Among the multiple interests we share, peace ranks at the top. Wisdom enlightens us that survival now depends on changing the immature two-category way of thinking each of us first acquires. Our own innate negative thinking blames others and demands that they conform to our way, but as adults, we are responsible for our own life’s experience. Coercion by fear and intimidation may work in the short term, but it usually leads to escalation of conflict, stored resentment, and desire for revenge: “The next time, I shall win.” Our world is now full of oppressed tribes preparing for “the next time.” Our new reality is that we can no longer afford a next time because it is likely to be the last time. When we attack and murder our own stinking thinking, we hurt no one and make the world a safer, gentler place. We can succeed if we lead by example instead of by force. It is said, a person changed against his will is of the same opinion still.
Humankind is the leading edge of nature’s creative process. We alone can attain sufficient mental freedom from instinct and tradition to alter our destiny and assume responsibility for Mother Earth. Mental freedom is our opportunity to create alternatives and choose among them. We are the first and currently the only species with sufficient knowledge to reprogram our thinking to favor cooperation and peace instead of competition and destructive aggression. The momentous choice we each face is (1) to what degree we shall tolerate our will remaining a servant to the long established rules of instinct and habit, and (2) to what degree we shall assume self-mastery of our will to serve us favoring reason and wisdom. The introduction and proliferation of weapons of ultimate destruction (WUD) has created an emergency. The time remaining to choose is limited by the time it will take for WUD to be obtained by the leaders who seek them and already justify their use.
Thus, the primary reason we have war is because we have insufficiently taken the opportunity to free ourselves from uncritical obedience to our first masters. Nature and our nurturers command that we unquestioningly obey their authority. Instinct and tradition are ineffective and uninterested in teaching us to apply common sense wisdom that challenges their dictatorship. Authority resists change. As we attainphysical and emotional maturity, we may educate our self to become our own person. Super-maturity requires that we free ourselves from the authority of instinct and habit. Even those individuals who have the most oppressive self-serving nurturers can attain mental freedom once they acquire proficiency in reflective thinking, i.e. the human skill of using symbols to think about our thinking. Reflective thinking is our means to self-mastery. Physical maturity and sophisticated use of language equip us to attain self-mastery. We can claim our will as our own by selectively rebelling against the instincts and habits programmed by nature and our nurturers. Those with the misfortune to have oppressive nurturers, and who were brainwashed more than educated, will require greater effort to emancipate their thinking, but there are abundant examples of individuals who become their own person in spite of their early circumstances.
Although it is difficult to avoid the power of instinct and tradition, the great news is that we have virtually complete freedom to change the way we think. Our great religions and philosophers have worked out the basic universal wisdoms we need to survive and thrive. In our time we have created the means of mass communication that allow us to make our collective wisdom available to anyone, anywhere, anytime with little or no cost. We can rapidly teach ourselves the newer mode of thinking that Einstein and our informed citizens warn us that we require if we hope to survive our most powerful enemy – our self! Our challenge is to selectively free our will from authority so that we may solve new problems using common sense. Changing our way of thinking is quite straightforward, no harder than learning our ABC’s, using a computer, or learning any complex skill. The far more difficult obstacle is the resistance of instinct and habit to relinquish its authority over the force we call will power. Dictators rarely give up their control voluntarily.
When many tribes possess ultimate destructive power, the long established rules of survival become reversed. The time for weaker tribes to acquire doomsday weapons that make them world threats is now measured in years rather than billions of years. Suddenly, the strongest are the most vulnerable because they are the first to be targeted by each weaker group which aspires to become the new master race.
During humankind’s 150,000 years on earth, there have been many tribes and tribal leaders but no world leaders. No tribe has had sufficient destructive weapons and the means to transport a conquering army the long distances needed to rule the world. The Nazis, who were the last to try, would have succeeded if they had been first with nuclear weapons. In 1945, exclusively armed with “the bomb,” the U.S. could have coerced the rest of the world to submit to its rule, but chose instead to help rebuild Europe through the Marshall Plan. The U.S.S.R. soon became the second world leader with the capability of global conquest. NOW, in our current generation – that’s right, yours and mine – as you read this essay, other countries and terrorist subgroups are proliferating and acquiring WUD. Our recent speed of travel and the proliferation of WUD have made it possible for a single group and a single world leader to rule all, and the number of aspiring world leaders is increasing. Each potential world leader is now our neighbor because they can destroy our local community in the time it takes to walk to the next house. As someone facetiously quipped, just wrap the bomb in the tons of marijuana that daily comes into New York. Suddenly, like it or not, we have added citizenship in the world community to our “local” allegiances.