Dr. Francisco Miraval

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February 18, 2018

9:01 PM

Individual and collective immaturity prevent us from solving our problems

Francisco Miraval

I have been observing people and myself for many years and I honestly believe there are to main reasons why we, humans, face the problems and challenges we face: either we are not living the life we have been called to live according to our talents and passion, or we never assume our responsibility for the problems we have.

Obviously, things are not that superficial. In fact, every minute of every day we are bombarded by messages telling us we are living the “wrong” life and we should aspire to a “better” life. And in many cases, people in a position of authority (from teachers to politicians) become examples of those who easily and rapidly find somebody else to blame for whatever is happening to them or for the results of their actions.

Even worst, that “better life” constantly being presented to us and exemplified by the so-called “celebrities” is, no doubt, just an illusion where many live trapped all their lives. I mean, as soon as you move beyond the red carpet and the altered pictures, the glamour disappear and the misery of the real life many “celebrities” live is evident, as many stories show.

We are asked to buy cars, makeup, perfumes, vacations, watches, electronics, clothes, and running shoes so we can look like the human caricatures, the masks, the fiction character, the mental illusions presented to us to deceive our minds and hearts and, in doing so, lead us away from our purpose and mission in life.

We become the other to ourselves because we compare ourselves to an ideal that we will never reach because it doesn’t exist. We are frustrated for not reaching that “better life” which in many cases it is just a mirage, not a real thing.

And then, in frustration, we look for a scapegoat to explain our problems. And the list of our scapegoats includes everything and everybody, from our parents to God, and anything else in between. “They” (whoever they are) are responsible for our problems, not us. They should be blamed, not us.

There are, obviously, circumstances beyond the control of any individual and even of humans in general. Yet, we live at a time when we don’t assume any responsibility, either as an individual or as a collective society. The “other” (the predecessor, the opposition, the boss or supervisor, the husband or wife, the mechanic, the doctor) are responsible. We are blameless.

And such an immature approach to life is openly promoted at schools, churches, community organizations, and any other place where the system remains unaware of itself and, therefore, scapegoats are needed and created. (For a list of scapegoats, read the well-known by Bertolt Brecht.)

Carl Jung said that you don’t solve your problems: you outgrown them. In think that means you need to reconnect with your true self, so you can find your call and destiny in life. Yet, you can only doing it looking inside yourself with a mind, heart, and will open to transformation.

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February 18, 2018

9:00 PM

La inmadurez individual y colectiva acrecienta las dificultades para resolver problemas

Francisco Miraval

Tras años de observación y autoobservación, honestamente creo que en muchas ocasiones los seres humanos enfrentamos problemas por una de dos razones básicas: o vivimos una vida que no se basa en nuestros sueños, talentos y llamado, o no asumimos la responsabilidad que nos corresponde por los problemas que enfrentamos.

Obviamente, las cosas no son tan sencillas ya que, por una parte, nos vemos constantemente bombardeados por mensajes que nos invitan a dejar de lado nuestra vida y a buscar una supuesta vida mejor y, por otra parte, nos vemos constantemente bombardeados por ejemplos de personas en posiciones de autoridad (desde maestros a políticos) que fácil y rápidamente nos enseñan cómo culpar a otros por los resultados de lo que uno hace.

Aún peor, esa supuesta vida mejor, demostrada habitualmente en la vida de los “famosos”, es sólo una fantasía en la que quedan atrapados aquellos que aparentemente viven esa vida. Quiero decir: el “glamur” desaparece al ir más allá de la alfombra roja y de las fotografías manipuladas y enterarse las situaciones miserables que enfrentan muchos de los “famosos”, a pesar de su dinero y de su fama.

En definitiva, se nos invita a comprar carros, cosméticos, perfumes, vacaciones, relojes, ropa y zapatillas para parecernos a caricaturas humanas, a máscaras, a personajes de ficción, a ilusiones mentales que engañan nuestra mente y nuestro corazón y que, al hacerlo, nos alejan de nuestro propósito y misión en nuestra propia vida.

