The Evolution of Our Species
"It has become appallingly obvious that our technology
has exceeded our humanity.".
Jiddu Krishnamurti, one of the best-known Hindu philosophers of the twentieth century and one of the clearest thinkers of all time, once powerfully stated, “This repetitive process of killing each other has been going on, though we are highly educated, technologically we are extraordinarily efficient, but psychologically we are very, very primitive.”1
Former CBS News anchorman and author Water Cronkite bemoaned the fact that despite years of civilization and progress, “We still believe the way to settle arguments is to kill each other...There's something flawed about us as human beings if we cannot come to an understanding that is no solution at all. It is uncivilized. It is immoral.”2
One of our most influential filmmakers, George Lucas, underscored the same point in reply to an interviewer's question:
Interviewer: “At one time you said, “Technology won't save us.” Do you think technology is making the world better or worse?”
George Lucas: “If you watch the curve of science and everything we know, it shoots up like a rocket. We're on this rocket and we're going perfectly vertical into the stars. But the emotional intelligence of humankind is equally if not more important than our intellectual intelligence. We're just as emotionally illiterate as we were 5,000 years ago; so emotionally our line is completely horizontal. The problem is the horizontal and the vertical are getting farther and farther apart. And as these things grow apart, there's going to be some kind of consequence of that.”3
Business consultant and author Stephen R. Covey agrees, “I think the whole technological revolution has, in a sense, accelerated people's intellectual abilities but outpaced their emotional maturity.”4 A pair of recently published books by Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., a psychologist who covers behavioral and brain sciences for The New York Times, have focused on “emotional intelligence” as a critical factor in people who excel, particularly in the workplace, and the high costs in personal relationships and physical health when there are deficits.5
So there is a growing consensus that no matter how sophisticated our Western technology is, our emotional maturity is lagging far behind, despite its key influence on our health and ability to excel. This is a most disturbing trend. Despite the localized and general outbursts of violence in the world, the solution has to be approached one individual at a time.
Someone once said that civilization is preserved by its conservatives and moves forward by its radicals. Each helps our species stay reasonably grounded on the one hand and adaptively evolving on the other within a context of balance. The great opportunity and joy of living is to choose yourself to help stay grounded as well as move our species forward. Heaven knows we could all use this.
1. Jidda Krishnamurti quote: On the Nature of Love, a talk in Ojai, California, Mystic Fire Video, 1982.
2. Walter Cronkite quote: Reported in the Redlands Daily Facts, May 16, 2000, page A2.
3. George Lucas quote: Reported in Wired, 5 (.02), February, 1997, page 217.
4. Steven Covey quote: reported in Los Angeles Times, Business Part II “Careers”, May 10, 1999, Page 10.
5. Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence (New York: Bantam Books, 1995); Working with Emotional Intelligence (New York: Bantam Books, 1998).