Seek first to understand … Then control and standardise 

Today morning Arun and I had a healthy discussion on facebook about GM food, pesticides, lifespans etc. Yes Monsanto too. Monsanto for years has been at the receiving end of a lot of flak and I tried searching for articles that were balanced. Found this one Food – is Monsanto the answer or the problem. This was written in 2009 and it says the population of the world will be 9.5 billion in 2050 and Monsanto is trying to find solutions to feed this population. Hmmmm… I have huge issues with this approach. Should we first let the population go up to 9.5 billion ? Aren’t we supposed to ensure the Earth’s resources are sustained and growing human population puts the whole Earth under enormous strain. We attack the wrong problem and with wrong means – The US is the largest producer of corn in the world and wants the whole world to eat corn … The EU is the largest producer of wheat followed by China and India. China and India are also large consumers of wheat owing to their large population. So the EU wants the world to eat wheat. Population growth rate is highest in Africa (2.5%) and now Monsanto is trying to create a drought resistant maize. 

The drought resistant maize has come in for flak too but this is not about Monsanto, it’s about how we think. We want to control Nature and standardise everything. The developed nations want to control what the developing nations eat, wear or even dream. The US would like to believe that it’s model of democracy is the best and must be followed everywhere and they believe it’s perfectly ok to demolish thousands of years of Mesopotamian history because they don’t like Saddam Hussien !!! Just like rampant vaccinations have created resistant strains of virus and bacteria so has elimination of Saddam Hussien made way for the ISIS probably. 

Stephen Covey is my all time favorite author in anything to do with personal and leadership development. His first book “Seven habits of highly effective people” will remain one of the most important books of all time and the 5th habit says “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”. And we just don’t do that – we don’t try to understand our children, but rush to control their behavior and standardise it according to the society, we don’t try to understand religion but rush to control the propagation of one or the other and standardise the use of just one religion, we don’t seek to understand why people in Okinawa live beyond a 100 but rush to standardise their food habits into the Okinawa diet :):). The examples are plenty. At work, we refuse to show any understanding because it’s often perceived as loss of control and we thrust standardisation – while espousing the noble “diversity” agenda. We would want every employee to think alike, work in a standard way and feel engaged the same way, well, don’t blame the corporate honchos, they were controlled and standardised by their teachers, schools, colleges and first bosses :). 

Earth is the biggest sufferer due to this need for control and standardisation before understanding. All scientific research starts off as a quest for understanding the phenomena, but quickly the human psychology tries to control tand standardise the phenomena. Corporations that spend millions in research have to show new products and the pressure makes them put out something new and cool quickly. Am all for research and exploration, within and without, but first seek to understand …. And let go of the need to control and standardise. In Nature, nothing is standard, everything is unique and things are cyclical, food chains, seasons, oceans, flowering, every thing is cyclical with no apparent control. There is a deep message for the intelligent human race from this, seek first to understand and you cannot standardise. Communism tried to standardise on a grand scale and failed, Capitalism tries to control and it too has failed – there is a happy medium somewhere there. 

Like I was telling my young friend Neil, it’s his generation that has to find the answers because our generation has managed to try different models with limited success. Hopefully with the long “unhealthy” lifespans that new age science has granted us, many of us will live to see a new model emerge – and one that is understanding of the laws of Nature. Till then, let’s atleast try and stop being control freaks and standardisation automatons !!

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