Nos comparamos con algo que en realidad no existe buscando llegar a ser lo que jamás seremos y luego nos frustramos por no haber alcanzado lo que siempre estuvo más allá de nuestro alcance porque era sólo un espejismo, no una realidad.

Y a eso se suma la constante búsqueda del tradicional “chivo expiatorio” de nuestros problemas, una lista que incluye a todo y a todos, desde nuestros padres hasta Dios y toda otra realidad y persona en el medio. Todos tienen la culpa por lo que nos pasa, menos nosotros mismos.

Obviamente, existen circunstancias que sobrepasan toda decisión personal e incluso toda decisión humana. Pero vivimos en una época en la que no nos hacemos responsables de nada, ni a nivel personal ni a nivel colectivo. “El otro” (el expresidente, la oposición, el jefe o el patrón, el esposo o la esposa, el mecánico, el médico) es el culpable. Nosotros no lo somos.  

Y esa inmadura actitud de esquivar la responsabilidad propia se enseña abiertamente en las escuelas, las iglesias, las organizaciones comunitarias y casi en cualquier otro lugar en el que se oculta el sistema del que formamos parte y, por eso, se busca a “culpables”. (Léase la conocida “lista” alguna vez compartida por Bertolt Brecht.)

Carl Jung decía que los problemas no se resuelven, sino que se los supera madurando, es decir (agrego yo) reencontrándonos con nuestro verdadero ser y, por eso, con nuestro llamado y destino. Y esa tarea sólo se logra mirando seriamente hacia adentro, al interior, con mente, corazón y voluntad abiertos al cambio.

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February 11, 2018

7:25 PM

Keeping obsolete ideas prevents me from seeing the present and building the future

Francisco Miraval

I recently had a problem with my car insurance company. I needed a certain document from them, but they never returned my calls. As expected, my frustration began to grow, and it did intensify with each unanswered call or message.

Since nobody returned my calls, I went to the company’s web site, only to discover my password (which I knew it was the correct one) was not accepted. It took me several minutes to get a new password. I entered the site and searched the document I needed, but it wasn’t there.

I searched for my document in several places, but, not finding it, I had to do the only thing I didn’t want to do: I had to call customer service. I did it. I for a long time to be able to talk with somebody who, obviously, transferred me to another person who in turn transferred me to yet another person. She did listen to me and, once again, she put me on hold.

My frustration was rapidly growing, reaching undesirable levels. After all, why something so simple as downloading a document was now a complicated task? Finally, the customer service representative returned to the phone and, not surprisingly, I was put on hold again.

I was ready to hang up and forget about the document. However, I needed that document, so I had to wait. This time, I got the answer in just a few minutes.

“Mr. Miraval”, she said, “the reason why you can’t find the document you are looking for in our web site is because you are no longer doing businesses with us. You closed your account five years ago. You now have a different insurance company and you are calling the wrong company”.

This time, I was not upset with the company, but with me. I thanked the customer service representative for her patience and then I asked myself the obvious question: How can I be such a fool?

Even a short answer will be longer than this short column. Regardless, my foolishness emerged from two elements: clinching to an idea or belief from the past and not challenging the validity of that idea or belief in the present.

In the case of my experience with the “wrong” insurance company, somebody took the time to correct my mistake and just a few minutes later I went to the “right” web site and easily found and downloaded the document I needed.

Yet, how many more beliefs, ideas, dogmas, creeds, or ideology I still carry with me, without ever challenging them, not even after they became obsolete and irrelevant for my present, and, even worst, because it is dangerous to keep them? And who can help me to awake from my mistakes?

Perhaps nobody should help me because I had to do it alone. It is a process of self-discovery, a challenge of enormous proportions for those who live at a time when everything around us is enticing us to forget who we truly are.

