Has Civilization Dulled Our Senses?

22 Jul

Can we really claim our civilization is advanced? Technologically it may be, our achievements are incredible including space travel and DNA mapping, but has human potential – except to live longer – really advanced?

Our senses, particularly sense of smell, have been assigned very routine functions. For city folk, we hear more than we want to hear and need to keep music up high to mask background noise. When we are not looking at city sights – other buildings – we are frequently viewing things at close range on screens rather than seeing the real things. Our sense of smell has been pushed into the background with more emphasis on what we don’t want to smell than what we do want to smell.

It is not, I must admit, my dream to be in wide open spaces using our human senses to their fullest capability, but that may not be a bad idea. Our senses function in conjunction with our brain and if they are allowed or encouraged to function at high sensitivity, it may correspondingly open our minds and heighten our ability to experience – possibly make us wiser and understanding more.

That would be a form of enlightenment and, of course, enlightenment in earlier generations was associated with drugs. That is convenient because our world today is obsessed by drugs. In the attempt to prolong living, it is now possible to detect thousands of things (including dangerous foods) that need to be treated with medication.

So, most of the population are on drugs (legal or illegal) of one kind or another. They obviously alter our senses, particularly as the function of many is to lessen pain and anxiety. They are used for understandable reasons, but the downside is that they must, to some extent, also be dulling our natural senses.

In addition to medication, exercise programs are followed by many people. There are logical reasons, but in many ways they are responding to the body as though it were a machine. The moving parts are particularly well maintained, but not necessarily the control panel – the brain. If the brain controls the moving parts, could exercising the brain deal with aches and pains and other problems better than forcing movement of the body to try to overcome the programming of the mind?

Are we truly evolving as increasingly enlightened human beings or has our environment and social focus put us in a holding pattern? Are we, in effect, trading some higher values to achieve longevity and more physical (superficial?) goals? In many ways our lives seem more adapted to receiving facts, dealing with physical issues and living longer than to experiencing at the highest level possible and harnessing the potential power of our minds.

What do you think? Are we advancing solidly ahead, or at most, standing still?

I was attempting to learn from from a film about the Chauvet Cave in France, filled with ancient art from more than 20,000 years ago. I expected to be struck by the contrast between that time and now, but instead I learned that the apparent closeness of our ancestors to their environment and use of subtle symbolism was at a very advanced level. I learned to be more humble and to suspect that our ability to experience our environment and relationships may have diminished rather than heightened over the years! A sad thought in spite of all our technological advances.

Thank you for your interest. I look forward to any thoughts and comments you may have.

Ian

p.s. This post is adapted from an earlier post (November 2011) on Toolbox for HR, but it seemed appropriate to use as an introductory post on my new blog.

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