I don’t want to be a scaremonger. But I’m scared, and I intend to monger until the direction is of utmost clarity.
From Afghanistan to the world
Yesterday I saw Mahbouba Seraj talking on a program about the situation in Afghanistan. She’s a famous women’s rights activist, and she was talking about this. But I also saw her shifting towards something broader even than Afghanistan as a nation, or even the threat that comes from there towards the wide region, including Europe.
She was talking about humanity.
The program went further about why the West and Russia (not a part of Europe?) have repeatedly failed to ‘understand Afghanistan’ at the detriment of the Afghans themselves and, time and again, of the invaders or ‘liberators.’ And I saw:
It’s because we as a species don’t know who we deeply are.
This seems like a relatively little bump. “Just get to know yourself better,” one could say. Indeed, but before and after this happens, ‘we’ determine the face of the earth in every aspect. If we as a species have a fundamentally mistaken view about ourselves, it cannot turn out nicely.
Basically, the human species gradually developed within the realm of modular mental processing but didn’t learn to deal with it. This modularity eventually also gave us what we call ‘consciousness.’ Through all this, we can communicate conceptually with ourselves and others. We can write down the results of our modular thinking. We can develop technology and culture without end.
Good, but also challenging
I’ve been writing about this for years now.
The modularity turns itself into not seeing within ourselves anything else. In extremis, (many) people think to be conscious without anything meaningfully happening within the mental world that is not modularly communicable as much as desired. This is the basic cognitive illusion that prevents us from seeing ourselves as we deeply are. It leads people into many illusions that are hard to tackle.
There are huge intra-individual consequences of this.
It is a scientifically well-known fact that more than half of the medical problems for which people seek assistance are mind-related, meaning that the mind-view is at least as important as the body-view. This is immensely costly in human suffering in almost any health domain as well as in trillions of $. If one wants to keep healthcare affordable while even drastically furthering health itself, this is the place.
At the same time, the solution to this is hampered by the same cause. Not seeing where it comes from, the idea of guilt is never far away, and the whole domain of psycho-somatics is not taken seriously.
There are also huge inter-individual consequences of this.
I return to Mahbouba. She was pointing to it without explicitly phrasing it. In the example of Afghanistan’s repeated catastrophe, she sees the need for going very deep in search of a solution. Thus, it’s also profoundly related to the relationship between Europe and the US, and between Europe and the Islamic world. But whenever she talks with European officials, she gets – in her words – a lot of bla bla bla, and no feeling of a deeper ground upon which can be built whatever is needed at the world stage.
She’s correct. Europe is a bunch of bla bla bla.
With this, I mean there is little depth at the sociopolitical level. Politicians keep turning around the essence. Do they not dare or do they not see? There is not even a grand idea that speaks to all European people.
Even in this, I see just an example of what happens at the broadest scale. What humanity needs and what we all need is a better view of who we deeply are.
Every war is an unnecessary catastrophe ― likewise, every build-up of armies, every famine, every discrimination of peoples (gender, race, religion), every not seeing ourselves in the whirlpool of causes and possible solutions of a ‘viral’ – but clearly a viro-psycho-socio-neuro-immunological – pandemic, every being stuck in needing a fairytale to make sense of ourselves because our illusory state is preventing rationality.
These enumerated catastrophes all have the same origin. They can only be avoided by getting to know who we deeply are.
We can call this ‘Compassion.’
The capital ‘C’ denotes the total person being involved in this. Compassion, basically, is not possible without fully striving for rationality and depth simultaneously, them being intertwined, as one entity.
Such synthesis is possible only through insight into who we deeply are. It is also conducive to this insight, thus to further Compassion culturally and individually. Compassion breeds Compassion.
The striving for Compassion generally includes the way people heal themselves. Especially at a moment of mental – and psycho-somatic – need, people may be prone to look at themselves because the symptoms are like cries coming from their own depth. One can see mind-related symptoms as open doors in both directions. Medicine and psychotherapy have an immense role in taking advantage of this opportunity, each time again. For this, it is needed to transcend the conceptual towards a synthesis with the subconceptual. In this regard, the future of mental healing is way more important than merely getting rid of rather superficial symptoms. To some degree, the latter is even counterproductive, making the solution part of the problem.
The result that we need to attain to avoid a worldwide catastrophe is not an unreachable utopia. At present, of course, it’s still a dream, one of worldwide Compassion.
The worldwide catastrophe that I see happening soon enough if we don’t reach this dream is one of A.I. built upon the view of us, humans, as dissociated from depth. In this setting, even the much-lauded human-A.I. value alignment will be the end of us.
I’ve written a (voluminous) book about this, ‘The Journey Towards Compassionate A.I.‘
But this journey doesn’t start with the A.I.. It starts with us. It is the responsibility of every individual as well as of rightfully supporting societies.