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February 11, 2018

7:24 PM

Aferrarme a creencias obsoletas me impide ver el presente y construir el futuro

Francisco Miraval

Recientemente tuve un problema con la compañía de seguros de mis automóviles: necesitaba que me enviasen un documento, pero ni siquiera me respondían. Y, como era de esperar, mi frustración comenzó a intensificarse con cada llamado y mensaje sin respuesta.

Básicamente, los llamados telefónicos nunca fueron respondidos y, cuando fui al sitio web de la compañía, no pude ingresar porque la contraseña no era aceptada. Me llevó varios intentos hasta obtener una nueva contraseña y finalmente pude llegar a la sección del sitio web para descargar el documento que yo necesitaba, pero el documento no estaba allí.

Tras buscarlos en varios otros lugares, finalmente decidí hacer lo que yo no quería hacer: llamar por teléfono a servicios al cliente. Luego de una larga espera (demasiado larga), finalmente alguien me respondió y, obviamente, me transfirió a otra persona, que a su vez me transfirió a otra persona. Y por fin logré hablar con alguien que entendió mi problema… y me puso en espera.

Mi frustración estaba alcanzando niveles indeseables. Después de todo, ¿cómo puede ser que algo tan sencillo como descargar un documento se transforme en algo tan complicado? La representante de la compañía volvió al teléfono y me pidió que una vez más explicase mi problema. Y una vez más lo hice, sólo para ser puesto otra vez en espera.

Debo confesar que en ese momento yo ya estuve a punto de terminar la conversación, pero, necesitando el documento, decidí esperar. Y la espera esta vez fue más corta y mucho más directa.

“Sr. Miraval”, me dijo la representante, “la razón por la que usted no encuentra en nuestro sitio el documento que usted busca es que usted ya no hace negocios con nosotros desde hace casi cinco años. Usted cambió de compañía de seguros y ahora está llamando a la compañía equivocada”.

Mi nivel de frustración volvió a elevarse, pero esta vez se dirigió no a la compañía, sino a mí mismo. Le agradecí a la representante por su paciencia y, tras la conversación, me hice la pregunta obvia: ¿Cómo puedo ser tan tonto?

Una respuesta corta sería más larga que esta columna. Pero lo cierto es que mi necedad surgió de dos elementos: aferrarme a una idea o experiencia del pasado y no desafiar la validez de esa idea o creencia.

En el caso de mi experiencia con la compañía de seguros, alguien logró hacerme ver mi error. Por eso, en sólo unos pocos minutos después de esa conversación, pude fácilmente obtener el documento necesario en la compañía correcta.

Pero ¿cuántas otras ideas, creencias, dogmas, credos o ideologías todavía llevo conmigo, sin desafiarlas, aunque ya se han vuelto obsoletas y no solamente son irrelevantes para mi vida presente, sino que incluso resulta peligroso mantenerlas? ¿Y quién puede ayudarme a despertar de mi ignorancia?

Quizá nadie puede ayudarme porque quizá se trate de un proceso interno de autodescubrimiento, el desafío más grande que podemos enfrentar en una época en la que todos nos invita a olvidarnos de nosotros mismos.

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February 11, 2018

7:23 PM

Aferrarme a creencias obsoletas me impide ver el presente y construir el futuro

Francisco Miraval

Recientemente tuve un problema con la compañía de seguros de mis automóviles: necesitaba que me enviasen un documento, pero ni siquiera me respondían. Y, como era de esperar, mi frustración comenzó a intensificarse con cada llamado y mensaje sin respuesta.

Básicamente, los llamados telefónicos nunca fueron respondidos y, cuando fui al sitio web de la compañía, no pude ingresar porque la contraseña no era aceptada. Me llevó varios intentos hasta obtener una nueva contraseña y finalmente pude llegar a la sección del sitio web para descargar el documento que yo necesitaba, pero el documento no estaba allí.

Tras buscarlos en varios otros lugares, finalmente decidí hacer lo que yo no quería hacer: llamar por teléfono a servicios al cliente. Luego de una larga espera (demasiado larga), finalmente alguien me respondió y, obviamente, me transfirió a otra persona, que a su vez me transfirió a otra persona. Y por fin logré hablar con alguien que entendió mi problema… y me puso en espera.

