February 25, 2003

Of humanity and such …

I’m still reading Gordon R. Dickson’s "Childe" cycle. The fifth book in the series "The Final Encyclopedia" has been the biggest yet. At a whopping 700 pages and a font size tinier than normal, it probably equals all the other four books that went before it since all of them were around 200+ pages :p However, this books does take the time to explore the character and to talk about humanity and its future at length perhaps because it was written at a different time – a time at which novels weren’t bound by page limitations which set them at around 200-300 pages .. Or maybe it was just because Gordon R. Dickson was a known writer by then. Whatever the case maybe, while some might find this book to be extremely long winded at times, I found it to be thought provoking.

The book postulates that humanity is a giant multi-celled organism made up of all the individual people that make up humanity. That humanity as an organism has a consciousness of its own and that this mega-creatures actions are defined by the combination of actions of all individuals. I am not sure that I do subscribe to this idea or to some of the others Dickson has in the book about the evolution of the race. But then again, I probably am not the kind of person who sees things philosophically – at least, not at that high a level of philosophies. I’d rather deal with things at a personal level or at least at a tangible level.

Something did come out of the book that made me think of something though – evolve my own philosophy if you want to call it that :p However, it was not the book itself but an analysis written about the book and it’s characters which made me come up with my idea. The analysis pointed out that the main character – Hal Mayne, who incidentally is male – acquires traits like compassion, intuition and empathy which are traditionally the domain of females and that Hal’s companions, who happen to be female, take up traditionally male roles … or something to that effect. This made me think about Dickson’s idea of "splinter cultures" differently. In Dickson’s story, the "splinter cultures" are basically people who embody one specific facet of full-spectrum man from Earth – the philosopher, the man of faith or the warrior. These people have left Earth to travel to different worlds where they built a life for themselves with like minded others.

To me it seems as if we have splinter cultures here on Earth itself – that of men and women. I’ve always maintained that men and women are just two halves that make up a whole but if you look at it another way, they are each missing a half to make them complete. This half as far as men goes is the ability to empathize, to be able to see something from another’s point of view, to have compassion. I can only speak for men since that’s the point of view I’m familiar with, I can’t say this is what women lack since I’d be going based on hearsay, stereotypes and other input which might not be objective – plus, any ladies reading this might get totally ticked off at me :p But I digress …

To me it seems that humanity can be improved upon if the two halves of humanity were able to acquire some of the positive traits of each other. This would lead to a more compassionate, more caring race that could perhaps at last leave behind all the bickering, all the schisms, all the other ills of humanity and work towards a world united as one race. That is my dream …

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