Three important characteristics separate human beings from other living creatures: The ability to think, the desire to create based on thought, and the ability to realize this in the material world. In my opinion, these abilities lead human beings to believe they are the unquestionable masters of the world.
How did human life begin in the world? No one has been able to answer this question yet. Nevertheless, we can talk about a chronological order of events regarding the development of what we call civilization, based on existing documents and archeological findings. Leaving the historical chronology to others, I want to talk about this “unquestionable master” with a story that I created myself.
In The Beginning…
Human beings initially ate fruits, berries, and vegetables that grew in the soil or on bushes and trees. One day, however, a man was forced to fight an animal that attacked his child. Lifting a heavy stone, he swung it through the air and threw it toward the animal. Afraid and injured, the animal retreated in pain. The man took another stone from the ground and swung it in the air with fury and fear. The animal, which was in great pain, became even more aggressive. The animal put aside the child, its initial prey, and made a leap toward the man who had dared to attack. The man became more afraid. He felt fear through his entire body. He suddenly felt a sense of dread like never before. He lifted the heaviest stone he could find and threw it forward with an inhuman strength derived from his fear—the fear he had never experienced before this incident. At the time, he didn’t think about it, because his sole aim was to chase this animal away and continue to survive. He had thrown all the stones in order to survive. He threw yet another stone. The animal hesitated a little. It was really hurting by this stage. After a short while, it made another desperate leap toward the man. It was probably attacking out of fear rather than hunger at this point.
As he retreated, the man threw another stone at the animal. Meanwhile, the child, who was lying on the ground, pulled himself together and stood up. He looked at his father. Because his father was his role model, he felt the need to imitate him. He also grabbed a stone from the ground and joyfully threw the stone at the desperately aggressive animal. Finally, a large heavy stone hit the animal sufficiently hard that it fell down, made whimpering noises, and then died.
The father and son were very pleased because it was the first time they had defeated and killed such a strong animal. The father did not say to his son, “I would never have thought of killing it if it hadn’t attacked you.” Instead, he embraced his son with the enthusiasm of victory and said, “You see, we are stronger than the animals. From now on, we don’t need to be afraid of them.”
That first stone changed the course of humanity, because it resulted in people starting to link weapons with courage. Afterwards, the man started carving sharp edges into his stones to make them more lethal. One day, after killing another animal in order “to protect himself,” he became carried away with feelings of fury and cut the animal into pieces with his stone knife. This way, human beings became acquainted with the art of war.
He felt hungry after his exertions, but there were no edible fruits or berries to be seen. He had seen carnivorous animals eat meat many times, so he figured maybe he could eat animal flesh as well. He took a small bite. It was difficult to chew, and the taste did not resemble anything he had eaten before. He chewed the meat with difficulty and finally swallowed it. He took another bite, then another. When he was full, he felt a sort of joy. He gathered the remaining meat and started running home.
He felt nauseous on the way home, because his body was rejecting this strange new food. Suddenly, he felt sick, and he involuntarily bent over and threw up. He had never vomited before, and it scared him. He collapsed on the ground and waited until he felt better. After pulling himself together, he returned home with his plunder. He told his family about his experience, saying how delicious the meat was. He neglected to mention the part about throwing up. He didn’t want his wife and his children to see him as strange. He ordered all of them to eat the meat. They ate, vomited, and ate again later. They continued the cycle of eating and vomiting until their bodies accepted the meat. Human beings became acquainted with eating meat.
In Need for Love in a Cave
A warrior/hunter wanted his wife to be warm in the cold, so he picked up the bow and arrow he had fashioned to make hunting easier and set off. He killed a deer, the most harmless and least dangerous animal in the forest. He had done this many times, because it was a very easy task to accomplish. Usually they only used the meat of this animal, but this time he had other intentions. He approached the dead animal and removed its fur, which he proudly gave to his wife as a present. He proposed eating its meat for supper. He did not even apologize to the deer for this. From now on, his wife would not feel cold or hungry. Furthermore, after ensuring she would be warm and full, she would love him more.
