Basic Orientation
Book1: R-E Living & "Homo Rationalis"
Acknowledgements
Introduction: Most Important Book
Basic Methods In This Book
The Three Exponential Changes
Basics: Determinants Of Behavior
Basics: Ethics
Rational-Ethical Anger Prevention
Rational-Ethical Child Rearing
Rational-Ethical Belief Management
Rational-Ethical Government
Rational-Ethical Religion
What The Reader Should Do
Book2: Humanianity
Book3: Mind-Body Problem
Book4: (Future Possible Development)
Child Rearing Issues
Philosophico-Religious Issues
Psycho-Socio-Cultural Issues
The Twelve Articles
Relevant Autobiography
 
"HOMO RATIONALIS" AND HUMANIANITY
 
HELPING TO PROMOTE OUR THIRD EXPONENTIAL CHANGE
 

WHAT THE READER SHOULD DO


Up until well into the writing of this chapter, I had assumed that its title would be "What the Reader Can Do." However, I have come to realize that this chapter is stating more than an existential belief about what is possible, but instead is advocating for what I believe we should do. This book is basically a religious book, concerned with how we should live our lives. Therefore, I have changed the title to the above.


If the reader has indeed read this book in the order in which it is written, and has now arrived at this chapter, I believe the reader is quite special. The reason that I believe this is that I have had the experience for several years of offering this developing book to individuals to read, with very little success. The reasons they have given for not reading the book have been quite varied and creative, but unconvincing. But why should this book indeed be so avoided that I have at times said humorously to others that I have created "the unreadable book"?


To me, the reason seems obvious. This book is saying something that few want to believe, namely, that we, including these non-readers, are just talking, hi-tech, angry chimpanzees, if we look at our potential, at who we can and should become, and at how awful our existence is compared to what it could be, and that the answer does not lie in getting others to live like us, but in getting ourselves to live like we really should.


In other words, this book is calling the reader to action, but that action is not to strive to change others, but to strive to change the self. The ultimate goal is for everyone to change, but we are talking about all of us changing to what we have never been.


The reader might well ask, "Well what is so hard to accept about that?"


I have found that the hardest part to accept of what I am writing about is the idea that we can indeed become drastically better than we are now, that we can stop doing all these terrible things, that we can indeed live much, much more optimally. I am told repeatedly that we will always be the way we are, because that is our "human nature." And why is it so important for people to have this seemingly rather pessimistic belief? I believe that the problem is what happens to us when we see something about ourselves as being less than optimal. In the terms of this book, to behave in a manner less than optimal is to make a mistake. And for us, making a mistake is often quite painful.


And we know why making a mistake is so painful. As pointed out in the chapter on Rational-Ethical Child Rearing, in our natural (authoritarian-ethical) model of child rearing, we punish children when they make mistakes, the idea being that if we make the making of mistakes adequately painful for the child, the child will avoid making them. The problem is that we are left with a strong tendency to feel pain, that is, to punish ourselves, when we believe that we have made a mistake. And the best way to avoid feeling that pain is to avoid believing that we have made a mistake. I assume that the reader has already observed the difficulty of attempting to help another person see that he or she has made a mistake, and has also observed the almost universal response to the acceptance of having made a mistake, namely, some verbalization of the fact that the person is experiencing some pain.


And as this book has attempted to convey, we humans have a second criterion for the legitimization of belief (in addition to accuracy), and that is comfort. So it is more comfortable to believe that, yes, we (especially "they") do indeed make mistakes, but that is our "human nature" ("to err is human"), and that since we can't do any better, we really don't have any reason to focus on the mistakes.


In other words, we use the depressive defense. We say that we will never be basically any better, so why distress ourselves by trying to make ourselves better? "This is as good as it gets." "We shouldn't be so hard on ourselves." "Nobody is perfect." So let's just not try.


And then we help each other out by agreeing with each other with regard to the beliefs that are most comforting. That set of agreed-upon beliefs is a part of our culture. We know the "right" way to live, the "right" things to believe. And we know that we have to protect our culture from outsiders who might try to change us, to destroy what we cherish. So we have to be loyal to our culture, and not do anything to weaken it. Those who choose to question it may be helped to see the error of their ways, but if they persist, then perhaps they should be avoided, ostracized, or even killed.


Of course, we see a gradual change toward "respect for diversity." We are seeing that we all have to share this planet, and that we are going to have to find ways to work together for the benefit of all of us, rather than continuing to fight for the ascendancy of our own cultures. So there is a growing tendency toward "live and let live." And in fact some of us are saying that we can indeed benefit by comparing our cultures to see what the basically good things are, without making the assumption that our own culture is the best. But this change is fairly recent and fairly small. And we tend to allow this kind of thinking primarily in those areas that do not encroach on our own sets of comforting beliefs too much.


So if the reader has indeed read this book in the order in which it is written, he or she has been willing to challenge all of his or her ideas at least to a certain extent, and in so doing is questioning his or her culture; and that, in my opinion, makes the reader special, certainly unusual.


