Can the Left Brain Lead Human Destiny?
Can we see the forest?
Each of us lives on this earth for only a short period of time. An 80-year lifetime is only a tad more than one second in the 24 hour clock of human history. Our individual experiences in life are limited to the conditions into which we are born and raised. It is so difficult for us to rise above the trees of our individual view of life and the infinitesimal period of time that we exist on this planet.
We also live at a time when the human condition is changing at a pace that far exceeds any other period in human history. We can actually observe large and multiple changes in civilization within a single lifetime – something that has not been possible at any other time in human development. We also have a knowledge base and a control and understanding of nature that has never before been approached.
Is it possible for the human species to step back and take a look at itself? …..where it has been?……..and where it is going? Can the City of Man residing in the left brain do so?
If we are able to do the above, then even more questions arise: Can we steer the direction of our species?…….and do we have the wisdom to know the appropriate direction?
Positioning for the future
Group success is ultimately most important for survival of our species. There have been numerous different governance systems throughout our history and throughout our current world. There is Darwinian competition among civilizations for control of our planet, its resources, its people, and ultimately the future of the species. Accordingly the most successful civilizations or governance systems are the ones that we see today. Previous civilizations and governance structures, such as the earliest civilizations, have passed into history because they were not as successful.
A governance system that is attuned to and consistent with the human core will also be successful at nurturing human potential and at leading humans into the future. We are clearly reliant upon one another and the ultimate success and happiness of each individual depends upon success of the group. Ultimately it is group success that really counts and will “win” in the long run. It is also likely that the most successful group in the long run will be the one in which individual satisfaction and group success work in harmony.
We certainly cannot know the future for our species. Currently there are several competing civilizations on our planet, and the signs of conflict between them are clear and growing. Will we eventually have a single civilization? - or will we continue to have several?
All humans on this planet will be best served if we live cooperatively and in harmony - something probably best accomplished if we all were within the same civilization. However, it is also possible that, just as monopolies are not good for the development of commerce and business, civilization monopoly may not be good for our future. Perhaps Darwinian struggle and competition among civilizations is what is best for our future.
It seems highly unlikely, given history and the current status, that humans could all agree on a single civilization. Possibly the only scenario in which the human species would cooperate worldwide and work within a single civilization would be in response to a common and external threat such as from an extra-terrestrial source.
City of Man and City of God cooperation
For our future it is almost certainly best that we think of left and right brains as a partnership. Frankly, our future would look bleak without either the left or the right brain cognitive leadership. Also, I suspect that if the right and left brains can’t get along with one another, we are doomed to go through future cycles such as the Dark Ages and Renaissance.
The will of god is located in our right brain, and the will of humans in our left. The left brain is skilled at building our civilization; the right brain contains secrets of Life and has played the major role in guiding our species evolutionary history. The essence of Life comes to us through our right brain.
The left brain reasoning of man seems unable to run our civilization, by itself, without offending the right brain. This is a lesson we should have learned when the left brain of Rome ran out of control and the right brain came back to put us in our place. Too much human control results in the sins of the flesh. The greediness and selfishness of humans become exposed. On the other hand, too much control by the right brain (God) results in lack of ambition, drive, and civilization progress.
Following the banner of Life Truth (as in God or as in Eastern belief) is very good at enabling humans to work together within the group. Following the Life Truth emanating from our right brain also seems good at spreading the available resources rather evenly across a population. This was necessary when we were hunter/gatherers and when we evolved into larger city groups and even into the early civilizations. This is also the way in which human beings can live most harmoniously with nature. Each person takes no more than they need and each also feels duty and obligation to contribute to the group. This is also why religious strategy worked so well during the Dark Ages. The supra-structure of Western Civilization collapsed with the fall of the Roman Empire. Humans needed to survive with little.
To the extent that humans are constrained by a limited environmental space and with limited resources, the right brain survivalist leadership likely will best serve our species. Thomas Malthus (1766-1834) observed that, in nature, plants and animals produce far more offspring than can survive, and that humans too are capable of overproducing if left unchecked. Malthus concluded that unless family size was regulated, famine would become globally epidemic and eventually consume humans. He predicted that misery and famine would become a global epidemic. Malthus' view that poverty and famine were natural outcomes of population growth and food supply was not popular among social reformers who believed that with proper social structures, all ills of man could be eradicated. Pure right brain leadership in this situation would manage the situation in the natural and instinctual manner – just as it would be managed in animal groups. The right brain is a much better survivor than the left brain.
Malthus’ prediction has come partially true. There are many regions of the world today in which poverty and starvation are rampant. The areas of the world living in poverty are generally the same ones that have Truth-in-Life seeking civilizations. Is it because religion leads to that conclusion, or is it because religion is the best manner in which to cope with those conditions? It may not even matter which caused which, because they seem to naturally gravitate to one another.
Malthus did not envision the immense success of capitalism and science at harvesting the planet’s resources to meet human (ego) needs within Western Civilization. Because of this immense success that has occurred since Malthus’ time, misery and famine are not rampant in Western Civilization. This human-lead civilization is generating such a wealth of resources that consumerism and wealth accumulation are much more common than poverty. This is the work of the left brain. The left brain is capable of increasing the utility of the resources around us. Right now the left brain is guiding Western Civilization. For us to lead our species into the future we must use the strengths of our reasoning, but also listen to the right brain and keep it satisfied. Our species loses its orientation towards Life when the left brain is the only one steering.
Does the current situation of hunger in the world, global warming, land-locked agriculture, and limited oil and mineral resources lead us to conclude that we are headed towards a Malthusian condition?…….best managed by the right brain….. Or, can left brain-developed human technologies such as those of silicon chips, communications, travel, biotechnology, harvesting asteroid minerals, and the numerous other advancements of our Western Civilization avoid such an ending and offer us a land of plenty?
I, for one, believe that leadership of the human left brain is the better strategy for our collective future. In fact, that is what our Western Civilization is all about. Anyone who believes in our Civilization as the future leader must come to this same conclusion. (Please note the use of the word believe.)
There is a caveat….we must listen to the right brain. The right brain is who we are at our core. We should endeavor to understand our core as completely as possible – even though the very depths of the core will likely be inaccessible to human investigation. A marriage of theology, including all religions, with science could work in this direction. This could finally lead us to the realization that there is only one ultimate truth (God) in Life.
Western Civilization is betting on democracy and capitalism as systems of human organization. Democracy and capitalism seem to work very well. In an earlier chapter I expressed some concerns about whether the current implementation provides enough motivation towards meeting group needs and responsibilities. It is important to consider these issues. It is possible that a better understanding of the right brain as provided by theologians and scientists would help to resolve this problem.
History seems to have proven that democracy is a necessary companion to a left-brain-led civilization. Capitalism has not really yet passed such a test of time. I feel confident that democracy, probably in its purest form, is that for which we must strive…..worldwide. I also suspect that the same is true for capitalism.
Since the Renaissance, Western Civilization has made great strides at improving the implementation of democracy. The monarchies of Europe have been replaced. The imperialism and colonialism of the 18th and nineteenth centuries has ended and most acquired countries have now been given their freedom. Slavery has been abolished. Women, blacks, and other minorities have been given rights. We have made significant strides to decrease unfair discrimination.
We are not perfect, but the trends since the Renaissance all seem to be moving in the correct direction. Worse than our own errors of implementation has been our lack of involving the non-Western world in the future of humans.
The left brain is out of the bag and cannot be put back in. It needs to understand its partner in life so that they can dance together.