Based outside of Boston, Massachusetts, The Thought Porch is a personal blog by aspiring novelist Max Ghannam. Posts explore the mind and body, as well motivational thoughts on life and sources of inspiration.

Breaking Biology

People have known what I'm about to say on some level for a long time.

There's evidence of people, such as the Spartans, recognizing that certain aspects of the human psyche can be manipulated or broken in order to train a soldier -- a human being -- to behave in the desired manner of a Spartan soldier. For them, a long, ghastly process yielded soldiers that were nearly fearless on the battlefield. Men that pushed far past their physical body's breaking point. Men that prided themselves on not showing the instinctual expressions of pain.

The Spartans had other forays into tinkering with the human mind, such as using cumbersome rods as currency. A tactic devised in order to deter citizens from coveting money. Clearly, they put some thought into the ways humans inherently behave, and the ways humans need to behave in order to create their ideal society. 

I have no intention of taking anything (ANYTHING) to the extent that the Spartans did, but I am beginning to believe that the key to navigating this modern world, and shaping a functional society of the future, lies in the ability to break our biology.

By breaking our biology, I mean to do anything that is counter to what our body is telling us. People do it all the time when they undertake activities such as sky diving or fasting. Nowhere in our biology is jumping out of a plane for fun something that is hardwired through evolution and nature. Maybe as a self-preservation tactic our body might communicate the need to jump from a high place, but not as recreation. In fact, our biology is more likely pushing us toward comfort than it is towards the massive amount of discomfort that would come from an act like skydiving. 

The role our biology plays in our everyday life may not always be so obvious as the adrenaline rush one gets when looking out the door of a flying plane, but it's ever present. It's in the way we search for spouses -- men being innately attracted to features that denote fertility such as wide hips, and women attracted to traits that signal the ability to provide and protect such as a good career. It's present in the way we give in to the demands our bodies make to procreate. For most people, having children is simply what we do as humans.

Some people's biology is pushing them towards the path of least resistance. Their stomach craves carbohydrates because they are a fuel source that requires least resistance to yield energy from. Their body craves rest, mindlessness, because they are granted the security of not having to complete any physically strenuous activity in order to receive nourishment. 

There are cases of our biology driving our actions endlessly, throughout every single day that we live. Some are not so obvious, while others are undeniable. We have the ability to exercise control over many of them though. All of my points are cases of the human body telling us what it thinks we should do. That doesn't mean it is right. In most of the scenarios, it is equally as acceptable to do the opposite of what your body says. In some cases, it's desired. 

It is my opinion that, as we become more ingratiated into a tech-forward society, where convenience is abundance and challenge lay mainly in how to identify someone's preferred gender pronouns, it is imperative that we find ways to move past our biology. Not past it in a way that makes us less human, but past it in a way that makes us more human, for it grants us greater understanding of what it means to be a human biologically, and what it takes to bypass those instincts in order to function as part of the greater whole of society. 

We've accepted this notion in some instances, such as asking people to get over their fear of public speaking (I've heard it said that this fear is derived from tribal behavior in which having to speak in front of a crowd almost certainly meant pleading for mercy). People jump out of planes and off of buildings, they wrangle snakes and crocodiles, they fast for religion or for fitness, they have children decades after becoming fertile.

Our society is built around instances of breaking biology to the benefit of the human involved. Yet, many people are unwilling to see the population crisis and consider that it might not be in the best interest of the world at large if they, as an individual, brought yet another life into the world. 

Human biology is ancient, mysterious, and magnificent. Our bodies and minds might be the best bit of technology on this entire planet. It's ok to ignore that ancient technology sometimes. In fact, I think it is for the best that we make a habit of doing so in many, many instances, while being careful to not lose touch with our roots, and our environment. 

As Above, So Below

Spring Reflections