Saturday, January 29, 2011

Kind of intelligent

The bloody carnage of the past 100 years should have convinced even the dullest among us that violence within and between societies is now self defeating and colossally stupid.
David Orr, At the End of Our Tether: the Rationality of Nonviolence, p. 236.


Watching the impotence of the massive militaries of Egypt, Tunisia, and other nations--militaries composed of people of all levels of intelligence--as they do damage to their own people and alienate themselves from their own futures, we might wonder about kinds of intelligence. There is the standard IQ, the intelligence quotient, and that is now 99 years old, first developed by William Stern in Germany in 1912. In 1983, Howard Gardner's Frames of mind discussed multiple intelligences, mostly concepts such as social intelligence and emotional intelligence.

But a new one is needed, an Ahimsic Intelligence we might call it, that tries to see systemically, ecologically, even as it practices compassion toward all life. I don't believe anyone can achieve the kind of Ahimsic Genius that would enable anyone to become completely harmless and still function, but it seems to me that this is our next great test as a species.

Clearly the fruitarian Gandhi taught us many valuable lessons, moving down the food chain far more than Jesus reportedly did, so I think he was a more Advanced Ahimsic, but the deep challenge to us, I suspect, is to develop that sort of intelligence that integrates the macro, micro, and temporal, to help us see seven generations down through time and make decisions that are wise, compassionate and ahimsic for ourselves and life. These decisions are multidimensional, along several continua.

If humankind applies all these intelligences, we will become nonviolent. May our collective Ahimsic Intelligence develop fast enough to begin to repair the damage our IQs have wrought.

References
Orr, David W. (2008, April). At the End of Our Tether: the Rationality of Nonviolence. Conservation Biology. pp. 235-238. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2008.00902.x.

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind. New York: Basic Books.

1 comment:

Shannon Hoffman said...

Ah! Good point, well made.