We live in a world of subjectivity, relativity, and variability. For us to co-exist peacefully, to work constructively, and to manufacture products reliably, we need to have laws and order, rules and regulations, and understanding and tolerance. Before we can accomplish all that, we need to complete the standards of life. We have already established the standards to quantify the physical world but are still a way to go to quantify the world that separates us from the rest of the animals in Nature:
1) How good is good and is bad the opposite of good,
2) Where is the line that separates right and wrong and is it wrong to do the right thing,
3) Is there a degree of kindness or severity of cruelty,
4) How much patient is a virtue and when does tolerance become a weakness.
To understand Nature's inanimate world and make use of its resources, we learn to establish standards to measure:
1) Temperature – how hot is hot and how cold is cold. What are the boiling and melting points of different materials? How does temperature play a role in the chemical reactions that lead to new and useful products?
2) Weight – how heavy is heavy. To build reliable structures that can withstand the elements, we need to know the distribution of the weight and the load they can withstand.
3) Time - using the spinning Earth orbiting around the Sun as a reference, we learn to standardize the measurement of the passage of time. With that, we can know the age of Earth and the life span of every living thing.
4) Size – how small is small. With that knowledge, we understand that the big Earth is made of mountains and oceans which are in terms made of small molecules and atoms.
5) Speed – how fast is fast. With that knowledge, we establish how fast can a car travel to be safe on a road.
Nature is filled with diversified living things that come in all sizes, shapes, and functions beyond imagination and comprehension. To find out how life works and to find the cures that ail our body, we learn to establish standards to measure:
1) Heartbeat – every living thing has a heart that pumps nutrients in the blood through a circulating system to every part of the body.
2) Blood work - the blood contains not only the nutrients but also chemicals that indicate the health of the internal organs.
3) Intelligence – it plays a vital role in the living thing's survival. It involves solving uncommon problems in a timely fashion.
4) Aptitude - every living thing is good at doing something. This is how Nature works and how we can make Nature works for us.
We, the human species, are the newest member of the animate world. We are also the only living thing who is capable to set the standards of life to comprehend life's meaning and purpose. But, when it comes to the intangible territory of our life, we do not seem to be able to arrive at a clean-cut standard:
1) It is always right to be truthful and honest except when they bring pain and suffering. For example, doctors and family members hold back information about a person who does not have too long to live.
2) A person with a good reputation in solving social issues can be a bad parent at home with domestic issues.
3) A Good Samaritan does the right thing to help people in distress during a traffic accident. The same person can also be a bad apple who does all the wrong things by cheating and lying to gain fame and fortune.
4) The priest who preaches moral values on Sunday can be a sexual predator on innocent souls.
5) The boss of a company is very stingy with the employees but donates all one’s wealth to charity.
No question, there are grey areas. But, we still have to set higher and clearer standards to better ourselves.
We are endowed not only with great intelligence and enormous creativity that enable us to enjoy a living not at the mercy of the hostile environment but also with keen awareness and conscience that prevent us from self-destruction. In the animal world, there is no right or wrong, good or bad, kindness or cruelty. Each living thing does what it knows best to survive the day in an environment that it has no control. On the other hand, we make the environment work for us and the only threat to our survival is ourselves. To mitigate the threat, we have established standards of right from wrong, good verse bad, and acceptable behaviors:
1) In school, the youngsters are taught about the rationale behind the standards and the importance of a harmonious life,
2) In society, the standards are enforced strictly with capital punishments,
3) Through the legal system, the standards are constantly challenged, defended, and revised.
We create the standards of life from nothing to help us understand the how and why of Nature and manage the ways we live in civility, humility, and sensitivity. Our 7000 years of civilization do not happen by chance. They are the results of painstaking and tireless efforts by countless people past and present learning, studying, documenting, and expanding our knowledge about Nature and ourselves