Live from Cairoston

The odd lot of Man

The problem with living rationally is that we, as humans, have irrational passions. Many of our desires do not follow the Laws of Nature and  do not flow with its Logic, and thus we feel the pain of denial; a pain that cannot be healed by rational acceptance of the dominance of Nature, but by a passionate irrational struggle. Perhaps our most basic irrational desire is not to die… we as a species do not embrace death, we believe in the significance of our lives and hate to see it come to an end. Human beings perhaps were not designed to live fully rationally.

Eman was a successful yuppie, left home after high-school and never looked back. It’s true that her relationship with her family grew rather sour over the years; for she was fully committed to her career and didn’t want to waste time flying back to the East Coast twice or thrice a year. Freelance consulting in Silicon Valley was proving lucrative and in the mean time, her other brothers graduated, her elder sister got married and her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Despite all these major developments, Eman was only remotely involved. Come to think of it, why would she give her family more attention at all? After all, she had muscled her way through life after high-school, worked and studied, basically started from scratch, and she had to keep on going. What could family offer her now? If she wanted to be honest with herself, she would confess to the dryness of such logic, but at the end it was true. There isn’t much in common to talk about after 11 years of being away. Perhaps her position was genetically influenced, for her three brothers and sister pretty much all maintained only a mediocre relationship with home.
Then came the phone call. Her father was now dying. The business he had worked all so hard to build had dropped dead only after sucking all of his resources and savings. If only he had someone to mentor him after immigrating to the US, he would have saved so much time and avoided so many mistakes. But after 25 years there is not meaning in regret. This last business he did especially well to prepare for, harnessing all the experience of the years… he wanted to get it up and running and leave it for his children. Yes it’s true that they’re doing well on their own, and yes it’s true that they didn’t keep in touch as much as he and their mother wanted, but at the end, they were his children, and he loved them dearly. However, for some reason the market quickly and unexpectedly changed, and people were no longer interested in the device he was assembling and selling… at all. The disappointment was painful for the father, and he fell ill, seriously ill, and his days were numbered.
When Eman walked into her father’s bedroom, she felt something deep inside; a ruthless nudge rebuking her. She felt so embarrassed for having favored her career over her parents like this, only to visit as her father laid bidding farewell. Then something strange kicked in. Eman at once changed into more comfortable clothes, tended to her father, massaged his feet, cooked food for her parents, dined with her mother, and then one evening went through her father’s business files.
He had basically gambled and lost, he invested in these devices, assembled 100,000 of them, and then before he could market them the tide shifted and he was out. His eyes welled when she talked to him about it, “I really wanted to leave something for all of you, but I must have done something wrong”. Her father was their broken and shriveling. All she wanted at that moment was to see him smile, and to make him feel proud of himself. “Don’t worry Baba, I’m going to call some of my marketing friends, I’m pretty sure we can find a client!” His face lit up!
Pretty quickly, Eman was advised to drop it, for it was a lost cause. There was no way that the business plan her father drew up could be profitable today. Things have changed. But Eman kept trying.
“I did it Baba! I found it!” She hurried into the room, and told her father all about the new client. She told him how she was advised to try clients in South-East Asia where the technology was still a bit behind and the market would still consume his product. Yes, shipping expenses were going to be higher and the profit margin would be less, but it was certainly a victory! “I can’t believe my ears!” Her father for the first time since she arrived showed excitement… his face was growing warm again. “I have to see it with my own eyes!” Eman assured him that she’d update him daily. A couple of days later, she ran up from her father’s office room downstairs to his bedroom with some papers printed out. “They transferred half the money and will transfer the rest upon receipt.” Her father was overwhelmed! She told him how she requested the warehouse to release the devices to the shipping company and that all was going according to plan. Her father gave her quick orders to use the transferred money to pay several bills and debts and Eman soon confirmed that all was done.
When the rest of the money was transferred, the father laid in his bed dying, but like a triumphant king. He was leaving his wife debt free, and leaving for his family a decent sum of money. He died with a smile on his face.
After the funeral, Eman packed her bags to head back to the West Coast. She had to start all over from scratch. Her business suffered from the two months she took off, her savings evaporated and she was now heavily in debt. She had just purchased 100,000 pieces of junk that were shipped somewhere on the other side of the globe.
That is our problem as a species, we weren’t meant to live a fully rational life, but we are pushing ourselves into that corner. We will suffer if we live in a world where we must submit to the laws and logic of Nature without a fight. We will expire if we are told that we cannot bargain our lot. We cannot tolerate the idea of not being able to ask, like Oliver Twist did, for another bowl of soup. The problem of mankind is that it cannot submit to its reason and to the laws of Nature.

The Government of the New World has drafted a new plan to rid the world of those romantic rebels. It is true that evolution was heading without direction, but the survival of mankind is now dependent on selecting against all those who are not willing to submit to the laws and logic of Nature. Science had confirmed that a specific region in the brain (dubbed ILV) is active during irrational decisions. People with an ILV larger and more active than the determined threshold were to be eliminated by all means necessary. It was the Century of Reason, and one hundred years later, the population of human beings sported ILVs smaller than the determined threshold. Now mankind was able to live rationally without feeling the pain of irrational impulses. However, further research determined that larger ILVs arose spontaneously in any given population. It was a complicated developmental process that was unpredictable. Parents were now required, by law, to have their children screened at the ages of 4 and 6. If their ILVs proved to be growing at an unacceptable rate, then their lives were cut short. Any couple who had two of such children would lose their right to give birth. The Nobel Prize was awarded to a two scientists who developed a protocol that allows us to manage the growth of ILVs. Indeed, the size and activity of ILVs were now regulated, and the smaller and more dormant the better. Another Nobel Prize was awarded to the three scientists who contributed to our understanding of ILV development, allowing for gene therapy applications to interfere with the process before birth.
At last, human beings had conquered their ILVs. Man had now evolved into a fully rational creature. They thus outgrew their previous species, Homo sapiens, and had now become something else. Thus was the extinction of mankind, and the birth of something else.
Our species can only be transient; that or we must struggle against evolution. Man with his combination of reason and irrationality, is an unstable transition, he must either struggle to maintain his existence, or let go and flow with the current of evolution. On the one he will waste his life in a lost battle, on the second he will lose his being. How odd is the lot of man?

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