, the animal world became brute hierarchy-- the jumble of fear, pain, grace and pleasure in which fear and pain predominate. Amongst the primates, privilege for the elite took priority over sharing for all. Elitism ruled because, again, it made use of both pleasure and pain: The dominant males and feamales commanded the most and best pleasures of sex, food, and deference by threatening pain, or the strain of banishment, to the underlings in their group. For safety's sake the underlings learned to defer to the dominants. Deprivation became politically necessary suffering. Grace--symbiosis and group and family sharing--had it's strong second place in primate life. However, sharing was restricted to a monkey's immediate group, and under strong pressure even these group bonds of grace usually broke down. When food was scarce, low echelon group memebers--the very young and the very old especially--had to fend for themselves. When a chimpanzee group was attacked by a strong force of lions, dominant male protectors ran for cover, mothers abandoned infants: it became every monkey for himself. It was within these harsh circumstances that the next big step in the evolution of human nature took place: Primate brains developed consciousness. My guess is we gained consciousness via the process of natural selection-- the most observant, adaptable and brutal monkeys survived most often. Gradually the quality of alertness in their graceful and fearful opportunism evolved into consciousness. However, our new consciousness carried within it "conscience", which put our new minds under severe strain: When we were unconscious monkeys, we could kill,have sex, steal, or flee whenever we wanted without guilt. We were unaware of the suffering to others. But now we knew... and our sense of order was shattered. We were now obliged to drastically curb and modify our fear nature which had enabled us to compete and thrive, and provided predictability, miserable though it often was. We had to, without any model, become something brand new to the planet (and probably the Universe): animals with ethics! Imagine the pressures on the first humans. The uncertainties of life, the certainty of death, the realization we had half a mind to murder--two identities and one had to go: These are hard facts to discover and deal with for animals already strongly possessed by fear. Amazingly, our ancestors at times produced from the combination of fear and grace the good-will to identify fear and fight it. We actually learned to share outside our immediate, cultural, and national groups--even outside our species! However, at other times we couldn't face the strain of fighting fear. At these times we identified with fear and pain, and invented our fantasy of immunity: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em--become the agent, or silent partner, of fear and pain and they won't harm you as much as they would otherwise. The "agents" were the aggressive inflictors--the Hitlers. The "silent partners" were the followers and the ones who looked the other way. Then as now, the silent partners constituted the majority of the population. We wanted safety, not trouble, as we maneuvered for our chance to rule... Both the good and ill-willed ways of dealing with the dilemmas of consciounes were repeated, observed, taught; thoroughly inter-bred and imprinted. Over time they each have evolved into instincts with which we are all by now born. Now, either I'm guilty of twice projecting my own inner workings (first onto humanity, then onto Life itself) or much of our living--alternative to traditional--is based on fear-driven false orders. If I'm right, then we are obliged --- * Origin: toadnet.org - UseNet <=> ToadNet Gate (86:86/200.0)

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