Sunday, September 1, 2013

Good Morning Jacob...

Letter to my Son
Sunday, 1 September

Human Artifact

Good Morning Jacob…

There’s almost no tissue between the forehead and the bone of the skull.  In fact, the head is the skull’s form barely concealed beneath the soft tissue of the face’s gentle expression.  Our skeletal grin reveals itself when our full, rosy lips part to express our pleasure.  Our sparkling eyes are extensions of our brain, specialized nervous tissue that pushes its way through boney passages to take in the light that bathes our surface.  On the other hand, the musculature of our torso and limbs more completely conceals the mechanical nature of our structure.  We are an assemblage of bones held in place by a network of muscles that act as pulleys and torsion bars so that we aren’t stuck in one spot, like a plant, our entire life. 

We are built up around a long central tube that must continually be replenished with objects we ingest from our surroundings.  Our inner workings extract from these once living articles their energy potential for our own use, so that we can sustain our own life’s mission.  Of course, that mission varies greatly from individual to individual depending upon the nature of our desires, the strength of our ambition and our intellectual and physical potential. 

This, then, is a rough beginning - describing each of us as individual expressions of an organism made solely of bone, tissue, and a remarkably intricate nervous system.  You and I, as mere individuals of this species, have goals limited to preserving our own existence if we are without the benefit that group intelligence provides us.  This is a remarkable resource that we might as well call culture.  It provides each of us with memory that exceeds our own in both time and spatial capacity.  It gives us a lexicon of standardized symbols we can use to share both ideas and the knowledge we acquire from our own experiences.  The commonalities we share in being part of this one culture enable us to behave as though we are all part of an extended family.  Generally speaking, we intuitively understand each other when it comes to basic motivations and we find it preferable for our own welfare to work in cooperation with one another. 

Our group behaves like any complex organism and divides into specialized parts that separately contribute to the welfare of the whole.  Ability and inclination enable a few individuals to act as the brain – providing direction, after weighing the potential benefits and dangers of various options.  Many individuals set about collecting the resources needed to maintain the group’s physical welfare.  Some people within the group provide the muscle necessary to encourage a common purpose among our members.  They are also vital in discouraging harmful acts taken against us by other groups and in helping to settle disputes that may actually arise. 

Harmony among the various elements of the group is never to be taken for granted.  Governance is still an art form dependent upon the availability of individuals displaying both wisdom and the talent of leadership.  The quality of education reflects the shifting popularity of cultural values.  The socialization of the individual to accept an identity greater than self is never complete… and thankfully so.  We are each in pursuit of dreams of a personal nature and we stubbornly resist homogenizing group thought.  There will always be a healthy inclination to subvert culture so long as we remain human.  We can all be artists busy fabricating our own personal destiny while still responding to the call of cultural values and the needs of the group. 

How inconvenient, though, it can all be.  What stupid decisions we sometimes make as individuals.  Didn’t I learn anything in school?  I wasn’t brought up to be this way.  I readily admit my mistakes are of my own unique contrivance; as are yours.  It’s about testing conventional thought.  Sometimes we get it right thinking on our own.  Much of what we do as individual humans is worth the trouble we cause to this culturally oiled mechanism that is society… civilization.  It’s what we need to do to keep life vital.  So keep it up.


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