November 21, 2023•576 words
The routine of every day is automatic. One gets up and does what one does without thinking much about it. The body proceeds while the mind gets lost in random thoughts, worries, memories, and processing information. The hands wash the face, prepare the coffee, put on the coat, and lock the door. All the while, the mind thinks about the night's dreams, the day's worries, and, not surprisingly, the weather. And millions of people around the world join you in unison.
The time when all this changes is when something happens to break the routine—a sickness, an injury, a war, or some other unusual event. But otherwise, you can go on like this for 30 years without a change. And when we talk about peace and an excellent, stable life, we refer to this dull, repetitive, uninterrupted human life, where nobody disturbs an automatic, peaceful existence. But is just "living" what it's all about?
Indeed, there's more to it. Certainly, a life of excitement has more value. For better or worse, a life of excitement involves danger, fear, anger, frustration, and a rainbow of feelings and emotions. Being genuinely alive consists of having opinions, reactions, objections, and battles. Modern society has been primarily effective in shielding us from these experiences by creating an illusion of security and predictability. But the eventual awakening through horrifying wars and other events cannot be avoided. Once in a while, the world goes into completely unpredictable abysses where, surprisingly, most of our species learn to adapt to these new situations. Yet, this is another proof that mankind is much more versatile than we give ourselves credit for.
All the horrors in the world do not destroy our species and only slightly change our interactions. Where human decency is seen as safeguarded by law and order, it still blossoms in places where law and order have failed. Where the good common life is seen as a precedent for a decent society, many poor societies are known for their kind populations. So, is this idea that a strong government is what creates a good culture anything but another illusion? Is a rich government that takes care of its poor of any value? And is crime less because of the government or the values of that society? And where do these values come from? Are they institutional brainwashing, religious values, or even genetic values? Undoubtedly, it is not hereditary, as we all come from barbarians. Yet, with all its laws and culture, Rome was indeed a cruel society, just like ancient Greece, Babylon, and Ancient Egypt. The tax of the Dark Ages was a mere 10% when, today, in many places, it is 50%. This tendency to make the past look so evil and primitive and the present so enlightened is nothing new.
In a world of paganism, there was decency. In a world of crusades and inquisitions, there was decency. In a world of fascism and communism, there was decency. And now, in a world of neo-liberalism and Islamic Fundamentalism, there is decency. Therefore, it seems that human character is independent of all of these trends and has its roots in the much more primitive and universal value of not doing what you don't want to be done to yourself or treating others like you want to be treated. A primitive value for every beast is that to bite is to get beaten, and to come in peace is to go in peace.