The state of human civilizations has always been precarious. The nature of advanced technology especially in regards to its deleterious effect on the biosphere, the extent of dire poverty experienced by so many individuals throughout the world and the continued growth of the human populations have placed additional pressures upon the natural environment and the stability of human communities. Whether or not humanity can successfully transcend these immense issues is open to question.
The essence of human behavior lies, in fact, within the intricacy and complexity of the human brain. This fabulous organ has evolved over millions of years of evolution. On an elemental level, the predominant driving force is related to survival of the individual and the propagation of the species. This we share in common with all of life.
Layered over this are the areas in the brain relegated to complex emotions and higher-order thinking. Profound self consciousness probably sets us apart from all other creatures on the planet. This faculty brings with it the challenge that faces every individual – to find the balance between striving for individual accomplishments and contributing meaningfully to the commons. This balance is the essence of human happiness. To my thinking, humans naturally derive pleasure from both of these types of behaviors otherwise the species would not have survived over these millions of years. The advance of technologically-based culture has distorted this balance and shifted emphasis to the individual. This core belief in the supremacy of the individual has proven to be seriously flawed.
Collectively, humanity needs to reeducate itself for the sake of its own continued survival. I believe the answer lies in perfecting the art of self examination in order to truly understand what truly motivates us. A corollary to this is the practice of self discipline. Without these tools, the individual can become prey to the vagaries of experience.
Collectively, we are the masters of our own fate. Either we take hold of the future, or we allow the forces of dissolution and destruction to continue unabated.