We are mentally stuck as a species!
I was recently struck by how mentally stuck we are as a species with incredibly damaging consequences for the well-being of the planet’s citizens!
Consider what is going on in the US. The Republican party, spearheaded by the Tea Party faction, has created a deadlock, forcing the US government to start cutting non-essential services. Polls show that this is going to hurt the Republicans. Yet, they are stuck in their dated viewpoint that rejects any new effort by the government to intrude in peoples’ lives, even when it is good, as is the case with the so called Obamacare initiative, which lies at the root of the current failure to arrive at a bipartisan agreement that would have stopped the shutting down of services.
Let’s now jump to the Middle East. The newly elected president of Iran, Mr. Rouhani, in a break with his predecessor, has held out an olive branch to the West. He has stated that “Iran will never develop a nuclear weapon,” and that his government has the full authority come to an agreement with the West in this regard. Mr. Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, however, wishes to convince the West that this is merely a game of smoke and mirrors, a ruse, and the Iranian government is not to be trusted. Same old; same old; unable to move beyond the past.
Go anywhere and look at the news, history seems to incessantly repeat itself. It seems that only a few people can move beyond the bounds of the past and the knee jerk reactions that are driven by them. When they do, as for example the reconstruction of Europe after WWII by the victorious US, or Gandhi’s non-violent mobilization of India’s masses to overthrow colonial rule, or Nelson Mandela’s Reconciliation Commission to forge a new and harmonious post-apartheid South Africa, great things are achieved.
Perhaps political leaders should pause and ponder. Should they remain entrenched and entrapped in knee jerk politics? This is the lazy option relying on effortless automatic responses without reflection. Relying on the ancient associative mental capacities that are common to all animals—think rats and electric shocks here. Or, should they try to forge something new and beneficial for their citizenry, by eschewing the knee jerk response, and taking the thoughtful high road that exploits the advanced cognitive capabilities that our unique to our species. It’s worth a politicians time considering this, as it might just ensure them a place in history.