A Common Human Nature12 Jan 2007, Posted by Writings in
The Human Genome project, admirable though it is, is not a practical guide to understanding who we are. Over thousands of years, humans have been trying to understand themselves and find ways to live a better life. We are now in the privileged position to have at our disposal the collected wisdom of thousands of years from all over the world. Never in history has such an event occurred. We do indeed live, in “interesting times” and it is up to us to turn this Chinese curse into a blessing.
Any reader of classic texts soon realizes that the striking similarities found across different traditions and continents, outnumber the differences. Behind the tremendous variety of opinions lie a common bedrock of insights which are true across times and continents. Reading the classics is not the only way to arrive at this truth. Any well traveled person who happens to be a keen observer will readily concur to the same truth. The internet now allows people who live thousands of miles apart to bond and discover the same truth: behind our differences lies a common human nature.
The need for food can be satisfied with a tremendous variety of foods. Yet this need is one and the same in all human beings regardless of the variety with which it is satisfied. Throughout history people have used some difference or another (race, color, ethnicity, gender etc.) to draw false distinctions and assign illegitimate privileges. It has taken centuries for people to realize that such distinctions are unfounded, yet in many parts of the world, even the ones where such realizations have been made into law such erroneous beliefs are still with us. The tendencies that may veer us off the truth in such matters are deep rooted within us and without proper education they can take the horrible forms we have witnessed throughout history.
It is thus vitally necessary that not only the truths themselves but the way such truths were ascertained be made publicly available so that citizens of the world can learn to discern them on their own without the aid of artificial authorities.
You have to remember however, that the way can be shown but if you do not tread it, then you will never learn to walk nor ever reach where it leads. You can witness thousands of people swimming. You can have the best teachers in the world explaining everything beforehand. But unless you enter the water you will never learn how to swim nor what it means to be swimming. Personal effort is therefore quintessential for improvement, maturity and understanding. These words will not be enough.
We are in a critical phase in our evolution where our technological capabilities are supplying ever greater means in achieving our ends. But the evolution of humanity does not rest solely in the ever increasing efficiency of means towards our ends, but in a transformation of the ends themselves. That, in the end is the difference between freedom and necessity; humanity and the rest of the animal kingdom. To choose a different ending, instead of blindly following evolutionary tendencies that are no longer beneficial.
In order to do that, we have to discover and become aware of our innermost tendencies. We have to know ourselves. In knowing ourselves we become free.