This warrior/hunter had discovered a new way to make his wife love him more, and he was very happy about it. His wife covered herself with the fur and felt warm. She wanted to thank her man. She prepared dinner for him, but this time the food she prepared was more delicious than ever. On the high stone at the front of the cave, she spread large leaves. She had not even bothered to ask the trees for permission to collect them, but the stone looked delightful. Later, she placed the wooden bowls that her husband had carved on the stone table decorated with leaves. The family never expressed gratitude for the food in the wooden bowls. This time the bowls were full with the flesh of the deer, which had actually been killed for its fur.
The woman was so busy making her husband happy that she simply forgot about the deer, which was part of the same whole and should have been honored because it sacrificed itself to warm and feed them. Nor did she honor the fruits or vegetables. That night, they ate their meal. The man was content because he had warmed his wife, and the woman was content because she had prepared a delicious dinner for her husband. They were very happy. In the morning, they woke up with stomach cramps. For some reason, they felt heavy.
Similar events occurred in other homes over the next few days. Every male began to believe he should warm his wife, while every woman began to think it necessary to show appreciation to her man by making him happy with new things. With the exception of some couples, they all began to benefit from the riches of the world, but they forgot to express their gratitude for these riches. Gradually, more people woke with stomach pains each morning. More and more people experienced intestinal problems. However, none of them tried to understand the reason behind this.
Did everything begin like this? I certainly don’t know—it is merely speculation. This or other similar steps may have started the competition between human beings. What is important is not how it began, but where a life based on separateness, rather than unity, is taking us.
More Love, More Appreciation
The approach based on logic like, “My deeds need to be more special and more beautiful to ensure my spouse is happier,” became so widespread that human beings began to wait for appreciation and compliments from others, so they could feel important and worthy. Each new deed quickly became old news, and there was a constant need for new discoveries. This forced humans to think constantly of new ways to court more love and appreciation. The desire to be liked and loved led to the desire to look more elegant, more graceful, and more beautiful than others did. Finally, the barter system used in trade was no longer useful. It was possible to exchange wheat for rice, but it needed large amounts of wheat to buy a dozen meters of fancy cloth, which could be used to prepare a garment more special than anything else. Furthermore, what if the tailor needed tomatoes rather than wheat? Finally, money was invented.
It became necessary to work harder and create additional resources for bigger, more beautiful houses and fancier dresses. The philosophy of “everything is for my spouse” was gradually replaced by the philosophy of “everything is to rise collectively.” The majority of people were no longer satisfied with the appreciation and compliments from their spouses. The less they loved and appreciated themselves, the more they needed to be liked by other people. Now it was necessary to be more courageous, more wealthy, more knowledgeable, and more of everything. Almost everyone was unhappy, but no one was able to express this lack of happiness. Everything they did not want to become was limited to the phrase more unhappy.
Footsteps of “Civilization”
Finally one day, one of them said he did everything for humanity, rather than for his wife or himself. He said, “If I am able to produce more, it is for the entire society rather than my family. What I produce makes you happier, fuller, and more at peace.” Interestingly, the dozens of people who worked for him, for very low wages, did not oppose his statement. Later his statement became an approach appreciated and encouraged by almost everyone in society. Several individuals refused to participate in this game, as they had from the beginning of time, but thousands, both children and adults, were not able to understand that this approach would eventually destroy moral values, so they voluntarily became part of this vicious cycle. Despite the fact that all of them knew deep down that their desire to become more successful stemmed from their desire to receive more love and appreciation, none of them had the courage to say this out loud.
They used up their local resources, so they searched for new resources. Instead of fishing, they sent ships to discover new ports and bring new riches. The human who had killed the deer, without its permission, to warm his wife, was enslaved and force to work for people not as “civilized” as he was.
After this period of filling many stomachs, the exploited societies began to consider that they were being treated unjustly. In small, scattered groups, they began to object to their exploitation. Soon, an uprising lit the fire of freedom inside all members of the society. The exploiters, under pressure, freed their slaves one by one, but freeing them was not such a loss. When the exploiters returned to their happy homes, they reflected proudly on how they had taught the others the values of modern life. They knew they had strongly implanted the awareness of separation in those who had gained their freedom. It would not be difficult to find new methods to exploit these poor people with more subtle methods. The continuing exploitation depended on persuading every person that whatever was done was right. It was time for such a flow to begin.