But if the reader is really understanding how wonderful a future our species conceivably has, if it can accomplish getting beyond its basic animal nature, then I am assuming the reader is experiencing some obligation to try to bring this future about, even if he or she will not be around to see it. That certainly is my motivation in writing this "unreadable" book. If I can do anything at all to help our species achieve this better way of life any sooner, then I may be helping a large number of people experience much more joy, appreciation, and contentment, with much less pain, suffering, disability, and early death.


But the first question is whether the book is correct or not. The fact that I believe it is certainly is not much evidence that it is. As has been noted, we humans can believe essentially anything (and frequently do). So what should be done? Obviously, the ideas of the book should be subjected to the rules of logic and the rules of evidence. The brain being the way it is, thinking about something over a long period of time makes it easier and easier to do so. My brain has been thinking about all this for a very long time. So fresh brains are needed. The reader has one of these, and I hope that I am convincing him or her to become interested in this project.


So the reader is asked whether this book seems to make sense, that is, appears to be logical and seems consistent with what the reader has come to learn are the findings of our most meticulous examinations of the world, examinations that utilize the rules of logic and the rules of evidence.


If so, the reader can do two things that will help make the world a better place.


First, the reader can work on making his or her own living (decision-making) more optimal, utilizing the approaches given in the chapters on anger prevention, child rearing, and belief management (or any approaches that seem better). By doing so, the reader is not only directly making the world a better place for those within his or her sphere of influence, but is also modeling for identification such effort, making it easier for others to do likewise. To do so means repeatedly reading those chapters and devoting some effort to utilizing the concepts in them in order to understand, from a different perspective, our day-to-day problems and the solutions to them.


If the reader does do this, I believe he or she will notice certain changes in his or her personality. I believe that the most prominent and important change will be that of becoming less hostile and prone to anger. He or she will not take things as personally, so to speak, but will instead try to understand where the other person is coming from (what beliefs the other person has and what motivational states the other person has had to deal with). Thus, the reader will become much more understanding and much less judgmental. In addition, the reader will become much more accepting of criticism, and will indeed value and ask for feedback from others. And the reader will become much more able to engage in friendly debate, as described in this book, rather than avoiding discussion with others about certain topics and accompanying the exchange of ideas with hostility.


Second, the reader can advocate for the ideas in the book, and request others to help in the evaluation of those ideas by discussing them in small group situations. Setting up small groups for that purpose would be a way to do this, or mentioning the book and its ideas in appropriate, already ongoing small groups.


Asking others to review the book who are in especially important positions and are positively regarded by large numbers of people also would be increasing the likelihood that still others would do so.


Now if the ideas in the book do seem to make sense to small groups engaging in friendly debate, it is possible that communication between those groups could begin occurring, such as to initiate a "movement." And such a movement could indeed be exponential.


I wish to be clear about something, however. This "movement" could not at this time be a "political" one. What this book is about is how one lives one's personal life. It will only be much later, and only if such a "movement" really does catch on and continue to grow, that it will start affecting political processes. Political processes involve high level, societal decision-making, about which there is rightly much divided opinion. This book does not offer the answers to those questions. But it does offer some ideas about how to go about arriving at those answers and making those decisions, and as more and more people come to value those methods, then political processes will change.


This book in no way asks the reader to give up any political activity that seems right to him or her. This book asks the reader to take on an additional set of activities, if they make sense to the reader. This book first advocates that the reader develop his or her basic ethical philosophy and implement it through optimal living. This book then advocates that the reader advocate for such living, if indeed the reader believes that it is optimal. In these ways, the reader will be doing his or her part to make the world a better place within his or her sphere of influence and within the limitations of his or her capabilities. In this way, he or she will be promoting not only the survival of our species, but also the good life, for everyone, now and in the future.


I think that it is also important to keep in mind that if the above "movement" were to take place, it would only be a small part of a much larger movement, the third exponential change, that has already been occurring. This book is not advocating something brand new. It is not an attempt to start a new religion or a new government. It is an effort to call attention to something good that is already happening, and to invite individuals to join in. It is not a movement to confront evil in the world; it is a movement to become better and better, and to make things better and better. It is really a movement to make more explicit and understandable what it is that is happening, so that we can facilitate the process. The more precisely we can model a process with our symbols, the more effectively we can influence that process. And that is the effort of this book.


I do ask the reader what he or she wants to make of his or her life. At the end of his or her life, will the reader be pleased with what he or she has done with his or her life? I cannot imagine any better satisfaction than that which would come from my believing that, within the limits of my capabilities, I had done what I could to make the world a better place for everyone who was within my sphere of influence. I would have to acknowledge that, being imperfect, and having emerged from an infancy little different from that of a chimpanzee, I would have made many mistakes along the way. I would have to acknowledge that, being human, I had been formed by a culture that, itself, is still only a toddler, compared to what it may ultimately become. And although I recognize I will never see that mature culture that is being predicted in this book, and although I recognize that it might not even ever come to pass, I would at least believe that if it does indeed come to pass, I would have done my part to make it so. I cannot imagine a more satisfying way to conclude my life.


So now it is the reader's turn.