If you have been round here for a while, you’ll know that individual consciousness, and its relations with the mob, is a recurrent issue in this blog. I consider it key to our current situation as a community. Well, the other day I had an insight about this and my first thought, of course, was sharing it with my faithful Zerebria readers
As I have mentioned many times before, I think individual thought, real free thinking, is a very scarce good in our times. All passions have become collective, and it is not hard to see people with very poor levels of consciousness. People who, at first glance, look a bit like ‘walking stereotypes’, with very little differential features among them, and all of their potentials unexplored. It is not easy to overlook an issue like this when having a simple walk or turning a tv on faces you to hundreds, thousands of human beings with behaviors that reveal a mental age (no offence intended) between 7 and 13 years.
The causes for this are many and open to interesting discussions. Each of us will have a personal list of favorites. But my epiphany the other day had more to do with the proper approach to the phenomenon. My previous formulation of the thing by then had been something like this:
“Most of the people has a very poor consciousness level nowadays”
Not bad to begin with, but I did not realize such a definition was poor because it left a whole gap unexplained: OK, there’s very little consciousness in this or that human specimen. But then, what’s there instead? The specimen moves, speaks, it’s alive just like the others. What’s animating it instead of consciousness? Though it did not look like it, my definition was in fact a negative sentence, and negative sentences do not grab-what-is, only exclude-what-is-not.
Then one day, I stumbled upon this paragraph:
…consciousness allows the individual to adapt itself in an organized manner, so that it controls its instincts, and it cannot thus be lacking. Having a capability for consciousness is what makes us human.
(Carl Gustav Jung, ‘The archetypes and the collective unconscious’. The translation is mine).
The words in bold show the opposites I want to remark. The mystery was solved: when a person’s consciousness is not developed, instincts run the place instead. Default animal configuration, and very basic imitative behaviors to fill in the gaps.
It made so much sense. Think about impolite events you’ve watched at the street recently. An asshole possessed by its motorcycle. Instinct. Two guys fighting after a car crash. Instinct. Someone yelling shit in the streets at 2 a.m. Instinct. Instinct. Instinct.
Such a realization was frightening and liberating at the same time. It is said that a good formulation of a problem is already a half of the solution.
Final consideration: by no means I mean here that everybody should reach a super-intense degree of consciousness; perhaps it would be just as bad as the current situation. Instincts can be great too, they exist for a very good reason. Think about the maternal instinct, or the empathy that makes us feeling moved by what happens to someone we don’t know (inbuilt compassion, only because humans look alike). What I miss is a higher degree of balance, a similar length on both legs so we can, once and for all, walk at ease.
What do you think could be done to improve consciousness? Which are your personal ‘favorites’? Any remarkable example of instinctive behaviors around you?