Humans do amazing things, but we can also be supremely stupid. Other animals do less-amazing things perhaps, but they are also less stupid. We seem to be so smart yet so stupid.
Who we are
This is both the human gift and the human curse, the interconnected duality of our nature. Each one of us carries the seed of ignorance and violence, as we do the highest essence of wisdom and divine love. And, this makes us a sort of high variance species, to borrow a term from statistics — one with a large spread of possible actions. Hugely creative and hugely destructive.
So, this is both good news and bad news. The bad news is that we can screw things-up, royally. The good news is that the opposite is also possible. Indeed, for all our blunders, humankind has still accomplished much together working cooperatively. So, we have hope and a lot of choice.
Choosing carefully is something we can each exercise at the individual level and collectively through cooperative decision making at higher scales. We have the power to choose and we must do so with great care.
And, nothing is more important in choosing wisely than humility. It is humility that acts as a check against our own hubris. It is humility that can make us remember our capacity for destruction — that we can be so smart, yet so stupid.
Our technological advances and material advancements can blind us to our own folly. Humility is what can keep us grounded and mindful of the deeper consequences of our actions. Of the fact that we too are a fractal of the entire realm of nature and not something that stands outside of it.
So smart yet so stupid
The large variability in our actions comes from the power of our complex minds, something our animal cousins do not possess to the same degree. How we manage our complex minds is in a sense the essential question of what it means to be human.
It is what sets us apart from birds, llamas and kangaroos. It is the cognitive landscape that we have to each navigate throughout our existence. The cognitive landscape that makes being human both very tricky, but at the same time extraordinarily interesting.
Take the time to get to know yourself and your own mind. It is the gateway to bringing the best out in ourselves and in each other.
Harsha is a 1:1 coach and independent thinker based in London. He empowers people to find more clarity, confidence and focus in their lives — to cut through the noise, in a world so full of it. Harsha’s new book, Machine Ego: Tragedy of the Modern Mind, is now available in paperback and Kindle through Amazon.