There are many unanswered questions in a society that for the last 250 years has focused above all on rationality.
How could we devalue and dissociate ourselves from these issues of such importance? So we must ask ourselves how to integrate reason with our personal assets and optimise our weaknesses to an acceptable level of functioning.
Disciplines like History, Anthropology and Sociology can certainly give us answers from very useful perspectives. Fortunately, neuroscience has captured the attention of the Humanities and from this collaboration new narratives about our nature are integrating what until recently was considered useless, futile, "feminine" and sentimental. In essence, science is telling us what we could already grasp from myths and metaphors. Science is like a letter sent to all parts of the world, without the need for translation. Even so, we often lack the words and syntax to express ourselves in a rapidly changing and challenging world.
We perceive, feel, imagine, analyse and recover from memory, creating memories of the future with stories we tell ourselves. What story are we telling about the future? What kind of script are we revealing to our personal brain and the collective?
For a while, technology seemed to be the liberator from suffering and the enabler of humanity's ambitions. We relied on each new advance to solve our deepest problems. In fact, technology has enabled extraordinary achievements for our species in many different fields of our existence. However, if it is true that it has reduced human suffering, on the other hand, by overvaluing Reason, it has also caused new imbalances and given rise to new sources of suffering, not only human but also environmental.
Our stories are old stories recycled. We have seen the devastation of trees on islands where magnificent stone figures convey the idea of the struggle for survival. We know of apocalyptic times, where scientific ignorance has set humans to deal with pandemics through superstition.
How can we do better now?
Even in these highly technological times of ours, this pandemic is still a "sharp problem" because it came by surprise, it has become global and is forcing us to reflect and change our habits. It is causing suffering, but it is also opening the system to change and to the emergence of new and more efficient solutions to our challenges.
If we look at the way we deal with our own health, we may be tempted to think that a technological solution will save us. As the signs of suffering come into our consciousness, we as human beings can draw on our powerful intentionality in order to counteract the real imbalances in individual and collective health systems. But how often do we ignore the signs, disguising the dysfunction with superficial layers of dormant solutions?
We need to marry the great advances of science and technology with our conscious intentionality and filter our impulses and strengths to fulfil a purpose. This is what gives us motivation, energy and resilience. But if we continue to use science and technology to get rid of symptoms, allowing the process of imbalance to remain unchecked, free to continue damaging, we are only charting the path towards other, perhaps even more destabilising, 'pointy problems'.
The plane of politics unfolds in too short a time frame to allow any real evolution of our humanistic and social purpose. As primitive brain programmes continue to dominate the stage of our beliefs and values, things like power struggles, profit-driven business, hoarding impulses and mindless competition will continue to move freely in our societies, weakening the true principles of democracy and humanism.
Institutions need to co-evolve alongside the development of the interiority of individuals. We need to develop Emotional Intelligence from early childhood, throughout primary school and university. We need to complement pregnancy monitoring with mindfulness training or other trainings in self-awareness and self-regulation. This form of intelligence is what allows us to be aware of deep-rooted primitive impulses, recognising them for what they are: merely human impulses that do not need to be acted upon. Only then can we enhance healthier and stronger relationships, able to respect the other and also to resist uncertain times.
With training we can marry reason with emotional regulation. By integrating these powerful human tools we open hope for a more balanced and successful future.