written by: Kosjenka Muk
While learning to recognize emotional patterns from childhood, emotional traditions of our family and their consequences, and how to heal and change them, it’s important not to ignore biological aspects of our everyday behaviour.
Without awareness of what our biological heritage urges us to do, we can rationalize and justify such urges, finding ways to follow them in spite of the ideals we claim to cherish. Practically every system in history, based on new, humanistic ideals, failed or was quickly corrupted because of such behavior: religions, communism, democracy, New Age … all of those systems gained followers because they promoted promising, progressive ideals, and then became a background for manipulation and power struggle, because their followers accepted to be lead by dominating, aggressive individuals. Without information and awareness of those processes, human communities will continue to generate and follow selfish, unscrupulous leaders, regardless of publicly proclaimed ideals.
Humanity, just as all the other species, was developing for millions of years in an environment in which the most important, but difficult task, was to survive and reproduce as much as possible. From a purely biological point of view, everything else was not important. It’s actually impressive to see how many people have already raised above this kind of mentality just through education and awareness. Yet, we still have a lot to do.
Natural balance demands the existence of predators who will limit the exhaustion of available resources. The existence of predators demands that each species and individual has to fight to ensure as much healthy and capable offspring as possible. That leads to mutual competition and struggle to prove oneself, not just among individuals, but among communities, tribes and nations. On one hand, this enabled the development of whatever consciousness, intelligence and creativity we experience now, and on the other hand, it’s currently causing short-sighted waste of resources and lack of concern for the future, that might cause our (almost) extinction as a species. I don’t plan to proceed with misanthropic criticism of human nature – any other animal developed in same circumstances, i.e., on Earth, would probably act the same if it had our level of intelligence and technological development.
The urge to compete and struggle for power, to attract as many quality sexual partners as possible for successful reproduction, is deeply ingrained into society and visible on every step, in more and more extreme and manipulative ways, as those less extreme and less manipulative become common and thus not enough to distinguish oneself. It’s similar with choosing impulsive, aggressive and confident leaders, such as most human communities chose through history, so to compete with neighboring communities. But what was working in the past when we needed to focus on reproduction to survive as a species, is not only dubious but clearly dangerous right now, when the survival of us all depends of our ability to think forward, to foresee long-term consequences and to cooperate. Hoarding wealth is simply not sustainable, and, combined with overpopulation and lack of ecological awareness, can lead to massive wars and starvation, as we exhaust our resources one after another.
The revolution of future
The true revolution we need to achieve is not primarily social, but biological – to stop choosing sexual partners and political leaders based on their ability to hoard wealth and dominate, and start choosing them based on their ability to cooperate, empathize and be responsible. If we don’t make that change quickly by ourselves, we will be forced to do so through global painful experiences.
That means facing and dealing with our own impulses. Some scientists speculate that even our ability to reason and ask questions did not develop as a tool of personal and group improvement, but as a way to fight for dominance and authority. That shows in forum discussions, where almost any topic, no matter how benign, can soon turn into a power struggle. I recommend also this interesting article: 5 Logical Fallacies That Make You Wrong More Than You Think.
Sometimes it almost appears that human evolution requires a part of population to be violent and exploitative, so that the rest could evolve by learning to recognize different types of violence and manipulation and dealing with it. In the end, it appears that evolution is pushing us towards developing consciousness and cooperation, in which the current situation in the world seems to be one of the crucial moments. Even if evolution is based on principles of selfish competition, it forces us in the end to develop unselfishness and cooperation, which is an impressive play between what appears negative and relative positive.
Different spiritual practices mostly ignore this information and explain selfishness by ideas of evil or ego, which, according to those philosophies, can and must be erased or controlled through spiritual development. But, often it gets distorted into suppression instead of awareness, control instead of understanding, and either self-hatred or hypocrisy instead of finding a healthy balance.
You cannot obliterate your selfish biological urges, but you can deal with them much more easily once you resolve your emotional patterns and immature beliefs. In my experience, suppressed childish emotions are much more intense and have stronger influence than biology by itself. How our biology will express itself, is mostly influenced by what we have learned through our childhood (which we can un-learn). An emotionally healthy person who grew up in a healthy, balanced family, will not have too many problems with his or her biological impulses and will find ways to direct them into something constructive. Some human communities have succeeded in creating societies of peace, cooperation and tolerance. How would it be if we started to compete in kindness and prove ourselves in tolerance?
Therefore, the more you resolve self-hatred and self-depreciation originating in your childhood, the less you will feel the need to fight for power and be selfish. You will be able to think: “Ah, that’s just biology” and direct it into something constructive. You will be able to recognize the urge to follow (or love) someone who appears powerful and dominant, and understand that it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are competent and emotionally healthy. You will be able to find fulfillment within, instead of outside. Teach your children about all of it too – that is most important.