We are connected. Our logic, mathematics, science, and engineering are communal tools we use to build a
virtual world, which we all inhabit. It contains us, sustains us, it directs
our action, it feeds our minds. We call this the real world, even though it is
something we have created with our technology and which is suffused with the dissonant contents of our troubled psyches. We are one species
– a biological super-organism, connected by mirror neurons and a vast
species-specific theory of mind. We sense one another’s awareness, emotional states, behavior, and we react to
each other’s mental states.
We contribute to the collective
state of mind which affects us all. The weakest among us bear the heaviest
burden. We maintain the fiction that there is a separation between what we call
the real world and the world of our media – the virtual worlds of our creation,
even though they are coterminous, nested. Our virtual realities reside entirely
within the larger environment, which we all inhabit. There is no boundary
between our minds and the world. This is the nature of the mind and it is the
nature of the world. It is the meaning of evolution, and co-evolution. The
environment and the organism co-evolve. Our culture is the habitat which our
perception and experience are channeled through learned linguistic structures.
In this sense, there is no individual experience. What we experience is a
culturally conditioned version of co-evolutionary awareness. To the extent that
we brutalize aspects of our experience, we brutalize the shared environment
inhabited by all of us. The collective violence spread by our war, crime, cruelty, anger, and mean-spiritedness is magnified and echoed by our media, for profit and for entertainment.
In this way, we share in the collective responsibility for what occurs in our
midst. Unfettered expression is a destructive commodity if it is not harnessed
by a sense of social responsibility. Creative freedom carries with it the responsibilities
incumbent upon those who create experience. To create violent experience is to
add to the sum total of violence experienced. How could it be otherwise? To
have deluded ourselves, to have given ourselves permission to engage in a mass virtual sensorium of voyeuristic hyper-violence – these denials do not mask psychological
realities. We can change the world only if we are willing to change ourselves.
This has always been the message. It remains so today.*Image: “Culture of Violence” – Tullio DeSantis, 2012