I am continuing to ponder the mystery of who we are. What constitutes the mind of man? What has led to the development of a ‘self-reflective’ primate who is capable of such extremes of human behavior–from the magnificance of art, the depths of compassion to the brutality of mindless slaughter an degradation. We have so much potential for enriching the life of our fellow human being, yet often choose to plunge ourselves into the depths of despair and suffering.
It seems as if the ‘therapeutic range’ concept of drugs would apply equally to human institutions and behaviors. Drugs can produced fantastic therapeutic results in a variety of medical conditions, but only when used within appropriate doses and for specified durations. One of mankind’s oldest discoveries, digitalis, was derived from the herb Foxglove. It has saved the lives of millions. But when allowed to accumulate in the body to toxic ranges, can be lethal. This is true of
of the vast majority of therapies that exist.
I believe the metaphor holds for human institutions as well–namely both science and religion. Each is a tool capable of producing remarkably powerful gains and improvements in the human condition. Each is capable of contributing to enormous suffering as well.
It is easy to list the benefits of science–technologic advancements in food production, medicines, transportation, leisure activities etc. But our weapons are also more lethal as well as our ability to pollute and destroy the entire planet many times over.
Religion can be the source of love, compassion and social justice, or a tool of fear turned to hatred. Inquisitions, crusades, jihads are the consequences of religious toxicity. The answer is that we must monitor the effects of everything we celebrate as beneficial. We must be cognizant of how tools can be used and misused, that they do not by themselves result in good or evil.