A long time ago, a certain wise man once observed: “every work that has been done under the sun” and came to this conclusion: “Man has dominated man to his injury.” Which is to say—at least at the time of his writing those words—the entire history of the dominion of men has ultimately been to our own detriment, for the “troubles of mankind are so abundant”, he said.
This was thousands of years ago!
Fast forward to today! Do those words still hold true? Are you inclined to agree that all man’s efforts at ideologies, politics, and commerce has ultimately been to our own harm? Has our system of things utterly failed us?
History is chocked full of examples for reflection. Let’s take ideologies, for instance. By ideologies, I mean the entire make-up of our worldview comprising our philosophy, science, and religion.
The year 1905 was termed as Einstein’s Annus Mirabilis; that is, Einstein’s Miracle Year. Why? Well, that was the year Einstein produced some ground-breaking papers that have changed how Physicists understood the way the material world ticks from the macroscopic universe to the microscopic atoms. From these revelations came what is now known as the world’s most famous equation—E=mc2—and paved the way for the quest for the so-called theory of everything. Clearly, this was a definite highlight of human advancement in knowledge that has evidently been beneficial even to this day.
Yet, a cautionary tale lay hidden in the narrative. An unintended twist that Einstein lamented in his lifetime. The world’s most famous equation led to one of the most devastating weapons in the most devastating war in human history. It was the atomic bomb. And it was the second world war.
Apparently, a good deed is not sufficient for a good outcome.
If fire was discovered to enable cooking, many have since used it to enable countless wars. Show me a great idea and I’ll show you a nefarious use for it. And sadly, the latter seem to catch on quick.
So, has man indeed dominated man to our injury?
Religion has been no different. Belief in a Supreme Being has been hailed for driving virtue and moral values and duties; and even science. Isaac Newton, the father of modern-day science, was curiously influenced by his belief in a Grand Designer of all things to seek out the workings of the universe. Gregor Mendel, the father of genetics, was a Catholic priest. Still, religion has also been the driving force of intense hate throughout history. Blaise Pascal famously said: “Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” We may even be inclined to agree with Jonathan Swift when he said: “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.”
The branch of Politics and Governance follows suit. Here lies the struggle between what is correct and what is politically correct. So, what is really right and what is really wrong? Are you left, right, or centre? Confusion abounds!
The recent Kenya elections fallout gives a good snapshot of a political climate of confusion and division that has plagued people for as long as man has been around. Just look at Togo, where people seem to be passionately dissatisfied with their government; apparently, one family has overstayed its rule.
On the commercial side of things, big businesses drive the production of useful goods and services and, yet, are prevalently riddled with shady practices (SSNIT anyone?) and environmental degradation all in the name of profit.
There doesn’t seem to be any ultimate solace in our system of things from religion to politics to commerce (Or is there?), and the aforementioned wise man’s words come back to haunt us in reflection: Has man dominated man to his own injury? Has our system failed us? Is all hopeless?
Who, then, would you say has the right to rule?