We live in the most frightening, terrifying age of the human kind. There are terrorist attacks against innocent people every day. There are military coups and leaders are turning into dictators. The very United States, the world guardian and the all mighty peace keeper is heading towards dictatorship.
And we’re all gonna die.
But are we, really?
Of course we’re all gonna die. But probably not for any of the reasons above.
Reality Check: We’Re Safer Than Ever Before
Many of us are experiencing the world as I wrote above, in a sense that we’re feeling anxious and afraid, but the cold truth is that the world, as it is right now, in this very second, is way safer than it was 5, 10 or 50 years ago. Way, way safer. There are studies based on statistics showing clearly that it’s more likely to die killed by a piece of furniture than by a terrorist attack.
And yet, the feeling of uneasiness, or plain fear, is something that we cannot deny. It’s real.
We live one of the most unexpected paradoxes in the history of humanity. How did this happened?
Well, 30 years ago we started a digital revolution, by inventing internet and connecting each and every individual of this world to each and every individual of this world. And it worked. We live in a connected world. The mere fact that you can read this, right now, is a living proof of this incredible achievement.
But the fact that we can see almost instantly what happens virtually everywhere in the world brought us on the bridge of self-destruction.
Well, we got ahead of ourselves, in a way we never imagined.
Let me slow down a little, so you can understand better.
It’s Not More Bad Shit, But We Just See All Of It
The facts are showing us that the world is safer. There are significantly less terrorist attacks than 10 years ago. The lifespan of humans stretched to historically high numbers. We peaked in medicine and social engineering. We landed on the Moon and we also invented Pinterest. Gosh.
But we still feel threatened and insecure. Why? Because the information about everything – including bad stuff – travels way faster than before. It’s not that there are more attacks, but there are more eyes on the attacks happening, and we hear about them faster.
And we can react to them faster.
And boy, we really need to react faster to bad stuff.
Otherwise we’re going to die. Really.
And it’s this point in the whole scenario, this reaction engraved deep down in our amygdala, that is both the source of our problems and the evolutionary shift we need to create.
No, we’re not wrong in feeling insecure. No, we’re not wrong in feeling threatened. That’s how we were wired for thousands of years. That reaction pushed humanity forward, granted our survival and so we didn’t lose stage in favors of, I don’t know, bears or cockroaches. Because we were afraid of the bad stuff, we’re now the predominant species on Earth.
But the world in which we live right now is safer. We’re way beyond the stage when a tiger could be a life threat to our lives. We can simply shoot the beast now, if we want. (But not before taking a selfie with it. For our Facebook friends, you know.)
Well, try to tell this to our amygdala. It simply won’t understand it. And you know why? Because it simply exists. Because it’s there to protect us. And although the world got safer, that part of ourselves didn’t go away.
Biological Evolution Is Slower Than Us
Historically speaking, we took a quantum leap. During the last 500-1000 years we progressed so fast, that our biological cycle simply couldn’t cope with it. We improved our lives so fast, that we, in the sense of we, the biological machines that supports our consciousness, couldn’t adapt.
We’re still biologically wired to survive in a much violent world than the one we live in. We still have all the tools to react fast to danger. It’s like we’re monkeys in an amusement park. We see lights and hear noises and part of us is still on alert, while the other one is clearly understanding that this is just a big circus. And there’s no real danger in it. But we’re constantly on alert.
That’s how you can explain the success of the dictatorship approaches, from Trump, to Erdogan and Putin. They speak directly to our amygdala. And our amygdala responds faster than the pre-frontal cortex.
So, what do we do? What it is to do? Is there anything to do at all, or we’re really, really doomed?
I see two choices.
Choice #1 – Kill To Survive!
It means basically giving in to hate, to fear, to the “fight or flight” reaction we’re experiencing every time we sense danger. It means picking up the strong over the weak. At a macro-social level it means favoring a “strong and safe” dictatorship to an “unpredictable and dangerous” democracy.
At a micro-social level it means considering every person we meet as being our enemy, until he proves himself otherwise.
There is a lot of pressure to do this. A significant part of the world is leaning towards this.
I don’t know about you, but I see this as the end of the world, as we know it.
Choice #2 – Be Aware And Judge Everything In The Context
It means taking into account all the facts. It means being able to judge every fact in its own context and be aware of our own power and safety. It means ditching our amygdala. It means feeling safe and grounded. At a macro-social level, it means creating transparent power structures, which may or may not involve our current idea of democracy, but which will serve the interests of all the involved parties in a political structure. It may even mean inventing new ways of governances.
At a micro-social level it means considering every person we meet as being our equal, until he proves himself otherwise.
The Inside Battle
The battle is not between Trump and Hillary, or between Erdogan and democracy.
The battle is inside our own brains. It’s the battle between the biological byproduct of a long period of adaptation (the amygdala) and the incumbent, not even born yet, biological structures created from a much safer environment than we had during the last one hundred thousand years (probably the pre-frontal cortex, or somewhere around it).
It’s a very hard battle. The way things are right now, the incumbents don’t even stand a chance. Because they hardly exist.