Mi frustración estaba alcanzando niveles indeseables. Después de todo, ¿cómo puede ser que algo tan sencillo como descargar un documento se transforme en algo tan complicado? La representante de la compañía volvió al teléfono y me pidió que una vez más explicase mi problema. Y una vez más lo hice, sólo para ser puesto otra vez en espera.

Debo confesar que en ese momento yo ya estuve a punto de terminar la conversación, pero, necesitando el documento, decidí esperar. Y la espera esta vez fue más corta y mucho más directa.

“Sr. Miraval”, me dijo la representante, “la razón por la que usted no encuentra en nuestro sitio el documento que usted busca es que usted ya no hace negocios con nosotros desde hace casi cinco años. Usted cambió de compañía de seguros y ahora está llamando a la compañía equivocada”.

Mi nivel de frustración volvió a elevarse, pero esta vez se dirigió no a la compañía, sino a mí mismo. Le agradecí a la representante por su paciencia y, tras la conversación, me hice la pregunta obvia: ¿Cómo puedo ser tan tonto?

Una respuesta corta sería más larga que esta columna. Pero lo cierto es que mi necedad surgió de dos elementos: aferrarme a una idea o experiencia del pasado y no desafiar la validez de esa idea o creencia.

En el caso de mi experiencia con la compañía de seguros, alguien logró hacerme ver mi error. Por eso, en sólo unos pocos minutos después de esa conversación, pude fácilmente obtener el documento necesario en la compañía correcta.

Pero ¿cuántas otras ideas, creencias, dogmas, credos o ideologías todavía llevo conmigo, sin desafiarlas, aunque ya se han vuelto obsoletas y no solamente son irrelevantes para mi vida presente, sino que incluso resulta peligroso mantenerlas? ¿Y quién puede ayudarme a despertar de mi ignorancia?

Quizá nadie puede ayudarme porque quizá se trate de un proceso interno de autodescubrimiento, el desafío más grande que podemos enfrentar en una época en la que todos nos invita a olvidarnos de nosotros mismos.

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February 4, 2018

7:49 PM

Ancient Greeks traveled to America and Mayans built a megalopolis in the jungle

Francisco Miraval

When I was still a college student, a History professor said many times that, according to Ptolemy, Phoenicians and Romans frequently came to the Americas, either to Brazil or to Ecuador (in this case, looking for minerals.) To that list of transatlantic travelers, we should now add the Greeks, who apparently visited Canada two millennia ago.  

According to Dr. Hector Williams, of the University of British Columbia, a new understanding of a text by Plutarch (a Greek writer and biographer, 46-120) seems to indicate that when Greeks talked about “a great continent” (or territory, or country), they were actually talking about the American continent and, more specifically, Newfoundland, Canada.

It is said that there is no “concrete evidence” those trips ever tool place. However, Williams is working with experts in Greece to see if transatlantic journeys were possible in ancient times and, if they were, where modern researchers should look for evidence and what kind of evidence could be found.

Keep in mind Phoenicians traveled around the Mediterranean Sea 2000 years before the Greeks supposedly traveled to Canada. And, by the time the Greeks came here (in the 1st century), Greeks have been using for at least 200 years portable “computers” to measure the movement of planets and stars, thus measuring the position of a ship. Such a mechanism was found a century ago at a sunken ship in Antikhytera.

In addition, it is worth noting that Kepler, the famous 17th century astronomer, also concluded after reading Plutarch that ancient Greeks traveled to America.

It is unlikely Greeks ever met the Mayans, but, according to a recent story by National Geographic, Mayans built a huge city (more than 60.000 structures) in what it is today northern Guatemala. In fact, there was a previously unknown network of cities in the region, where there where “millions of more people” than what researchers estimated before.