A World Just for Humans
So, the phrase everything is for society was replaced with everything is for humans. This was the beginning. Moral values almost totally disappeared, and the collective rise of humans became the most important goal. The other creatures that shared the world with us were perceived as resources that existed to serve humans. People collected flowers and placed them in vases, and before they even died, they replaced them with new ones. The massacre of animals during hunting parties became an ordinary and natural part of everyday life.
Human beings increasingly felt worthless and inadequate. A person’s worth was determined by his productivity within the society. Even large amounts of gold, which had already been replaced by banknotes, was not enough to become influential among certain circles. Those who were not aristocrats began to play incredible games, so they could purchase titles with the help of money and power. Robberies, briberies, and other skullduggery were allowed as long as they elevated the person to a higher class. Despite the fact that certain people could climb to the higher classes, the majority remained on the fringes of society.
Everything was for humans, so logically, humans should also exist for humans. To use others for personal desire gradually became a rising virtue in the degenerated society. To exploit human beings—especially in ways that allows others to benefit from them as well—was viewed as a most virtuous act. After all, humans existed for humans. If he were not so stupid, he would not let you exploit him.
Before long, the misconception that everything was for humans became a statement that conquered almost all hearts. It became increasingly important that every step taken be for the sake of elevating and developing human beings, rather than humanity. The entire system began to undergo restructuring. New laws, new research programs, and new approaches. It was as if a new way of life was being created. Everyone erroneously believed that resources, which were being used jauntily, would never end. Those who used the resources said, “Human life is important, and the protection of human life is an obligation,” and continued to secretly exploit human beings. A section of society became so uncomfortable with this exploitation that it made efforts to establish new systems through revolutions. The revolutions then led to the establishment of new forms of exploitation. Instead of revolution, wiser societies tried softer methods that were difficult to distinguish and only served specific sections. Statements related to human rights, labor rights, women’s rights, and children’s right began to be heard everywhere. Each faction blamed the other. They began to find new reasons to blame each other and show how other factions were worthless, even killing members of other factions. Nongovernmental organizations, which promised services in various fields, began to blossom everywhere.
The Rise of Darkness
The unions began to define their members as the working class to protect the rights of laborers. The union leaders brought about class discrimination with their statements while supposedly waging a struggle to achieve better rights. Eventually, a union mafia was established.
The doctors said that human health was the most important thing. They developed brand-new diagnostic methods with modern tools. Because no one said, “If you had developed the best, you would not need to research for something better,” new diagnostic tools appeared every single day. Because health was the most important and valuable goal, huge amounts of resources had to be allocated to this field. Because pharmaceuticals were needed to treat health issues, this sector also received its share of the cake. This way the medicine mafia was established.
The lawyers talked about the supremacy of the law, and they used ambiguous man-made laws to oust the various mafias. They ensured the release of many who had committed serious crimes by using the ambiguities, so they became rich and “respectable.”
Journalists who could not find sensational news under the motto of freedom of information began to fabricate reports. They did not hesitate to launch slander campaigns against others. This became so widespread that there was no longer a need to say, “Oops, this is wrong. We apologize.” This developed into the tabloid press. Almost everyone wanted to know about the lives of famous people. They began to follow famous people and to publish their lives. They continued to hide behind the justification of the public interest. Printing and broadcasting every little thing these people did became so popular that celebrities in need of promotion began inviting these press members to the doors of their houses.
Social advisers talked about rights for women and children, but behind closed doors, they exploited those who asked for assistance. In addition, they avoided explaining where they spent their donations. These institutions threatened those who asked too many questions, and then they continued doing what they wanted.
The number of these institutions and organizations gradually increased. As they encouraged the awareness of separation rather than the awareness of unity, human beings began to change and return to their most primitive state. From now on, the statement that everything was for human beings was of no importance. Individuals once again began to think, “I want to exist. I want to gain respectability. I should use every resource I can to this end.” And so the era of “everything is for my personal development” began.
