Human Weaknesses and Strengths
The meanness of humanity does not loosen up with a sporadic show of love and works of charity. These activities merely reinforce the point that humanity has failed badly in its drive to spread universal love and family-hood. They are activities that are prompted by those who, perhaps, think that the rigidity of the society is on shaky ground; and they are also activities that warn about the rapacious tendencies of the few, the kind of rapacity that is leading to the degeneration of the many.
Of course, we can see people doing voluntary work, giving donations, establishing foundations, all with the hope of attaining fame or helping the needy, or both. Whether these activities are intensified, stay still, or recede, they point out the failure of humanity in dealing effectively with the important questions of peace, charity, love and happiness for all. Above all, these activities should not arise from the tactical or strategic plans of policy or decision makers. They simply should be at the core of a society’s mores, culture; and if they are not, then a society or the society in question is not anchored on fundamental principles of egalitarianism so important for fostering moral and social responsibility.
We are not here talking about humanity in general but certain sections of humanity lodged in given physical spaces, or sections of humanity outside these physical spaces that claim an indivisible connection to such spaces. Quite often, the reflective person’s conscience is awakened to the misdeeds of a society whose group psyche fails to yield the kind of peace that can stabilize a world already in chaos. The whole process looks like a drama, but it is a reality.
Group psyche is not a natural outcome; it develops largely from an ideological framework constructed from the sources of power. While the collective personality is a consequence of culture, group psyche is a far more complex thing. Group psyche arises more from the manipulations of certain aspects of culture, largely from invented ideas formalized as cultural truths by the sources of power; and this constitutes the ideological framework. For fear of being readily exposed as immoral doers, the sources of power subscribe to a basic misinformation and, thereafter, strive to universalize it – at all cost. Such propaganda ought to alarm us, for it creates potential or actual danger, brings misery, torments innocent lives, and ultimately promotes havoc at a time global cooperation and equitable respect for cultural variations are most desirable.
Are we blind to ideological constructions that are paraded as absolute truths, as unavoidable in the spirit of democracy, when, in fact, all they can provide are nothing but cultural falsehoods spun from an imperial culture? The propagandists are particularly skillful in letting their falsehoods to permeate many corners of the world. They style such falsehoods “liberty”, “democracy”, “civilization”, “development”, “progress”, and so on; and underneath their machinations are the inexorable quest to dominate other cultures without realizing – or better – understanding that what we claim to be culture is not in agreement with their cultural falsehoods. Time and again, we have failed to recognize the natural character of culture in so far as it takes shape from the continual engagement of people with the exclusive environmental space in which they find themselves. Think about this.
One environmental space, say p, is different from another one, say q, in all attributes that are judged natural. In terms of their respective different-ness, issues about climate, flora and fauna readily come to mind. In reality, we call p and q societies because they have inhabitants who have constructively engaged the environment from their respective antiquarian pasts up to the present. What, moreover, makes them modern societies, depending on what we judge, subjectively, as modern, is the fact that they have respectively fashioned – out of sheer need – political, religious, economic, and social systems in order to meet the challenges of their respective environments. The whole course of action is a human need, pressed into service by whatever conditions the environment presents at any given time. Nonetheless, we can discern imperfections, human misdeeds in different environmental spaces. That is the enigma in humans, which the balancing acts of the environment and group psyche will ultimately redress as an internal mechanism.
Since environmental spaces are different, cultural forms are also different, and we ought not to tamper with this natural arrangement. When we see such environmentally determined cultural forms as a given, as some kind of godly arrangement, then we are apt to discredit the endeavours of imperial agents who insist on changing the structure of another or other cultures to conform to theirs. If such changes occur, then the natural direction of culture gets dislocated, and a new direction, entirely messy, confronts the given environmental space without the usual symbiosis.
But this kind of disorder is not only between the new humanity and the environmental space; it also brings a web of chaos to the individual and collective psyche. Absolutist judgment of other cultures based on the indicators of another culture is not only a palpable failure but a miscalculation in the first place. The psychopathological feelings and views of a social group should not decide the fate of other peoples and cultures. Unless this anomaly is purged, we can see the proliferation of human depravities and a distortion of cultural forms. But this is what is misleadingly construed as progress, civilization, freedom, democracy, among others.
Superpower economics and politics have brought new psychological impulses to its backers, its unreflective social group or uninformed admirers. And the question of truth is forsaken and replaced with the collective conscience of guilt projected by its architect as the true spirit of civilization. The guilty conscience of a social group inverted and presented as a liberating conscience for others to emulate is a menace to humanness, and it is also unsustainable within morally upright cultures. Such guilty conscience is a product of a culture that thrives on principles of individualism often separated from a group or cooperative relationship with the natural environment. Humans tend to be mechanized, eliminated from pious assimilation with an environment that they seek to subdue instead of living in, with. Yet this is mistakenly, widely visualized as the new authentic human being, the real reflection of personal identity.
Personal identity should not be seen as a philosophical, abstract notion. Our identities – yours and mine – are also, in large measure, cultural identities. The sum of my internal and external reflexes can be captured from the point that I grew up in a certain environmental space different from yours and from which the distinctive characteristics that I portray are different from yours. This is the essence of culture. Despite such differences, we are united in the realm of humanity because we understand that cultures happen to be different, not absolute. But if we view personal identity as an abstract, purely philosophical notion, then we could fall into the trap of overruling cultural identity as central to personal identity. Imperialist practices tend to subscribe to the abstract notion of personal identity – or so it seems.