Preface [chapter]

1973 Postures and Politics  
Life in this world has endless possibilities for man. He has countless talents for thinking and doing vast numbers of things. The world he inhabits is rich in physical beauty, resources, and stimulations for his emotions. He has thus been generously endowed with assets and opportunities. Nevertheless the view of man from heaven must be astonishing. Even by earthly standards his activities are hilarious and sad. He is capable of so much brilliance and happiness, and yet he wastes so much of his
more » ... tes so much of his ability on stupidity and melancholy. He is such an insignificant part of the forces of nature, and yet he takes himself with a deadly seriousness that is dependent, not even on his merits and abilities, but on complicated theories which he uses as formidable weapons for self-delusion and self-destruction. Thus preoccupied, he does not take life seriously enough. History reveals him to be a repeater of mistakes, and technical growth enables him to make bigger mistakes as he increases his control over natural resources, other species, and his own kind. Unfortunately, however, he has reached the limit; he needs to make only one more big mistake to lose control and go the way of other species that became extinct because they did not adjust to one another and the world. But, some say, man is not an animal; he is a child of God not comparable with other species. Neither zoological nor theological literature indicates that he so behaves. Some may say he has conquered the world; there is as good a case for saying the world has conquered him. The main element in this dilemma is man; the subordinate elements are his theories and institutions. But the dilemma occurs because he has reversed these elements, and made himself subordinate to his theories. It has long been my conviction that whenever man uses the means at his disposal to relate men to men and men to nature he is at his happiest and most productive. When he relies too much on his theories and institutions he is subordinated to them; when they are unstable he is kept in continuous discord ; when they become unnatural he behaves unnaturally.
doi:10.3138/9781487576677-001 fatcat:jespvhmxcbeqvgtylcqacc6moe