We weren’t born yesterday.

Like every living thing on Earth, we have a long developmental history. All of us, no matter our differences, have emerged from that history. We are all more human than otherwise. We are all more alike than otherwise.

We emerged in a context, we developed our similarities and differences in a context, and we have lived in a context guided by our own strivings but determined by the exigencies of our environmental context.

That has always been true. It would still be true today and into the future if individual hubris had not supplanted communal living. We have ignored the un-ignorable fact that our lives are subject to the conditions provided by the natural environment. Eskimos do not go walking on the ice, nude.

It is not only eternally true for living things on Earth, but would be self-evident to humans if we only looked.

We live in an era when many humans have invented the delusional belief that they are masters of the universe. Incredibly, the “masters” have changed the formerly immutable laws of nature. World-trashing humans believe that an all-powerful God gave them dominion over the Earth, allotting to them the right to untrammeled rule.

When the Earth’s physical and animal environment presented great danger to human life, people gathered into tribes, living mostly cooperatively. Slowly, as wealth became collectible and warfare became the tool of the wealthy, the “masters of the universe” concept began to grow.

Living outside the natural order replaced living respectfully within the natural order. Living in cities limited the possibility of staying in touch with nature. Great nations subjugated their people by making industry the means by which people gained their sustenance. It required people to become dependent on men rather than on nature.

The only value the Earth has for the self-perceived elites is its seemingly unlimited wealth-creating resources. To an increasing degree, the striving for wealth and power is enslaving the Earth and most of its people. Today we see the inevitable consequences of the failure of cooperation and the investment in power struggles by individuals for whom nothing is ever enough.

The exploitation of people and the Earth itself, embedded in short-term goals and without regard for consequences, has polluted air and water, altered the Earth’s climate, littered space and is making large areas of Earth uninhabitable.

Technology has further debased human life by creating robots to do work, by glamorizing the invention of stunning miniature devices, by making amazing medical discoveries that become back-breakers for health insurance plans and by valuing abstract intelligence over emotional intelligence.

Stop! Enough! Unlimited competition in pursuit of individual wealth and power is destroying the better part of humanity in humans: love, trust, optimism, cooperation to achieve common goals and so much more.

The gates of aggression and cruelty have been thrown open by overwhelming fear that others will obliterate values and ways of living that have existed for generations. The gridlock within and among nations exists because the smallest hint of willingness to compromise is interpreted by elites as the prelude to disaster.

The present human trajectory is self-destructive. It has the potential to end in universal horror.

We have forgotten that, unlike life on Earth, human nature has not evolved much, if at all. We know what human nature requires: fresh air to breathe, clean water to drink, safe shelter, productive work as well as gentler emotions of love and trust.

Born totally helpless, humans must cope with existential anxiety that threatens persistently for their entire lives. Security may be the most fundamental need of humanity.

The goal of life must be to enhance human life. Unlimited competition among self-serving individuals will always lead to our current impasse. There are no masters of the universe. They are only people who eat, defecate and die while striving throughout life to deny their anxiety and other human frailties.

Cooperation, shared responsibility, devotion to each other and respect are as much a part of human nature as exploitation and war. The two cannot exist together in peace. We have tried to live with both and failed.

We must choose.

Hubert Kauffman, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist. His writings about politics and motivation are informed by his clinical experience.

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