Welcome to stren #54: Why make love our most important enthusiasm? In prior strens, we have discussed the process of freeing our will power from instinct and tradition to assume responsibility for our personal well-being. Who and what we are, and how we are to think, feel, and act are first determined by endogenous and exogenous forces over which we have no control. For simplicity, I have called these forces instinct and tradition. More broadly they have been labeled nature and our nurturers, or fate and circumstance. These early controllers are dictators in that they lay out specific action paths and command us to follow them. They don’t ask our opinion because it takes years for us to develop one. Nature has gifted us its most advanced brain, containing a sophisticated computer we call the cerebral cortex. Like any computer, it is first programmed to follow commands. Unlike other computers, when our cortex is mature and equipped with language and knowledge, we become super intelligent. As we grow more intelligent, we become capable of self-programming. However, no matter how powerful we become, until we assume personal responsibility and rebel from our early masters – a process we call becoming our own person or self-mastery – our intelligence will remain servant to the whims of instinct and our nurturers.
Now here is the most interesting part of the process of our becoming powerful creators. To the degree that we free our will from the demands of our early dictators, we make ourselves responsible for our own destiny and all that is about us. We empower ourselves to change what instinct and our nurturers have commanded. The greater the knowledge we acquire, the greater our power to make both constructive and destructive changes. We have suddenly acquired so much power that surviving and thriving requires that we direct our energy constructively. Today’s weapons of destruction offer no second chance. Our new pathway must be prevention rather than making mistakes and curing them. We must get it right the first time.
Here is the problem: We acquire the power of knowledge before the wisdom to consistently direct that power constructively. Mental freedom is the power to act both wisely and stupidly. The power of knowledge has put us in a race, like it or not, between civilization and self-annihilation. The recent explosion of knowledge has thrust our generation into the role of godlike dictators. We have both the opportunity and the burden to rule wisely; or we could abdicate our throne and passively allow instinct and the established traditions of our nurturers to persist. This would be a very stupid choice, because instinct and tradition include destructive aggression and war as a favored means of resolving conflict. The win/lose outcome of destructive confrontation is no longer applicable. The outcome of weapons of ultimate destruction is lose/lose.
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