Survival: A Balancing Act

The Olympics made me consider the age old formula of having balance in our lives. Even our food choices are best when there is balance. The Olympians were outstanding! Yet, I always wonder about their “inner” health when I realize how much of their existence is focused upon a few days, sometimes seconds, of time.

So, I created a chart of what, I believe, is true of life for human beings. As I was creating the chart, I couldn’t help but think of examples of extremes. As for Olympians, they are dedicated people who make sacrifices that I do not understand but who make me endlessly proud.

First, and foremost, our need is for survival. Whatever we do, survival comes first because everything else simply counts upon it.

There is wealth. I define wealth as anything tangible in excess of what we need to just survive. We all want comforts and wealth is not a bad thing at all. Wealth makes for prosperity and, often, longevity. You may call wealth, “comforts and currency”. Greed is at the center of those who lopsidedly surround themselves in wealth but no one should be ashamed of pursuing wealth. Wealth inspires innovation and progress which, most often, benefit humankind. We can easily name world leaders and professionals who specialize entirely in the pursuit of wealth and they are, in my mind, detrimental to us all.

There is discovery. It could be subtitled adventure. Ah, what would science be without the hunger to discover. Many of our forefathers came to this country from the need to discover. And we continue to question and learn everyday of our lives from the engrained human impulse for discovery. The Olympians fall primarily into the “overindulging in discovery” crowd. Their mission is to discover the limits of the human body and to test its endurance. Although many of them become wealthy, I believe that their excessive commitment belongs to a zeal for personal discovery. On the down side, scientists who ignore the ethics of scientific study are guilty of placing way too many “eggs” in the discovery “basket” and are my example of a dangerous group. I think arrogance is their primary motivation but greed also plays a role.

Finally, there is enlightenment. Religion and philosophy are the tools in this search for answers. Most often religion and philosophy are at the center of what separates us from our id of savagery. Generosity, forgiveness, and introspect all come from our search for enlightenment. When enlightenment outweighs the two previously mentioned needs, we have the jihad. Holy wars even misplace the human need to survive. Suicide bombers seem the best current example of the danger to humankind from weighing too heavily upon enlightenment.

So balance is still the key to the “good life”, and in my estimation, the spread of imbalance is a direct danger to our survival.

Accepting our place in the World

In order to contemplate saving the world, one must be either delusional enough to believe that they have the single correct recipe for life or well-to-do enough to have time to select causes of the most importance to survival for everyone. We all basically attempt to survive in this world. Once we meet the initial criteria for survival; food,water,shelter, and the assurance (however fragile) of those continuing comforts, humans all extend themselves and, in many cases, impose themselves on others. I doubt if the Japanese victims of the most recent of Mother Nature’s power plays have any interest in the Global Warming arguments at this moment. I fear that all mankind is “civilizing” itself into certain extinction. But then, that is only my opinion.

The great divide, in the minds of people world wide, centers on their beliefs about the place humans fill in the world. Some of us see mankind as a part of the earth and Nature and others perceive man as “above” and/ or separate from Nature and the natural laws.

Mankind, in my opinion, has an inflated idea of its importance and its ability to influence our world for good or bad. Our own arrogance just may be our ultimate undoing.