Dorothy L Sayers took a rational view of the world and stressed the causal nature of the universe. She wrote:
War is a judgement that overtakes societies when they have been living upon ideas that conflict too violently with the laws governing the universe…Never think that wars are irrational catastrophes: they happen when wrong ways of thinking and living bring about intolerable situations.
It is important to understand the nature of war — that it is a rational response to intolerable situations which have been brought about by wrong ways of thinking and living. Please bear with me for dwelling on that quote.
Wrong ways of thinking and living are the cause of intolerable situations, and the natural response is war. So if we wish to avoid war, we have to change the way we live and the way we think.
We are not talking about war here. We are primarily interested in development of economies. To understand development, we have to ask what prevents development from occuring spontaneously. Let’s call that the prime hurdle. Then we have to investigate further to determine what in our behavior creates that prime hurdle. Let’s call that the prime dysfunctional behavior. Finally, we need to understand the fault in our thinking which leads us to the dysfunctional behavior. Let’s call that the prime irrationality.
So at the root of it all — whether it is wars or poverty — I argue that there is irrationality. If we are dissatisfied with something and we wish to change that, we need to understand the thinking and find out what is wrong with that thinking and why. This is important because it is the most efficient way of solving the problem — going to the root and addressing the root.
One will have to wake up pretty early in the morning if one had to tackle a problem by painfully addressing each of its symptoms. Instead one could efficiently solve the problem by obliterating the root cause and be done with it.
Let’s go back yet again to Sayers: War is a judgement that overtakes societies when they have been living upon ideas that conflict too violently with the laws governing the universe. One cannot but come to grief if disregards reality for a sufficently long time. Underdevelopment, and its child — poverty — are the result of a prolonged disregard for the laws governing the universe. What we see around us are the children of poverty — the grandchildren of underdevelopment — hatred, ignorance, illiteracy, malnutrition, disease, and so on.
On Tuesday I wrote about the evils fairly common in rural areas. People treat other people (the concept of the ‘other’ changes with the context) with such inhumanity that one is left speechless. My belief is that behavior is a rational response to an intolerable situation. If one wishes to see an end to that sort of thing, one has to change the situation. To change the situation, we need to understand what causes it.