Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Plausibility of Our Human World

“I had an epiphany once that I wish I could stimulate in everyone else. The plausibility of our human world, the fact that the buildings don’t all fall down and you can eat unpoisoned food that someone grew, is immediately palpable evidence of an ocean of good will and good behavior from almost everyone, living or dead. We are bathed in what can be called love.

And yet that love shows itself best through the constraints of civilization, because those constraints compensate for the flaws of human nature. We must see ourselves honestly, and engage ourselves realistically, in order to become better.”

 Jaron Lanier
 You Are Not a Gadget

Lanier (VR pioneer and big thinker about the digital realm) seems to subscribe to the T.H. Huxley view of human evolution: the human species obeyed the biological imperative by competing with--i.e. killing off--other species in its niche, but human civilization can evolve in the opposite manner, by societal and personal cooperation, ethics and, as he says, love.

In this way, people shape the kind of world they want to live in by their daily behavior, and by the behavior and commitments of the institutions that set expectations beyond their lives and lifetime.  That's the danger of shredding institutions with hate, greed and by people mindlessly letting their dark side rule.

I've had cause to interact recently with a number of people on the North Coast whose jobs are in health care.  Unfailingly they have been friendly, direct and competent.  These are the kind of people that are building the future, not the ego-mad monsters in Washington and on Wall Street.

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