Thanks to advanced technology (LiDAR), researchers investigated ten areas in northern Guatemala, discovering homes, palaces, temples, and even raised “highways”. They now say Mayans were one of the two biggest societies ever established in the tropics, being Angkor Wat, Cambodia, the other one. And they say Mayan culture was as sophisticated as Chinese or Greek cultures.

So, we can say that it is probable that 2000 years ago Greeks visited America (at the same time that Romans also came here.) And we can say that it has been proven that 1200 years ago a sophisticated Mayan culture existed in Guatemala, almost forgotten until now, yet certainly among the greatest cultures in history.

Therefore, we need to ask, how many other moments of our own past, the human past, we still don’t know? And, how many wrong ideas we still have about our history because we don’t know our whole history?

In the same way that small children are mostly unaware of the history of their own parents (or of the world), perhaps we, an immature civilization, are just now and very slowly beginning to understand our own past.

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February 4, 2018

7:47 PM

Los griegos antiguos viajaban a América y los mayas rivalizaban a los griegos

Francisco Miraval

Cuando yo todavía estaba tomando clases en la universidad, un profesor de historia insistía que, según Ptolomeo, los fenicios y los romanos frecuentemente viajaban a las Américas, los unos a lo que hoy es Brasil y los otros a lo que hoy es Ecuador. Y a esa lista ahora habría que agregarles los griegos quienes, según parece, habrían viajado a lo que hoy es Canadá.

Según el Dr. Héctor Williams, de la Universidad de Columbia Británica, una relectura de algunos de los textos de Plutarco (escritor griego, 46-120) indicaría que, cuando se habla de un viaje de los griegos a “un gran continente” (o territorio, o país), ese “continente” sería América, y más específicamente el este de Canadá.

Y aunque no existe (o así se dice) “evidencia concreta” de que esos viajes jamás se realizaron, Williams está ahora trabajando con expertos griegos para determinar si esos viajes transatlánticos de la antigüedad eran posibles y, si así fuese, dónde podría buscarse la evidencia para verificarlo.

Sin embargo, los fenicios ya viajaban por el Mediterráneo (y posiblemente aún más allá) 2000 años del supuesto viaje de los griegos a América. Y para el siglo 1, cuando según Williams los griegos realizaron ese viaje, los griegos ya contaban con el famoso mecanismo de Antikhytera, una especie de computadora manual portátil para determinar el movimiento de los astros (y, por ende, determinar la posición de un barco).

Dicho sea de paso, Kepler, el famoso astrónomo del siglo 17, ya había llegado a la misma conclusión al leer a Plutarco: los griegos antiguos viajaron a América.

Sea como fuere, información difundida hace pocos días por National Geographic revela que en lo que hoy es la selva de Guatemala alguna vez existió una red de ciudades mayas interconectadas, hasta recientemente desconocidas, en las vivían “millones de personas más de las que previamente se pensaba”.

Usando la más alta tecnología disponible para estudiar diez áreas de la selva del norte de Guatemala, los investigadores detectaron 60.000 estructuras nunca antes estudiadas, incluyendo casas, palacios y carreteras, por lo que se considera ahora a los mayas como una de las dos mayores sociedades jamás establecidas en zonas tropicales (la otra es Angkor Wat, en Camboya), y una cultura comparable en sofisticación a China y a Grecia.

En definitiva, es probable que hace dos milenios los griegos venían a América (y los romanos también lo hacían) y es seguro que hace 1200 años existía en Guatemala una cultura hoy mayormente olvidada, pero del mismo nivel que las más grandes culturas del pasado.

La pregunta entonces es: ¿cuántos otros momentos de nuestro propio pasado y del pasado de la humanidad aún desconocemos? Y, por eso, ¿cuántas ideas equivocadas tenemos de nuestra historia y de nosotros mismos, basadas en nuestra ignorancia?

Quizá de la misma manera que a los niños pequeños les cuesta entender que sus padres (y el mundo) tienen una historia de la cual ellos (los niños) poco conocen, nuestra inmadura civilización aún se niega a entender nuestra propia historia. 

