Corruption is in our genes

Corruption is in our genes

The Island:   by A. N. Suranimala

V. S. Ramachandran, the famous Indian neuroscientist who works now in the US, wrote in his fascinating book “Phantoms in the Brain” that belief in a god is attributable to a centre in the brain, the God-Centre, like the Respiratory-Centre in our mid-brain if I remember correctly, that controls our breathing, or the Cardiac-Centre that controls our heart beat. He suggests that if a neurosurgeon were to remove the God-Centre in our brain by the procedure which our surgeons would call a Godectomy, like an appendicectomy when they remove your diseased appendix, then the owner loses his belief in that god. So that would mean that we need not invoke the famous Pavlov to understand why we continue to believe or do things, in this instance having been conditioned by repeated teaching in childhood to believe that such an entity, like our appendix, exists. Nor do we have to accept what neurologist Andrew Newberg and his co-workers, also in the US, wrote about the necessity for humans to believe in gods, in their equally fascinating book “Why God won’t go away: Brain science and the biology of belief”.

These thoughts entered my mind again when we did a trip to Trincomalee and drove along a newly-laid road that had a coat of tar about as thick or thin as a banana skin while the road itself had more stretches of bare soil, than road. I was then convinced that the road engineer who supervised the making of that road or the contractor who made that road, had made “fast-bucks”, i.e. were corrupt. We don’t have to tear our hair out groaning about the corruption in our society, particularly in that breed of vermin like rats, called politicians who have taken upon themselves the task of controlling our dsestiny.. There is nothing we can do about it; corruption is in our genes and we can only hope, as I wrote in my last piece “Just leave the beasts alone….” (May 19, The Island) that when the second Big Bang occurs to blow our planet sky-high, then hopefully all these corrupt persons and our wretched politicians will cease to exist and torment us, thank God for that mercy.

The postulate that there is a God-centre in our brains can be extended to cover the phenomenon of corruption. It must be, I propose (joining Ramachandran in the great game of neuroscience), that humans have a “Corruption-centre” in our brains. We need not consider mass-communication by newspaper and television to explain why corruption has, like a pandemic of measles, covered the entire globe and that includes the big countries, the US and Europe as well as tiny ones such as Dobu Island in the Pacific. I have read that the Dobu Islanders have refined the art of corruption to the extent that the more they cheat, the higher they stand on their scale of social esteem; perhaps they perfected the art during a sojourn in our land.

The other day, at an exhibition of old Chinese paintings, I read the following words written in the mid 17th century to remind us of what the ancient Chinese philosophers, of whom of course Confucius was the most famous, thought. Those views certainly strengthen my belief that Corruption is in our human genes and will be with us till the second Big Bang.

“In the late Ming Period, with corruption rife in the civil service, many men of insights decided to shun officialdom and devote themselves to writing and artistic creation instead”.

“During those chaotic interim years” (The Qing and early Republican Periods), “joining the civil service became first an impossible dream and then a contemptible career for many literati who preferred to direct their efforts to art and scholarship”.

We Lankans can re-phrase the advice “shun officialdom” to say “stop voting for these wretched politicians”, and lay your tormented and frustrated minds at rest because there is nothing that we can do about corruption or measles, they are an integral part of Nature, except enlist the help of an army of neurosurgeons to excise the “Corruption-Centre”, like doing a Godectomy, on the brains of our politicians but a big question is whether our politicians have any brains at all, to begin with?.

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