|From the Buddha doodles|
"Women have the right to vote"
"Blacks and whites can go to the same universities"
"India should be a free country"
"I want to work on Sunday and not go to church"
Given that the world is changing before our eyes, it is rational to assume that at some point in the future, someone will stand on top of a table in a park and shout that India should be 25 different self-governed countries, and people will either yell back in agreement or disagreement, or laugh in derision. Some people will yawn and say, meh, that's his opinion, and I don't care either way. There will be a couple of guys who will want to punch the nose of the speaker, but THAT will be seen as illegal and it will be the punchers who will be taken to the police station for a chat, not the speaker.
I was thinking these thoughts as I was jogging yesterday so the podcast that came up on stitcher (it's an app I use for streaming podcasts), "The New Normal", almost seemed like a direct answer. Radiolab, brillant as usual. The premise of the podcast is the question - can people/cultures/belief systems change? - and it explores the question over three amazing stories. The one that blew my mind was story #3 which links behavior change to genetics and Darwinism, through the idea of domestication. We know that wolves, who are creatures of the wild, branched out and evolved into dogs over hundreds of years of evolution, from ferocious snarly creatures, to adorable cuddly pets. The podcast talks about a biologist in Siberia in the 1960s who wanted to understand this process of evolution/domestication and worked with wild foxes; turns out it took him only ten years of selective breeding to change wild fox into domesticated fox. This leads to the inevitable question: can such a process happen with humans? And guess what the answer is - it is already happening. The universe is playing selective breeder with us. As compared to our ancestors, we're shorter, our bones are more fragile, we're less aggressive (hard to believe when you see pictures of RSS karyakartas, but it's true). How did this happen? As societies moved towards community based activities like agriculture, aggressive people were less useful than collaborative ones, and so the latter were more likely to be more popular, have better luck in finding mates and having kids, and hence had a better chance of propagating their genes! This is the podcast, I cannot recommend it too highly. It will cheer you up and give you hope.
It's only logical to hope that the process will continue: The RSS karyarta-types will find fewer mates, and the folks like the cute JNU students will have a more active sex life (they're carrying roses in their protest marches for god's sake!), and therefore, spread more of their genes around. So in a few hundred years, we will be a world of sensible, respectful, 'domesticated' people, who will argue and disagree but will not kill each other for arguing and disagreeing.
I only wish the process were faster.
Kanhaiya Lee: Dude, I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking about patriotism and love for the motherland. I think Hitler was one of the smartest people ever, he was just very misunderstood.
Albert Singh: Well, he was a murderer, can't get away from that, you know
Lee: But he had the greater good of his country at the core of all his actions. I really admire him. He was so right - the welfare of the people who belong to a country takes precedence over anything else.
Singh: Nothing justfies killing 3 million people. Nothing. At. All.
....goes on for a couple of hours.....
Singh: I think you're an asshole.
Lee: I think you're stick-in-the mud baffoon, incapable of any intellectual growth. I'm hungry, do you want to go get a Soylent drink?
Singh: That place with the cute waiter? Yes, I heard he broke up with his boyfriend. Let's go! And after that, will come home and help me with some research on my paper?
Lee: I'll think about it.