Though highly technical and written in the language of neuroscience, Ferri et al’s (2013) paper is very interesting, I must admit. It was able to present a view in contrast with the mainstream misconception – that emotion is not irrational, is not inferior to reason, is not insignificant and should not be dismissed. Rather, it plays an integrative role in our everyday existence and day to day actions.
In the case of Mary Jane, for instance, reason dictates us to respect the supremacy of law – thus blinding us of its loopholes, of its inherent flaws and contradictions, of its cruelty, rigidness and inhumanity. This is how they define civilization – a beastly, artificial world that drags people to the gallows of heartless execution.
Emotion, on the other hand, made us see that the supremacy of law is not absolute. That it can be revised through compassion. That if the dictum of the law is oppressive, anger and dissent becomes a necessity. It makes us hope that kindness would take over and the executioners will not pull the trigger and Mary Jane could go home to her children in flesh and blood and alive.
I think the uncontested notion of reason’s superiority made us savages, cowards and barbaric in its own way. It made us fear disobedience, even if it is the right course of action in the face of adversity. Military men resort to different methods of torture in extracting information from a prisoner, reasoning that it’s their job. Landlords grab the lands of peasants, appealing to political power and reasoning that legally it belongs to them, thus resulting in the unequal distribution of wealth. SM Corporations displaced the communities in order to build condominium units that majority of the populace cannot even afford, reasoning that expansion is needed for profit generation; disregarding homelessness.
Certain international organizations refuse to take a stance about significant issues, such as the execution of Mary Jane, reasoning that it could harm their brand or human life isn’t included in their core values. It made them cower in the illusion of press release and good images in this exploitative system. Reason made people create this new trend of contentedly providing band-aid solutions to the diseases of society, and it made us fear the precise requisites to cure the root causes of these horrors.
To obtain oil, surplus market, new territories and other natural resources that would be commodified to satiate the demands of consumerism, reasons make us tear a hole in our flags and let it bleed. It blinds us from understanding the degrees and depths of the struggle and bravery of people residing in the margins of this exclusive society.
Reason made us cynic and skeptical and arrogant, and drowned us to the belief that we, humans, are rational being – we are not. Reason even failed to make us realize that the act of falling in love is one of the tragedies a person could ever encounter in this lifetime.
Emotion, however, makes us long for places that doesn’t exist, for the times gone past, parallel universes and second chances. It makes us kind and genuine and compassionate, as if life did not break us, time and again, along the way. It retains, deep within, our inherent goodness, people as soft as water.
Perhaps due to mirror mechanism, emotion even makes us smile back to a stranger who smiles at us while we were walking in some alleyway. It translates comprehension even without summoning a phrase. It makes us ride random buses, and it makes us hope to end up in some strange and unfamiliar places.
Things like these make life worth living.