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Will Our Collective Ignorance Kill Us?

Aug 17, 2007
With three pounds of matter, called the brain, the human race has gained complete dominion over all of life on this planet. It has discovered the raw power of steam and used it to create the industrial revolution. It has discovered the raw power of splitting the atom and used it to create its own nightmare. It has discovered how to prolong and improve human life and this will result in a population explosion, where the rate of the human race doubles every forty years. Ironically, the great gift of humankind, superlative intelligence, may be the cause of its demise.

The solution, paradoxically, is more intelligence. Intelligence has to move from the few to the many. Literally, a new race has to emerge to keep civilization, even earth life as a whole, alive past this century.

The analogy often used is that most people are asleep, while others, those who are noticing the collapse of the environment and the coming storm, are said to be awakening. What does this really mean?

Perhaps, it means that most people, stuck in habituated or conditioned thought, are not capable of rising to a place where they can contribute anything more than resistance to the idea of the change that needs to happen.

Another analogy might work better.

The Internet is an artificial global brain. Theoretically, it allows anyone to contact anyone else. Those who use this medium to learn and communicate are "online." They are part of the aggregate of humanity that can share a community.

The rest of the world, either due to lack of interest or insufficient economic resources, are living in a more local environment. They are said to be "offline." They only know and communicate based on immediate stimulation.

As you can imagine, there is a huge disparity between the two populations. Those online have any kind of information available to them literally at their fingertips. Those offline have very little information to work on. The result is a growing disparity between the human race. Those who are informed and those who are not.

Similarly, in regards to the human race, only a small number are even aware that the world as a whole is in jeopardy. They have a poor knowledge of history, and do not realize how fortunate humanity was to have survived the dictators and the escalation of raw military power that emerged in the past century. They also have a poor knowledge of science, and do not realize that there is enough raw power to blow up the world eleven times over. Finally, they have a poor knowledge of social issues, ranging from pollution to self-seeking political and economic organizations.

The reason that they do not have this knowledge is because they do not think it is important. In many cases, too, they may not have access to this knowledge. In the past, the general ignorance of the masses did not matter that much. This was because there was never such a pressing need to create worldwide consensus on many issues, there was never a pressing need to reorganize and reprioritize human interests, and there was never the open possibility of general ignorance becoming deadly.

While it is not necessary to become a savant; it is necessary to become more intelligent, which means less conditioned, less ill-informed, less self-oriented, and less apathetic. A critical mass of intelligent people is necessary before the tide turns. Compassion and genius will not flourish in an atmosphere of indifference and confusion.

How can we make the upgrading of intelligence an important agenda for human beings?

We can improve the quality of all our media presentations, from print media to Television to Radio to movies to be less focused on trivial entertainment and more on providing meaningful messages. We can upgrade the educational institutions all over the world, from the model that is currently operating, which is still based on the ideas of the industrial revolution. And we can take individual responsibility and try to read more, understand more, communicate more.
About the Author
Saleem Rana would love to share his inspiring ideas. His book Never Ever Give Up tells you how. It is offered at no cost as a way to help YOU succeed. http://www.theempoweredsoul.com
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