Does the value of life reside in a life form’s innate potential – the potential that their DNA allows one to have, or to the potential that a life’s situation provides the opportunity to achieve?
There is quite a difference and the implications are quite significant. You see, if innate potential is the dictator of life’s value, then I feel bad for cattle we breed to eat, for chickens that lay my eggs, and even for the horses whose sides I kick and neck I pull on to stop and go when I please. These animals have an innate potential that can only be discovered if they are FREE TO DISCOVER IT – something that, in these days of human dominion, such an opportunity is not really allowed.
But, how can the true potential of life be evaluated in our modern times?
In the last six thousand years or so, many animals have evolved into a state of dependency. Dogs, in the process of human’s domestication, have replaced the fierceness of their days as wolves with floppy ears and wagging tails. While they appear to like their new roles as man’s best friend and while they receive much love from humans in return… were they ever asked if they wanted to give up their freedom to roam the woods and instead spend their days lazing around our homes?
I guess this process of “co-evolution” wasn’t exactly a conscious decision of our ancestors – it just happened as a result of changing environments and changing levels of awareness – as a result of decisions made by ALL the species involved.
So… who is to judge what is right and what is wrong, what is the creative potential of these animals, and how this fits with the creative potential of other species, including our own?
Applying such ideas to human situations I consider those sitting behind sewing machines for 12 hour days 7 days a week, getting paid a pittance, and I try to think about the limitations their situation puts on their potential. But then I reflect – if I hadn’t made some pretty radical decisions about my own life, I may have been slaving away my life behind a computer pumping out 12 hour days 7 days a week working on spreadsheets (in a past life – around 8 years ago when I first left uni – I was an Accountant)…
And I ask myself: what allowed me the opportunity to pursue my own creative potential?
A few key people in my life who provided me the encouragement, and maybe even more so the people who provided me the dis-encouragement (which makes one even more determined to prove them wrong), spurred me to quit Accounting and travel to Japan where a new process of self-discovery first began.
It’s slightly controversial to say, and I know many will disagree with this statement, but in my opinion ALL humans have the innate potential to be academics, artists, accountants or actors – it’s just a matter of the opportunities they receive through their education and the cultivation of a vision of how they perceive their own capabilities in life.
This idea seems to make the ethical dilemmas of our unjust world even more difficult to deal with…
If I truly believe that anyone can achieve ANYTHING that they set their mind to – if they truly believe it to be possible – then where is the limit to anyone’s potential? Maybe there is no limit. So if you think of violence as being anything that prevents someone from reaching their true potential, then does that make everything in the world violent? Ok, now I’m really tying myself in knots.
Of course seeing the most unlikely dreams come true in my own life doesn’t this ask and recieve concept a universal law… yet when I combine these ideas with the concepts of innate and situational potential, I return to situation: if anyone else were born into my shoes, would be typing these exact words in this exact minute? I’m no psycho-analytical genetic expert, but my hunch is that they would… I’m not so sure how much of us is innate – might everything be situational?
What is it that prevents some dreams from becoming reality? In my observation it seems that it is fear and lack of confidence and faith in oneself, and a lack of ability to imagine the possibilities, that prevents ones ability to dream or prevents the dreams one has from manifesting in their reality.
Is it possible that we are limited only by our own minds?
Or, as Henry Ford put it: “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way you are right.”
But then, there’s something to be said for innate factors – like the genetics of our parents, the skills our ancestors have learned and passed on… but are these innate, or situational to the choices or our ancestors?
Maybe in the end it is a combination of both the innate and the situational potential we are each presented that dictates the creative achievements of our lives? Maybe this whole idea of one or the other is just a play with words and concepts and all dependent on my own culturally cultivated perceptions…
It’s nice to think we are all “worth the same”, but when you see in other cultures the lack of value placed on human lives, and the extra value placed on, for example, a cow’s life.. you remember that grand cultural influence that shapes our perspectives and values. Are our creative achievements something we can use to evaluate the value of one life or life form over another?
Ok, I hope this entry isn’t too randomly haphazardly put together – I did warn you about my grasshopper mental state I blame on my PISD – my Post India Stress Disorder…
Anyway, in conclusion, let me just share that I’m starting to think that when it comes solutions to poverty and environment and conflicts and all the other stuff I rant on about, maybe the greatest gift we can give is the ability to imagine the possibilities – the ability to dream… And to share a little secret: the only person who can empower you to achieve your dreams, is yourself.
Set up by mwah and snapped by Lucinda Amon on the morning after my sister’s wedding in Bowral. Another one for my ongoing series – which I think I’m going to name “The Bridge” rather than “The Crab” so I can write up in artist blurbs as “symbolising the bridging of present to future” … opinions???