We are even now constantly selecting for such combination of genes that would enhance and perpetuate just this. As getting married and having kids is high in priority for people who decide early that they want what their parents had, nothing more, nothing less and nothing different (other than technology).
Working as a volunteer for the rights of adivasis or minorities, discovering a drug, appear far, far down in the list of approved activities, if they appear at all, leaves little time to procreate and perhaps doesn’t go very well with good parenting- and therefore if there are ‘altruistic’ genes that make a heart break looking at someone else’s plight- they are going to be lost to the population in general. Acceptable life demands being selfish, as your family, your kids and your life must come first as duty. In this life, there is no room for ‘bad’ things that hurt you and yours and that includes any repercussions of your actions that may have made thousands homeless and some more victimized.
What about dealing with the certainty of death? In the US, death is considered to be bad, in fact any american reading this, will probably exclaim, who doesn’t think death is bad? And how could it not be bad? In giving the ‘acceptable’ life to those who can afford it, we nonchalantly, or unknowingly or regretfully and even perhaps reluctantly deal a unpalatable life to the others, who are rarely seen and never heard.
For them, death could be preferable. Abject poverty amidst a state of complete chaos and no respect for life or the living, for honor is not acceptable, but millions of people globally continue to live it. Where one is realistic and still ‘human’ enough to know that there is no way out. No light at the end of the tunnel. Or when life has taken every glimmer of hope or happiness. When you have no home, no family and the option is to kill others and join the army of a tyrant to survive or perish at the hand of another 9 yr old – 19 yr old- if the nine year old has ever known real love, he/ she would probably prefer to die than live such a jaded life. The operative phrase being ‘known real love’. Clearly, if you have not, then you can be taught to believe anything, fly any flag, kill any one, and hate everything. This is why the terrorist camps work. I don’t think there is any coming back to a normal life for the kids who have lived there since they were toddlers or younger. Hatred fills voids like nothing else can.
If by some form of miraculous therapy they do realize that all they ever thought and felt was simply the extension of a deranged, fanatic, no matter how much that person appeared to be close to godliness.. They would be more dead than alive. And what would we have saved, then? I am all for life, never anyone doubt that. But it has to be one that I could live, or anyone could live with a modicum of self-respect and honor and most importantly hope.
Then again death is important for the obvious matter of matter- maintaining the cycle of nutrients and life.
In fact, the charm of life is that it won’t last forever. Otherwise, what little motivation people have, to be a better person, learn a little more, see or think or do more, would be successfully procrastinated to never getting done. All these are options for people who have started the normal ‘acceptable’ life of course.
I do believe that most cultures, living close to nature have a much higher acceptance of death. It doesn’t make them uncivilized. According to me, that is something to emulate.
Many religions also view death as bad, apocalypse promises to kill all the non- believers while a special chariot lifts the believers to the heavens above, to be one with God. Others escalate death in the name of a religious empowerment as a sure shot way to eternal happiness. But then, I don’t believe God made religion anyway.
The other most socially approved act is to have children, the opposite or the beginning leading to death, depending on who is thinking about it. Someone once said that having a child is an act of very high optimism. One must be optimistic enough to believe in the best possible future for their children, obscuring all mishaps and unpleasantness that must have befallen them, while growing up. Perhaps magnifying the happiness children bring, to overshadow the essential sacrifices for bringing up children. We must be evolutionarily wired to achieve that level of obscuring as well. Or perhaps the need to be needed is powerful enough to overcome everything else.
So what is an individual’s contribution to society while living this acceptable life, children? some skilled labor? Is it overreaching to want to do something meaningful that outlasts your generation and want a family? Or is it even possible to do many things well? Bringing up children well, is no small task, somehow our parents managed it well enough, but as technologies bring in more negative forces to take away the innocence from our children, it is getting harder and harder. Maybe only in my imagination. But game-boy, definitely doesn’t make friends, or improve imagination, when a short answer to everything is easily available on the internet, why read a book? That has become acceptable, living a life where the only contribution to the world is the next generation of mostly similar in nature, but different in habit, people going through the daily grind.. Well, in some cases children do grow up to be great thinkers, who change what should be ‘acceptable’ and what not. I find it hard to accept that what we are participating in, is a kind of lucky draw, where everybody gets a consolation prize of having had children (if they participate), but there is very little likelihood of a real prize worthy of its name. No,no, I do not mean that children are not a prize, of course they are to us. What I mean is, objectively, they will grow up to replace us in a banal cyclical setting, that does not lead to any lasting meaning or substance.
Is that where, some socially incompetent geniuses come in, who are responsible for the few breakthroughs that can occupy whole generations in their repercussions? Who may never have had the acceptable form of life themselves..
The other, more sinister side of the consolation prize is, if you haven’t had time or the thought to read about everything that can affect your child, not limited to good parenting books ( and honestly, even if you thought you did the best), there are things that are beyond your control that make up a human life. Every time something bad happens to your child, you will blame yourself and not without reason. You may also have achieved the level of meaningful success in your field of choice, enough to be an expert who is valued, skilled and can keep up with all the new stuff with little effort and still bring up a well rounded human being ( or 3 well rounded human beings, and we are not talking about their weight here). To win some , you lose some, maybe you are not an expert for long- you are just a mediocre wage earning person, who values family. That is acceptable.
You could even be fictitious. And still not be able to change the course your children’s lives take, even when some great writer is actually writing about you. Even the writer needs turns and twists in the story, otherwise it is not a story. Perhaps that is why, it is acceptable to have a life that is outwardly straight forward, with average to mediocre levels of happiness, success and pitfalls, agony, heartbreak and disease. Some one is writing a story with all of us as characters, and it has got to have twists and turns..
So, here is hoping for an acceptable life to all of us who hold mediocrity in disdain and are trying to find out why they fall into that murky, black ocean-like body that has all the other mediocre people swimming in it.