Why Humans — as Individuals, as Groups, and Nations — Repeatedly Make Faulty Decisions Against Our Self Interest — Unable to Profit or Learn from the Harm Done
Contributed by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD, DLFAPA
There must be a built in “goofiness” in our brain, side by side with our ingenuity and intellect, that defies rationality and self interest.
“The fault is not in the stars, dear Brutus! It is in ourselves,” as Shakespeare said.
An example for an individual: He keeps eating and gaining weight even though it is established that behind this action lies diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, and distress.
Similarly, our country was persistent in the war in Vietnam for 20 years, continually changing the slogans and “logical” explanations for it, while all along the continuance of that war, was it not irrational and grossly harmful to our country?
The question is not political; other nations or tribes do the same. England kept making wars in Afghanistan — four times in the 19th century — all with catastrophic results for both sides!
Similar examples are endless. The problem is that making such faulty decisions, harmful to us as individuals and as nations, can no longer be sustained. After all, the sticks and spears we used thousands of years ago, fighting each other as small bands in the African grasslands where we originated from, have now morphed into atomic bombs.
Using our planet as a sewer for harmful gasses that we create with our ingenuity is causing a looming catastrophe for the whole planet — for us, our children, and our grandchildren.
The answer for such “built-in goofiness” lies in the traits embedded in our brain that guide us to do things that were relevant for our survival “back then,” 200 -thousand years ago, and before – fighting for territoriality and food and resources. In fact these traits ensured our survival.
No longer! These very traits, because of circumstances we have created, are now in a catastrophic collision with modern developments. Worse, we have an aversion in studying these traits as they apply to our own selves — even though we are quick to blame the adjoining nation tribe or fellow human. It has been to our advantage to scream while pointing at the mote in the neighbors’ eye, than to pay attention to the stick in ours! An example; Following the recent tragedy of San Bernadino; we were all quick to perceive and feel the horror and rage, including myself, for these ideological suicidal actions, where two newlyweds abandoning their daughter, killed fourteen innocent people in cold blood! And they killed themselves. Yet we are not able to perceive how it felt that we rained 200,000 bombs in ten years over the heads of the people in the country of the killers’ origin.
As I mentioned, this “blind spot in assessment and judgment ” has to be faced right-quick before our species, as well as the rest of our fellow living creatures, become extinct from this earth .
We have to change tack and learn cooperate with each other in solving problems and studying our “harmful goofiness,” both as individuals and nations; otherwise, we will surely go down together to our extinction along with the rest of living things. All religions have offered a solution, of which in Christianity it is outlined in Corinthians 1:13. These teachings for all religions are fast becoming the only solution for our continuous presence on this earth.
There is hope! Already awareness for these problems have already increased in the world. The beginning of collective actions for many are being taken, like the climate control decisions in recent meetings in Paris. We may make it, given time. Unfortunately, time is something we may not have.
Please, next time in your free contemplative time, think about these things, I do that often myself.
Copyright © 2016 by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD
For more information on Dr. Pediaditakis and his Raleigh NC mental health clinic, visit his Facebook page.
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