The Master tells the tale of a lake which was called the Lake of Salvation. Any family whose members cross the lake (by stepping on the rocks in the lake) was guaranteed to rid the family of the cycle of rebirths. The lake wasn’t too large. In 40-50 hops on the stones, one could cross the lake. Of course, there is a catch. A member of the family could only do one hop when s/he was of the age of 40. Hence, each new hop needed a member of the new generation in that family. The Master said, “There was always a mist over the lake. None could see more than one leap ahead of them.” He paused before continuing, “What to say of a mind that knows not the scent of a shore?”
We are a species that revels in paradox. We like to uphold our right to choose but also expect that we will choose with complete respect to truth & harmony.
All wrong choices — it is hoped — will eventually be eliminated from the face of the earth by a suitable application of the balm of education.
There is nothing wrong in that hope per se. Where it does get corrupted is in the assumption that awareness & education automagically implies transformation. This has been repeatedly proven to be false (e.g. cancer & smoking, texting & driving, diabetes & high sugar intake).
Education was never supposed to bring about transformation because education cannot eliminate stubbornness or idiocy.
Where we cannot count on education to bring about necessary change, we introduce laws (e.g. making trading of fresh ivory, drugs, etc. as illegal or laws regarding rape, larceny, etc.). But we do not treat every piece of truth necessitating such an urgent treatment. Hence, smoking tobacco will not have laws but smoking marijuana will, infanticide is illegal but culling male calves as part of the dairy industry is legal. This is the paradox we are willing to live with.
Let us take non-vegetarianism. The lame response to the issue of meat consumption & differences in treatment of animals vis a vis human beings is that animals & humans are different. But the same person would object to someone killing his pet parrot or hamster. Then it becomes a matter of personal property. We believe we can own anything & any creature other than a fellow human being (because slavery is abolished else that would be ok too).
It was assumed that education would help rid the “superior” man of the notion that he could own the “inferior” man. It needed a law to make it happen.
Countless studies on the interdependence of human beings & animals/insects/birds, it was hoped, would educate & rid the “superior” species of the notion that he could own & decide the fate of “inferior” species. Species have gone extinct & yet we do not feel the need for a single blanket law against poaching animals (chicken or blue whale). We will wait for each species to cross that threshold of rarity, mark them threatened or endangered & then bring about a law.
If education is insufficient in bringing about transformation why do we continue to hide behind it & hope for a miracle? Since we know (cf. Thinking, Fast & Slow & The Art of Choosing) that we are often irrational & uneducated in our choices, why would we place the right to choose over and above the wisdom of the conscious few? Since the ignorant & stubborn, greedy & idiot are unlikely to make wise choices &, when coupled with power & money, will force others to make unwise choices, why do we regard the right to choose so highly?
We are informed & aware but not educated when we cease to bear in us the ability to choose consciously what is right.
As long as human choice is granted superior status, ethical behaviour cannot be realised. Every proponent of free will & right to choose, chooses to ignore this reality. All education treats history as a painting & the present & future as pliable.
An education that doesn’t place every human being in the continuum of several millenia is not education. It is merely relating information.
We are not our lifetime. Current education indirectly focuses our entire attention & industry on our present lifetime. This mad rush for exercising the right to choose (borne on limited wisdom) within a window of time that is small enough in isolation but crippling in summation.
When all one can see is the set of nearest rocks to jump on, there is very little to guide them regarding the right direction towards the shore. Such choices could leave generations of people jumping around in circles thinking that they are great enough to be saved.
We think education & awareness will bring alignment between choice & ethics. Centuries of experience will still not educate us into the realisation that education doesn’t guarantee wise action & behaviour. What this corrupt world of human beings needs are a bunch of laws to leave the common person to focus on picking between a red, yellow or purple pencil. Sadly, these laws are the only ethics that man can understand & follow.