Welcome to stren #65, A Movie Fantasy. This is an exercise in assuming responsibility. You have seen the individual “film clips.” Now let us bring them together to create a feature motion picture of our development. The magnificent plot of nature and nurture has brought the audience to the edge of their chairs. You are the director! What next?
The plot thus far: In the beginning, there was nature. Following its own rules, nature created life. In human time, life’s development has ever so slowly, imperceptibly, progressed from the simplicity of a single cell to the wondrous complex creatures we see about us. Nature introduced mental life, consciousness and self-consciousness, intelligence, and the ability of creatures to know and learn. At first, nature directed consciousness and served as its “teacher.” Then students created increasingly complex symbols to represent and manipulate the common physical world we all share, and the students became teachers.
The plot becomes more interesting as some families of living beings acquire the ability to not only experience a private mental life but also to convert nonphysical concepts into physical energy. Our family, humankind (H), makes a gigantic leap. The combined creativity of nature and nurture enables us to store information, to program our own meanings into symbols, to reflect on our own thinking, and to create new pathways for action. They add a third master – self – to take responsibility for our development. Nature and nurture have determined that their newest child shall have self-mastery! Through the development of intelligence and the cooperative efforts of our teachers, H is becoming independent of the rules of our parents.
Applying the “trigger power” of symbols, H is acquiring the freedom of self-management along with immense power to “make a difference.” By focusing our attention on the commonly shared physical phenomena of the world, H has created a science of the rules governing their application. Skill in applying these rules to direct its power has grown “explosively.” Thus far, H has understandably invested most energy in rapidly expanding power, producing and improving both our productive and destructive means of aggression. This is because through our evolutionary past, nature and nurture’s means of function (their “operating systems”), which have been programmed for “survival of the fittest” – domination, blaming, competition, and the like, have been the undisputed directors of its creatures. We see that these predetermined scripts for living are no longer adequate. Recently, H has begun to invest limited resources in the science of peaceful conflict resolution. The lead actor is increasingly acquiring the godlike will power to direct his own destiny and even most of what is about him. And now, as H’s power for self-mastery matures, H dares to take on the tasks of managing its very own parents, nature and nurture.
Here is the drama. The time to reverse the expression of our current and expanding means for mass misery is rapidly ticking down to zero. We now face the critical task of harnessing destructive aggression to express its awesome energy toward constructive ends. The drama is cresting. Given the powers of our physical science and the freedom to direct its outcome, will the director of this motion picture apply H’s self-mastery constructively or destructively? Does H allow its power to be controlled by the “fight/flight” and the habitual action patterns of nature and nurture? Shall we continue to emphasize the “trial-and-error” and “role-modeling” methods of learning that have brought us to the present? Does our new scientific knowledge to manipulate physical power require a “no trial” mental method of learning that permits us to act with wisdom based on reason, imagination, and fantasy before committing action which is irreversible? We see that nature and nurture’s gifts of intelligence, power, freedom, and self-mastery entrust, and suddenly thrust the choice onto the protagonist, H. The evidence of destructive intention and the multiple “emergency alert” alarms are ubiquitous. However, reason, the source of the protagonist’s motivation to take appropriate action, is numbed by the instinct and habit that has, thus far, sustained H. The protagonist appears to be passively waiting for salvation to come from some outside edict or intervention. H appears stuck in the older operating systems of nature and nurture. Self-destruction appears to be H’s future! Is H’s fate hopeless?
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