Arthur Pahl: The new human being
Midlife crisis. To strip off the old ego – to leave behind the routine and to return as another – a new human being: More sensitive. More understanding. Calmer and more relaxed. More concentrated. Insightful. If possible without medication and still healthy. All due to the change in lifestyle. Is that even possible?
Or the total cyborg. Machine and man in the mode of bliss. Harmony. Durable and painless for centuries. Programmed via chips. Infrared and X-rays. Genetically manipulated and modified. Surely this will happen, and it will work. What does it mean, almost everyone asks? Only young people want to o it, older ones have their doubts. It’s hard for them to even to imagine all this.
With this question in mind, you have to be clear about what it actually means for you to become a new person? The performance is different for everyone. This clearly shows that we have arrived at a generational boundary that differs significantly in what the new human being means to the individual. I did my research among peers in this country. They were all over sixty. The result is something coherent: For us, the baby boomers of the post-World War II generation, it is hard to imagine being only half flesh and blood, while the other half of our bodies are bolted, with metal straps connected and equipped with the corresponding electronic devices, wandering the world. The only attraction for older people in this medical-technical future supply consists of the confidence that pain will be alleviated, perhaps even disappear and yes, also the chance of a much longer life. But most of the people I’ve talked to don’t want to get much older. Anyone who’s over 70 is often at peace with his friend Skeleton. It’s amazing how open people of this generation are towards death. Let us agree on the pain issue and the attractive offer of future robot technologists to escape physical suffering. Everyone agrees on that. The achievement of becoming a new man would be appreciated by everybody, regardless of which generation. Anything beyond that is rejected by most older people today. For them, the terminology “new human being”, is a completely different one, and it consists mainly of an internal, inside change. I remember the many sentences in this context. It is also often said that this or that person came out from this or that situation as a “new person.” There are many examples. Hardly any of these examples have anything at all to do with implants, mechanical body parts or chips. It is mostly related to the anatomy of the flesh and not the consistency of metal. Certainly, it is not wrong to claim that one-third of humanity agrees that the term “new man” is more associated with internal change than with technological achievements.
Here is an example: Recently I saw a report about the Kumbha Mela, the most prominent religious festival in the world. Every 12 years up to 30 million people meet in India for fifty days to share their God experiences. An exhilarating party. I noticed that during an interview an elderly American woman said that she had come here to “better understand God.” A sentence that knocked me out.
I think I know what I’m talking about. In search of becoming a new person, I have spent decades in monasteries and ashrams again and again. From Vrindaban to the Dordogne, from Oregon to Alba de Tormes, from the Himalayas to the Swiss Alps, I slipped into my religious penitential garb and obeyed the orders of my masters. Reciting prayers and chants lingering before me, I was in search of the ” experience of God.” I haven’t understood God yet. And I didn’t become a new human being through it either. But a different one I’ve become.
With all due respect, I don’t want to be misunderstood. I also felt the longing that this older American woman felt. Only, this longing to “understand God” made me come to discernment at some point: To want to understand God as a human being is as if the ant could understand why it got under the hunter’s boots in the middle of the forest. It’s as if the ant were asking itself: “Dear Hunter, please let me understand why you don’t let me stay in my warm autumn foliage hole instead of smashing me dead under your boot now. When I realized that, I gave up trying to understand God. Instead, I faced reality and – even if it was difficult – accepted what is indispensable for us humans. He who wants to become a new man, but can only do so if he can understand God, will NEVER be able to become a new man.
So much for “The New Man” for the generation I belong to, the baby boomers of the post-war era of World War II. We, the older people in this world, have completely different ideas about the topic “The new human being” than the younger generation. Only a few of us can contribute to this topic. For us, the change in people is not comprehensible through modern technology. For the grandpas and grandmothers of the 21st century, Frankenstein formations are film history whose measure does not exceed the entertainment value. We have neither the imagination nor the interest to imagine what the future may bring to man, to prolong the not always so pleasant life in this world. The only incentive I have found in my generation of the same age on this subject is the chance of being able to live without pain. Nevertheless, the mental pain will probably never be overcome without medication.
I believe the difference in the interpretation of generations on the theme of “The New Human Being” is that the elderly cannot really imagine a new man in the manner of cyborg. When they use the expression, they rather mean becoming “another person”, because the “New Human Being” is truly in the sense of the word reserved for the future and its descendants, and not for us, who have already largely put our lives behind us.
And so everything is in order again and everyone understands things the way they suit them right now.