There isn’t a greater art and more of it needed at this time than of engaging with people. Engaging with people should be considered the end of all philosophy, systems of belief, or even the systems of society. When a person engages in thinking out solutions to issues or attempts to foresee the end of matters purely in the realm of thought, one may feel that the opportunities are limitless. Yes, it may certainly seem so. All the contemplation and expression, all of it taking place within the safety of a lonesome mind is indeed an exercise that opens up possibilities that seem to exist even outside the realm of reality. One can travel to places that really do exist, only to enhance them with a magic that could arise out of the imagination. The sky could turn blue, pink, green or become multicolor at the mere wish of the thinker. Not to say that such extravagance of beauty isn’t seen in nature. Such variety and life are evident in nature and to be present during an unfolding scene of such great beauty is a marvel unlike another. One finds oneself completely overcome by the offerings of nature. One might even forget to wish for more, for in the presence of the awesomeness of nature, there is the beholding of such wonders that none could possibly wish for a reality any superior to one there already is to experience. In all of this, there is one final realization. All of this beauty, this magnificence, possible within a person’s mind and evidenced in the mind of God through the works of nature would not mean as much if there is a failing among human beings to connect with other human beings. That should be the end goal of a philosophy or a system of thought – to make these connections harmonious and yielding continued peace.
Everything you can imagine is real.
As one looks around the earth today, our problems are not arising from the birds, fishes, animals or insects. At the microscopic and sub-microscopic levels, yes we may wish to exclude viruses from the list of creatures considered to be of any benefit to us. Nonetheless, these do exist and cause great sufferings as well. One can think of the time when we did not know of their existence, and perhaps we would consider our ignorance to be a blessing. Even with the understanding of the Zika or the Ebola, and laboratory manipulations, we have not bettered our existence; perhaps, only worsened our view and understanding of the world. Aside from the natural world, there are many of our accomplishments which count also as damages to our world. For this world we have made, we are very much responsible. The bridges, buildings, machines etc. are examples of the human courage, and also of a short-sightedness arising out of desperation or a sense of adventure.
A fundamentally kind view of people
Because we have been granted by technology and the Internet, such a vast overview of our world and particularly of mankind, there is a need to grasp our power in a way that will bring about a good, not a bad view. It is possible that every single person who deeply looks at the history and mass of humanity, albeit mistakenly at the exclusion of all the remaining creatures, will feel a period of being overwhelmed. This overwhelming sensation is the result of honest reflection. From within mankind itself has arisen the evil that cannot be justified purely from a secular understanding, for one can explain evil ideas and actions arising out of a few, but the way entire societies can mobilize to evil ends based on beliefs is a phenomenon not to be discounted.
Given all of this, is it not simply naive to be optimistic about mankind? No. It is not. The freedom granted mankind and the ability to choose are the assets all of mankind have been given. In the absence of courage, we could possibly not benefit from these. In the presence of courage, much could still be done. The evidence of such courage need not be in the form of participating in some grand battles among us, but quite simply in the taking of a view based on kindness toward other. When one looks more deeply at mankind or even toward individuals, there is undoubtedly the reason for disappointments. Especially when we measure all or anyone by our own perfect standards, no one could possibly come off a winner.
Kindness in words creates confidence.
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.
Kindness in giving creates love.
~ Lao Tzu
The kindness we are willing to extend to people cannot be on the basis of something superficial. If it is on the basis of superficiality that we extend kindness, our kindness would also be superficial. However, if the kindness is on a deeper, spiritual basis, then the kindness has a staying power and a permanence. The realization that all humans have been granted a life by the Creator, and that the Creator alone has the final, absolute power of judgment, then it becomes possible to see the intrinsic worth of each one. When one fails to see this, there is a failure to see the worth of others as well. In this general view by which, one sees all mankind in particular, as the recipient of life from the Divine, there is a comforting basis for kindness. Even though this kindness starts to break down when one gets into the role of individual examinations and judgments, it is simply better to step back and away from such an overwhelming breakdown and take a more comprehensive view.