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January 28, 2018

8:36 PM

I don’t like when science fiction becomes reality (but I am not sure why)

Francisco Miraval

Every time I read a report or press release about something that it was just science fiction and now it is real I feel uneasy, but I am not sure why. It is a kind of existential uneasiness created, I think, because each time one of those stories is published, it increases the fluidity of the difference between fiction and reality.

For example, in the 1990s, the well-known science fiction series Star Trek: The Next Generation presented almost in each episode human-looking robots, or androids, with superhuman intelligence and strength.

And now, just a few weeks ago, researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder announced the development of artificial muscles, with the flexibility of an octopus, the speed of a hummingbird, and the strength of an elephant. Those muscles will be used to create androids in the next few years.

Also, the famous Terminator series of movies suggested that once robots reached a certain level of intelligence, those intelligent robots will become hostile to humans.

According to a recent media story, those robots will need to be just moderately more intelligent that humans to rebel against humans. According to the report, once the intelligent robots achieved a IQ of 100 (barely above the average IQ among humans), intelligent machines will rebel.

Another example. In the first Stargate movie, there is a scene where a chamber is shown inside the Great Pyramid, above the King’s Chamber (where, it is believed, the pharaoh’s body once rested.) At the time the movie was released, the existence of that chamber was speculation. Now, it has been confirmed.

According to an official press release by the Ministry of Antiquities in Egypt, recent scientific studies using the latest generation of scanners detected the “new” chamber inside the Great Pyramid. The chamber, it seems, is at the place shown in Stargate. (Of course, the official press release doesn’t mention the movie.)

Let me share one more example (among many others). In the movie Minority Report, a technology is used to anticipate future actions of people, thus giving information to law enforcement to arrest people for their future crimes, that is, crimes not yet committed. That technology is (almost) here.

A recent report by Colorado State University (Fort Collins) revealed that experts of that university, working with colleagues from other universities, have developed an algorithm that will soon allow (perhaps in just two years) to identify in real time future actions of millions of people all over the world, so law enforcement could arrest terrorists for their future attacks.

So, why I feel uneasy to know that science fiction becomes science reality? I don’t think that it is because imaginary technology is now available and real, but because I would like to know if, given the fact that technology shown in the movies is real, do other technologies shown in those movies (space fleet, time travel, stargates) are also already real?

Perhaps I should simply accept that fiction and reality are just two different states of consciousness.

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January 28, 2018

8:35 PM

Me molesta cuando la ficción se hace realidad (pero no sé bien por qué)

Francisco Miraval

Cada vez que leo una historia sobre algo que antes era sólo ficción convirtiéndose en realidad siento en mí un cierto escozor de impreciso origen, una especie de molestia existencial, generada, quizá, por el hecho que cada una de esas historias confirma la fluidez entre lo que consideramos ficción y realidad.

Por ejemplo, en la década de 1990 la serie Star Trek: The Next Generation, presentaba consistentemente robots de forma humana, androides, con inteligencia y fuerza física superior a los humanos.

Y recientemente la Universidad de Colorado en Boulder anunció la creación de músculos artificiales con “la flexibilidad de un pulpo, la rapidez de un colibrí y la fortaleza de un elefante” que se usarán en la creación de androides en cuestión de pocos años.

Además, la famosa serie de películas Terminator sugería que una vez que los robots alcanzasen un cierto nivel de inteligencia, los robots inteligentes podrían volverse hostiles a los humanos.

Ahora, un reciente reporte afirma que los robots inteligentes no necesitan ser tan inteligentes para para comenzar a rebelarse contra los humanos. Según el informe, la rebelión comenzará cuando los robots alcancen un coeficiente intelectual de 100 (sólo un poco por encima del promedio entre humanos).

Otro ejemplo: en la primera película de Stargate, en una escena se muestra una cámara en la Gran Pirámide de Giza por encima de la cámara donde se supone alguna vez estuvo enterrado el faraón. En aquel momento, la existencia de esa cámara “secreta” era sólo especulación, pero ahora ya es realidad.

