Foolish to go against ‘natural laws’

WHATEVER your religion or belief, I propose that humankind cannot go against natural laws.

By natural laws I mean those consistent laws of cause and effect, whether long-term or short-term. They also include all those consequences, effects, processes of nature, and all those laws that are not a product of the human mind or mere attribution to divinity (for that could also be a creative product of the human mind).

This is a general definition but the underlying principle is that these laws are consistent in operation and application whether you believe in them or not. They also do not require human beings to prompt or enforce them to work. They operate automatically when a set of circumstances presents itself. They are independent of beliefs, dogma, prejudices, personal preferences and imagination.

For example, you can pray and recite any mantras you want all day long. However, under a certain set of physical circumstances, it is predictable that if you put your bare hands into boiling water for a period of time, you will be scalded and lose the effective use of your hands. Your faith is irrelevant to the physical laws applicable in this case – the temperature and the biological nature of your hands. It would therefore be foolish, even fatal, to use faith or belief to behave in ways contrary to natural laws.

The laws of physics apply to everyone irrespective of your preferences, ethnicity or belief system. This much is clear to any reasonably intelligent mind. Once you understand this, you must “submit” yourself to them, that is, flow with and not against the natural laws.

In the realm of the physical world, and in the scientific mind, there is no dispute over the workings of natural laws. Intelligent people know that drinking water over which some mantra has been mumbled will not make someone pass a mathematics examination if he or she has not studied the subject.

Repetitious chanting is antithetical to achieving a tangible result. Still, there are people who continue with such beliefs. Whether premised on a religion or some other belief, behaving contrary to natural laws is foolish, delusional and will bring about misery.

Natural laws are omnipresent in every aspect of our lives, including the social and political. We have heard the saying that only a fool repeats the same behaviour for 10 years and expects a change in the outcome.

For example, if we have been failing as a nation for the past 30 years and getting worse, we have to pause and reflect on why this is so rather than repeat the same toxic behaviours. Which areas are getting worse? We have to honestly appraise, evaluate and identify the fault areas and courageously fix the problem.

Natural laws require that the process of objective evaluation, appraisal and analysis of possible solutions must be undertaken if we want the future to be different from a failed past. If we fail to do this, we are choosing to continue failing.

However, it is the human being that is going to undertake the evaluative process and not an objective artificial intelligence. Unfortunately, we human beings have our own characteristics and idiosyncrasies that may interfere with identifying solutions.

Hence, if you want to change a political philosophy or government policy, do you think the same people in power over the past 30 years will have the capacity or even the imagination to bring about the needed change?

Even the adage, “the apple doesn’t all far from the tree”, hints at the operation of natural laws. There has to be a change in mindsets, perceptions and circumstances. Also, the person or the community must have the capacity and willingness to execute the change.

It is not enough for some leader to espouse idealistic or Shangri-La notions of society – does that leader even have the capacity to understand what he himself is saying or is he rattling off some well written speech?

The other thing, of course, is that it’s not a good idea to bring about change without knowing what kind of change you want and why. Once again, we must remember that natural laws are indifferent to our intentions or desires. They simply operate and there is never a change in the way they operate under a given set of circumstances.

If we understand that natural laws operate independently of our intentions, human innovations, ideas, belief systems and social, political or even economic constructs, we will be able to see the actual workings of the laws in the various facets of our lives.

From this understanding, we can adjust our individual, tribal or national behaviours accordingly to bring about the best result possible. For example, if nationalism appeared to have worked before, we now realise that nationalism at its core means “us against them” and therefore can never bring about global collective happiness.

Nationalism has been the cause of wars in history. It has also given rise to ugly and delusionary notions of racial superiority and entitlement. In fact, I would propose that the political scientists in our country embark upon examining a different and more workable model of managing a country instead of merely commenting on contemporary political events.

A good model would be one that is globally inclusive instead of the current exclusive and tribalistic model. Of course, it is a challenge, but I would posit that natural laws operate against the workability of the current nationhood model in ensuring global happiness.

That being said, let us focus on the so called low hanging fruits – our collective behaviours in our own country which are against natural laws.

I call upon responsible citizens and the thinking stakeholders of this country to seriously start measuring our collective behaviours – national and individual – against the operation of natural laws.

Are we swimming with or against natural laws?

Senior lawyer Datuk Seri Dr Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos is the founder and chairman of Yayasan Rapera. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

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