Age of Unenlightenment.

September 24, 2012

Ever wonder why the human race remains incapable of solving its major dilemmas?
Hunger. Addiction. War. Pestilence. Racism. Xenophobia.
Most of these issues have plagued us since the beginning. Our Neolithic brethren could be violent, hungry and xenophobic. And still, today, we remain tethered to the same ills.
Why?
Last week, The Cincinnati Enquirer ran an article I recently wrote. Click here for the article. The piece discussed the idea that our debt issues threaten to saddle our children, and theirs, with a lifetime of difficult financial circumstances. I essentially wrote that our politicians are doing the exact opposite of "paying it forward."
Following the article's publication, the comments posted on The Enquirer's web site, as well as those that arrived via email, were indicative of why our politicians are not inclined to deal with our problems directly. We have very little understanding as to where the causes of our problems begin, and the effects of those causes take over.
"Two wars and tax cuts are responsible for our problems..."
"We are witnessing the largest wealth disparity the world has ever known..."
"We have to spend more to escape these horrible economic circumstances..."
"I'll bet you think that big corporations bear none of the blame, right?"
Each of those has some validity. Yet none are entirely true. Read between the lines and one finds only talking points. Messages that convince the electorate to accept the inescapability of our problems. None having much, if anything, to do with real, underlying problems.
We are obsessed with effects. With results. Yet blind to cause and condition.
Dr. David Hawkins, director of The Institute for Advanced Theoretical Research, wrote a book entitled, Power vs. Force. Therein, Hawkins provides some insight into this very human dynamic:
"Society constantly expends its efforts to correct effects instead of causes, which is one reason why the development of human consciousness proceeds so slowly."
Hawkins explains that man's lack of self awareness is his biggest detriment. We are stuck with a seemingly permanent lack of knowledge concerning ourselves. Accordingly, we rarely transcend cause and effect in such a way that we identify the definitive answers to our problems. To do so, we would have to identify and treat the very conditions that led to cause and effect.
Hawkins teaches that we are almost incapable of true self evaluation. Of realistic self appraisals. Therefore, many of our societal choices are made as the result of "expediency, statistical fallacy, sentiment, political or media pressure, and personal prejudice and vested interest. Crucial decisions affecting the lives of everyone on the planet are made under conditions that virtually guarantee failure."
Problems with obesity? Get lap-band surgery!
Problems with drug addiction? Go to jail!
Problems with poverty? Reelect a politician who did nothing last term!
Meanwhile, politicians run talking points on a loop until you can recite them in your sleep. No concern for the probability of achieving anything.
Politicians know that people have an issue with their grasp of the issues. So, they tell people what they want to hear. Though it means little, translates to less, and results in nothing.
So, our problems worsen. Even as technology improves. And the quality of life continues to improve around the world in spite of ourselves. Every year we feed, clothe and provide medical treatment to wider numbers.
Still, politicians focus on the effects instead of conditions. Attack the sources of many of the true vestiges of human progress. Because we permit them to do so. Reward them with return trips to Washington. Post-political careers as lobbyists.
Why can't we stop focusing on effects and begin treating causes. Begin identifying the conditions that ail us. That hold us back. Make us poorer. More desperate. More divisive.
This November, elect candidates for their ideas. Commit to looking for a granular bit of original thinking and the seeming wherewithal to deliver it.
Political ads that attack a candidate's checkered past? Turn away. Subliminal, political fallacy masquerading as substance.
Treating effects instead of conditions is like pouring water into the throat of a drowning man. Perpetuates the conditions from which we're suffering. Leaves us no more enlightened than we were yesterday. Or thousands of years ago.

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