The Era of Personal Development
Centers that taught various personal-development methods began popping up everywhere. A new sector had emerged. Furthermore, this was an “elite” sector that provided services to those who aimed to enjoy a strong position in society with a high income. Institutions that provided therapies in fields such as Yoga, Meditation, Reiki, Shiatsu, Tai Chi, and Aikido were established in every corner. Despite the fact that the individual in society was their main theme, their promotions put forward the theme of living in the awareness of unity. Indians and Tibetans, considered primitive and backward for many years, were suddenly introduced as the wisest people in the world.
The medical profession, considered one of the most important professions for many years, was suddenly considered worthless. Modern medicine was replaced with something described as alternative and complementary medicine. It was as if this constituted an alternative to modern medicine, or as if these methods had been recently discovered.
Teachers, builders, butchers, farmers, fishermen—basically everyone—hid behind the statement that everything was for humans and exerted efforts to further their personal wealth. Instead of educating children, schools began training children to pass prescribed tests instead. Fishermen started using methods that were unsustainable. Butchers butchered animals in unhealthy places and sold their flesh. Builders built buildings with inadequate materials and sold them for excessive prices. Farmers used excessive amounts of chemicals to grow more crops. There is no doubt many more examples to demonstrate each and every social characteristic.
Even if the economy classes given in the universities supposedly supported the participation of society in production as well as development, the first thing that was taught in these lessons was that resources were inadequate and something else is charged for everything that is used. In addition to the view of self-inadequacy unconsciously held by humans, the understanding that everyone else is also inadequate became stronger.
Under these circumstances, there was only one thing to do: Obtain a large share of the existing resources and hoard them until all other resources were exhausted. This approach was the natural outcome in a society that acted obliviously to its finite resources. There was no doubt that such an approach would have its own consequences.
For the Sake of the Whole
All the resources that could have been used later by those aware of the “lack of abundance” were taken from the pool. Because these were hoarded in secret stockpiles, the shares from the growing cake became smaller. All eyes turned toward the appetite-whetting and apparently nonexistent part of the cake. As a result, a new product was brought to the fore and production was encouraged constantly. Technology developed at a speedy rate, and thousands of products that facilitated life, but were unimaginable a century ago, were marketed to meet the need. These products tempted the appetites of those who hid their resources and encouraged them to take their wealth out of their boxes
It is possible to describe all these developments as good or bad, depending on your own standpoint. If your standpoint included tolerance and good intentions, you would say, “If we had become aware of separation and the lack of abundance, we would not have experienced so much distress, although we would not have all these products that facilitate life either.” Alternatively, if your standpoint lacks tolerance and good intentions, you would say, “If we had always been aware of abundance and unity, we would have been so happy that we would not have needed all this anyway.”
There is also a middle path, which is the path taken by those who, instead of purchasing respect and love, have always known they are valuable and lovable. These people would never choose another course anyway. They have walked on the same road since the first day of human existence to reach their current place. These people had been a minority in Western society for many years. Their numbers also gradually decreased in eastern society. Now they have begun saying, “Everything is part of the whole, and everything exists for the sake of the whole.” These people probably never acquired riches of money and property. Maybe they never had a powerful position in society. Maybe their spouses were not appreciated as much as their neighbors’ spouses were. Still, they never abandoned the motto of “everything is for the sake of the whole.”
I believe that compared to the others, these people enjoy more love and happiness. They accept the blessings of modern life with love and enthusiasm, and they continue to express gratitude for the food on their tables. Instead of living in high buildings that harm their health, they continue to live in small buildings that support their health, and they begin to bring up future generations with love and respect.
It is possible to adopt this middle course by melting all the extremes together in a pot and accepting that all resources belong to the whole.
Passing from individualism to integrity will enable you to hear the voice of your conscience and pass from the truth that you have learned to the facts that you have become aware of. Then the fisherman, the farmer, the doctor, the lawyer, the journalist, the teacher, the worker, the civil servant, and every other person from every profession will carry out the requirements of their professions for the sake of the whole, rather than for the sake of human beings, in the best possible way and without fear. Or will they?
Zeynep Sevil Güven
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