Humanity vs the human

The world is in the grip of a pandemic. In many ways, it tests the systems that have come into existence through the cultural development of humanity. To some extent, it may even be testing its survivability.

If humanity were still in the process of biological evolution, the outcome of the test would simply be determined by the survival-of-the-fittest criterium. But humanity has moved beyond mere biological evolution. It has developed culture.

Culture provides a mechanism that can circumvent the threats posed by the environment, even when humans are not the “fittest.” A culture can adapt much faster than the genome. The pandemic is testing the fitness of culture as a mechanism for survival.

The world consists of many different cultures. Each culture provides various systems, including those responsible for government, finance, education, health and so forth. All these systems must work together to provide the protection for the people of these cultures during times such as these.

We live in a time where the cultures of the world have started to merge. The information obtained through research and the technologies that are developed are shared among all the cultures. The benefit of cooperation is obvious. For any single culture to survive, it is necessary that all of humanity survives.

While the picture of the world in terms of cultures may give a positive view of humanity’s prospects, it does not reveal the negative side. For this picture to prevail, these cultures need to be healthy. Here lies the problem.

A culture transcends the mechanism of biological evolution in that it cares for the individual members of the culture. The golden rule “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” forms the foundation for civilization. It allows people to live and work together to enable the development of culture and to achieve the great works that are associated with it.

At some point, it was decided that the golden rule is not enough. Individuals need more protection. So people introduced the notion of “human rights” and even call them “fundamental.” The idea makes sense, but begs the question of a culture that is at least moderately civilized. Within the context of the golden rule the concept of human rights can work.

But the world contains many communities where the cultural development is either lacking or has decayed to the point where the golden rule is not part of culture. In such situations, human rights provides a platform from which a community can be terrorized. The individual is elevated above the community. The result is a general breakdown of culture and a return to the survival of the fittest scenario.

Examples of this breakdown becomes prevalent. People oppose the attempts of governments to contain the spread of the virus. In some cases, these situations become violent. It threatens the culture’s ability to protect.

Human rights have a place in culture, but it must be placed in balance with the protection of the community. The individual human is not more important than all of humanity. How this balance should work and be implemented is not clear to me at the moment. But I’m sure the thinkers of our time can come up with some ingenious ideas.

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Take on me

Early in the morning I would wake up and the first thing I do is to turn on the radio. Depending how early I woke up, I could be lying there listening to the music for up to an hour before getting ready to go to work. So, one morning not too long ago I heard this cover of Take on me, the 80’s song by A-ha. And I like it.

The original

So I was thinking would I have liked it as much as I did if it did not know the original. I like the original song, but I don’t mind the covers. And boy oh boy are there covers of Take on me.

I took to the internet to try and find out who is singing this cover. No success. There are just too many. Some are better than others, but I like most of them. Why?

One of the covers

Does it not spoil the original to have all these covers of the amazing song? No, I don’t think so. See, that’s how culture works. It is all about being human and remembering things and making connections. The connections evoke some sense of beauty in us. It is a way our instinctive nature rewards us for recognizing something, because by being able to recognize things we enhance are ability to survive. OK maybe it is a bit more sophisticated than that. It is probably not very romantic to think of it in terms of the cogs and ratchets anyway.

Doesn’t matter. It’s all about the emotions. Songs are good at communicating emotions. When these songs are so strong that they lead to covers, then their ability to convey emotions are that much stronger.

While I’m lying in my bed early in the morning and I’m hearing that song, I feel a connection with all those emotions. It make feel happy and ready to face the world.