Humans are gods. Through science and technology we have risen to staggering heights of power. We can wipe entire nations off the face of the earth with the push of a button. We can destroy entire ecosystems in pursuit of imaginary wealth that other animals can’t even begin to comprehend. We have accumulated so much unrivaled power that we are offended to even be compared to nature! To call someone an animal is to somehow strip them of their humanness, as if the homosapien exists outside the animal kingdom.
Yet our biology remains the same. Our minds have not evolved as quickly as our might. We are gods but with the minds of chimpanzees. And there is nothing more dangerous than an all-powerful fool.
This is where we have gone wrong. It’s true that the most valuable thing one can do in society is to advance it, but this idea has been sold to us incompletely. We are raised to believe in a technological utopia where, if we work hard enough, we will soon live in abundance and won’t ever be in need. Science and engineering are sold to us as the pinnacles of civilisation. The foundations of every comfort we know. And yet we are experiencing unprecedented levels of depression, anxiety, obesity, suicide, and every other disease of the mind that you can think of.
Without advancing our consciousness we become but addicts to our own inventions. We have no idea how to control this power we have at our fingertips. We slave our lives away to build this utopia that we will never see. We bring suffering on ourselves in pursuit of fictitious profits. We let every aspect of our existence be infiltrated by manipulative media and adverts that corrupt our every endeavour. We work meaningless jobs to make someone else rich so that they can feed their own addictions. To power. To money. To fame and fortune.
We are not gods. We are apes with the power of gods. We have all this power and yet the only thing we strive for is death. Death of the environment, death of entire species, death of each other, and, inevitably, the death of humankind entirely. We have built weapons of mass-destruction and point them only at ourselves. That’s not divine, that’s primitive.
We are at a tipping point between life and abundance for all, or a painfully slow and torturous death for all. And the only switch that decides this fate is in our collective psyche. The human perception of life and all that is is the only thing standing between utopia and dystopia. And this is simply not the domain of science.
We know that humans aren’t driven by fact. This is agonisingly obvious in 2020. We have more knowledge at our disposal than any living being in all of the known universe has ever had, and yet because of our primordial perspectives we use this only to bring destruction. We don’t understand facts. We can’t effectively process information or assess risk. We never evolved for the world that we have procured. Our systems, our governments, our religions, our collective beliefs and aspirations all come from a different world; back when we weren’t so cataclysmically powerful.
What humans do understand, like any other animal, is emotion. How we feel. If we feel wronged we will enact revenge; or “justice” as we like to call it. If we feel empathetic we will donate, volunteer, and even put ourselves at risk. If we feel threatened we will act swiftly and decisively.
Unfortunately knowledge and fact rarely make us feel. We have known about existential threats such as climate change for an embarrassingly long time AND have had the knowledge to fix it. Yet look what we’re doing about it. Nothing substantial. Humankind as a species cannot comprehend science. That’s a fact.
Art however is different. Art is emotion. Humans have understood art since before language was even discovered. In every time period, in every revolution, in the coldest darkest places and the brightest happiest places there is always art. You generally won’t compel someone to change their behaviour through graphs and statistics, but if you show them a powerful story with moving music and emotive visuals then you can change their life. And so now, because of this utopia/dystopia tipping point, art becomes a matter of life or death.
We cannot save the world with any more power or knowledge than what we already have. Inventing new technologies and forcing primitive homosapiens further along the exponential curve of scientific discovery will only make us more unstable. We will not advance with more technology. What we need is more comprehension. A comprehension of reality and existence that can only be achieved through art.
Science without art is knowledge without wisdom. And we’re already witnessing the catastrophy of this imbalance.
So yes, let’s advance society. We have the scientific methods to build the technological utopia that we aspire towards. But we don’t yet have the emotional maturity or universal perspective to get there without destroying ourselves and everything else in the process. We need art now more than ever because art is the only thing that advances human consciousness. Art is the only thing that can save us from ourselves.