Dr. Zoltan Øbelisk has an essay contest about “What Is Wrong With The Human Race? Below is my submission.
Supposedly Humphrey Bogart thought the problem was that everyone was a few drinks behind. This may or may not explain things like stores specializing in pet tattoos (and don’t ask me if it’s tattoos for pets or tattoos of pets!)
As far as I’m concerned the real problem with the human race is control. Mr. Bogart certainly tried to become master of his own existence through heavy drink, but this strategy has almost never worked. The few times it has is almost surely pure coincidence.
If you take a moment to look at headlines, celebrity gossip, sports scandals, and generally observe the humans you see a lot of misery. Drugs, drunks, gambling, sexual frustrations and baggage, crime, war, and bad trips of all sorts mark our species. Obsession-compulsion. People who collect fast food restaurant toys.
If you check out this guy that was named Abraham Maslow he had his own kind of ‘food pyramid’ thing going. They call it “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.”
So that hierarchy basically says, “The humans need this stuff, but you can’t just give a bum a luffa and expect him/her to be happy. You gotta give the bum a house, food, water, medical aid, dental care, sex, sleep, etc. Then you give them the luffa, dummy.”
That humans have some total set of things we need in order to feel secure in our existence, and we need them in some general order from the things for basic survival to the things for physical preeminence…and then on to the things that, when had, keep us from doing things like barking orders at the waiter in the restaurant or double-parking our SUV in handicap spaces (or even owning an SUV).
And that’s the behavior I tend to focus attention on. Why is that guy yelling at the waiter? He thinks the waiter what, paid, or maybe blackmailed, the chef to sleep with the man’s wife? It wasn’t like that. The wife heard the chef was well endowed, and she always wanted her hierarchy tickled, so…But seriously, break it down. A human may break out in a horrid rash of anger, violence, and despair at the very mention of his or her lover being unfaithful. That’s about control.
You see some drug fiend arrested on the TV and say, “what a shame, why in God’s name would anyone let their life turn into that?” You don’t, however, stop to question what the hell they wanted to escape from so bad they’d resort to addiction. You don’t ask, this person, this prostitute, when they were a child maybe they were molested and raped by some adult they knew well and should have been able to trust? And so maybe now they are a prostitute because in choosing to undergo those same acts but for money they feel like they have the control they didn’t have back then?
And of course the control issue runs a cycle on us all. Take the gambling addict. He has financial troubles so he goes to the track to try to solve them. In turn creates more troubles. He’ll curse the lot of them, saying they should be made into glue. He’ll buckle down at work and make the nut and get out of debt. Hell, he’s even on top a little bit. That feels okay, but he reflects on the hell he just toiled in and feels dejected at the prospect that it was all to fill others’ coffers. So he takes his little bankroll down to the tracks to try to make his work payoff for once. That he deserves a surplus at least approaching the massive debt he’s just crossed off.
The basic algorithm of human misery is one of a loss of control followed by some aberrant behavior that attempts to establish control. Everything from overeating to serial murder to terrorism. And what’s worse, the behavior then becomes the trigger for more deviance.
One of my personal patterns is thinking. I see the misery and can’t control it, so I try to think of ways to solve or at least improve the global situation. That leads to the inevitable revelation that despite some ideas having merit I lack the means to test or implement them. Which leads to more thinking.
Or consider the USA’s foreign policy of late. For a whole century we tried to gain control of our destiny by gouging an anthill with a cattle prod. Then there was the reaction of the ants. So now we’re working on surveillance and other means of figuring out where the ants are, and better cattle prods. Its another cycle.
So what’s the solution? Stop the initial loss of control? It will sadly take too long for man to do a good enough job at that to be viable. The solution is, rather, to try to give people more control now. For those of society who we have deemed unsafe and put in prison, it remains in our best interest to give them the ability not to be beaten and raped and tormented, but instead to improve their stations in some small way.
It means instead of sending someone to rehabilitation for drug or alcohol addiction and then sending them back to their previous life, they should be shunted off into a new life where they actually stand a chance of breaking free of their past mistakes. Because control is all about your environment. If you’re in an environment you can’t control you will misbehave in some way to compensate. People stuck in traffic on the interstate will often drive in the breakdown lane.
Well, that’s my view about exactly what’s haywire. And why. And how to solve it. And I happen to think it’s right. So if you’re life is out of control instead of drinking too much or eating too much or other things like that, why not do something small. Go on google and find some simple origami. Make a swan. Or go buy a 500 piece puzzle (not the one with the hot air balloons, I hate that one) and do a little bit of it every day. Or take up knitting. Or whatever suits your fancy.
In other words, there’s pretty good odds against us beating this whole mess outright. Instead of trying to overcome a virtually insurmountable foe in a single battle, stage your own smaller battles for control. If you’re sick of fighting for a parking spot, find an alternative means of transportation (including giraffe). If your boss is an asshole then next time he’s about to shout or snap at you for some minor error or something that wasn’t your fault give him a greeting card with pictures of puppies on the front. Okay, that one might not work.
Point is, you can reclaim small bits of control that you don’t have now. You can. I can’t do it for you. God either can’t or won’t do it for you. You can.