Según un comunicado oficial del Ministerio de Antigüedades de Egipto, estudios científicos por medio de escáneres de la Gran Pirámide confirmaron la existencia de una cámara, que, aparentemente, estaría en un lugar similar al indiciado en la mencionada película. (Obviamente, el comunicado oficial no hace referencia a ninguna película.)

Y un ejemplo más (aunque existen muchos otros): en la película Minority Report se mostraba una tecnología que permitía anticipar las futuras actividades de las personas y, por eso, arrestar a criminales por sus futuros crímenes, es decir, por crímenes que no habían cometido, pero que la tecnología decía que iban a cometer. Y esa tecnología ya existe (o casi).

Un reciente reporte difundido por la Universidad Estatal de Colorado confirmó que expertos de esa universidad y de otro centro de altos estudios en Massachussets han desarrollado un algoritmo que permite identificar en tiempo real las futuras acciones de millones de personas en todo el mundo, para que las fuerzas de seguridad arresten a presuntos terroristas antes de que comentan un ataque.

Pero ¿por qué me inquieta tanto que algo que antes era sólo ficción ahora sea realidad? La inquietud no se basa en que cierta tecnología antes imaginada ahora ya es real, sino en el deseo de saber si alguna de las otras tecnologías que aparecen en las películas mencionadas también ya es realidad, como flotas espaciales, viajes en el tiempo o portales galácticos.

En definitiva, parece que ficción y realidad son solamente dos distintos estados de consciencia. 

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January 21, 2018

8:47 PM

Let’s not confuse “reinventing ourselves” with “becoming truly human”

Dr. Francisco Miraval

Somebody recently told me that, because everything is changing so fast and those changes are so deep, it is time for us, humans, to re-invent ourselves and, more specifically, we need to “re-engineering” ourselves to change what we should change and to improve what we should improve in each of us.

At first, I liked the proposal. I thought it was both timely and thoughtful. After all, we al want to be better persons and live better lives. And if we can’t achieve those goals in the current context we are part of, then we should re-invent ourselves, transform ourselves in such a way that day after day we get closer to our goals.

Yet, almost immediately I began to think that “adapting to a new environment” and “reinventing oneself” are not the same thing. In other words, what’s the point of trying to adapt to a system where we get not benefits and we are disconnected from the system because the system itself is marginalizing us?

Let me put it this way: we should not confuse the urgency to re-invent ourselves, so we can improve ourselves with “reinventing” ourselves only to become somebody else or something else, thus losing our own identity and becoming the opposite of what/who we wanted to be. Unfortunately, that’s what is happening to many of us with seemingly unstoppable frequency.

Experts have a name for that situation. They call it an “ecological trap”, that is, an environment we are adapted to live in, but that is harmful for us. We, humans, fall in that trap day after day to the point we eventually accept something as “normal” just because we see it, hear it, or face it every day.

According to a recent study published by Dr. Nathan Kleist in the Proceedings of the Nacional Academy of Sciences, some species of birds in the Western states now live in areas with a high level of noise and contamination (both created, of course, by humans).

Those birds “reinvented” themselves to live in their new environment, but in the process, they developed such a high a level of stress that they lose weight, lose physical aptitude, and become unable to take care of themselves or care the next generation. Of course, this is very similar to what is happening to us, human, in our lives and families.

Learning how to survive inside an “ecological trap” is not the same as “reinventing oneself”, because surviving in a harmful environment only means to prolong a painful agony, knowing very well the agony will continue in the next generations.

By the way, among humans, the “ecological trap” stressing us out is known by many names, including “society”, “economy”, “school”, and others. For that reason, Kafka was right when he described modern humans as repugnant self-conscious monstrosities, but no longer as humans.

Perhaps, then, we should not try to “reinvent” ourselves. Perhaps we just need to become humans and to accept others as humans, hoping it is not too late. 

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