Emphasis on a way of thinking rather than on specific thoughts about people
Philosophy and the philosopher will naturally increase in specificity and detail the longer the pursuit continues. When all the powers of the mind are concentrated narrowly onto a subject – be it a matter of concern or a person – details will start to emerge. See anywhere, be it art or music or the medical sciences, this is what continues to happen. This is evidence of the analytical nature of man, and it can also be found to function at a very high, almost to a faulty level, in some individuals. By some mysterious flaw in human thinking, it seems to function more toward a tendency to find faults than to find what is good. Some would call this fault, sin. By it, there is a propensity for seeking and finding the flaw. Turned toward oneself, it leads to a loss of self-respect; turned toward others, it leads to a loss of respect for others. Invariably, it always ends up in a certain bitter cynicism. Cynicism too could be defensible, if the person or the people holding this power can be responsible to balance it through a basically kind outlook.
Not committing to a single-level view about humanity
It is neither reasonable nor desirable to have a single-level view of humanity. There is a need for flexibility. What is a single-level view? It is the rigidity of committing oneself to a view that has forsaken the ability for complexity. Don’t we see how mankind offers limitless complexity? We do. We also understand that we wish to maintain peace among us, for peace imparts the quality of permanence. When peace continues, there is the prospect for individual and social growth. There is the chance that people will be in a frame of mind where they will seek, find, and utilize opportunities for constructive use of their minds.
While the admission has to be made that it is impossible to change the mind of people through mere reasoning alone, the truth of kindness is of an enduring value. When it is recognized that we are creatures of emotion, we are affected by passions and affections, fears and apprehensions, the worth of kindness in reaching the heart and not just the mind is understood. We see the evidence of this nowhere more persuasively than in nature itself. Nature isn’t simply a manifestation of what conforms to utility, it is filled with beauty, charm, colors, sounds, smells, and every conceivable or even inconceivable diversity to fill the human heart with wonder.
According to Hume, intentional actions are the immediate product of passions, in particular the direct passions, including the instincts. He does not appear to allow that any other sort of mental state could, on its own, give rise to an intentional action except by producing a passion, though he does not argue for this. The motivating passions, in their turn, are produced in the mind by specific causes, as we see early in the Treatise where he first explains the distinction between impressions of sensation and impressions of reflection:
An impression first strikes upon the senses, and makes us perceive heat or cold, thirst or hunger, pleasure or pain, of some kind or other. Of this impression there is a copy taken by the mind, which remains after the impression ceases; and this we call an idea. This idea of pleasure or pain, when it returns upon the soul, produces the new impressions of desire and aversion, hope and fear, which may properly be called impressions of reflection, because derived from it. (T 126.96.36.199)
Taken from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Hume’s moral philosophy
Unless a tendency toward black-and-white thinking is created through conditioning or naturally existent within a person for physiological reasons, the mind that is not isolated from the rest will not remain confined to a simplistic view of human nature or of the world. A person, simply through observation of natural diversity will begin to see that creativity and imagination don’t come with imposed limits on a grand scale. However, the more localized and narrow one’s parochial view becomes, the less willing a person is to admit this. Having said all of this, it is not in the interest of man to surrender to creativity and imagination, especially on matters of morality. Unless there is the tethering ideals leading to loyalty and integrity, the quality of trustworthiness will all but entirely disappear from human relationships. There will remain nothing to base one’s relationship on if everything is open to an imaginative reinterpretation of human nature.
Interaction is a must
A safe conclusion one can arrive upon is, human interaction is a must to the understanding of the world of humankind. It is also a discovery of oneself. However, social forces are not the criteria upon which the core of a person can be determined. There is a limiting to interaction. There is a part of human identity that cannot be touched by or modified by the force of will or interaction with other human beings. There is a core part of humans, the very will to live, that connects with the Giver of Life, with the Creator our God. The simple reason that a person once dead is incapable of responding or changing, ought to tell us that it is the life-force within us that animates our will, our choices, our very being. This consciousness and this realization are exceptional to humans, and we are the better for it than the other creatures.