2.16       ndian    onom
            consciously trading off the early benefits              cheat, bluff, deceive, break our word,
            of drug use with the later high toll of                 and kill members of an out-group. We
            addiction.                                              engage in identity politics, acting as cruel
       (xi) We understand that we need a very                       to outsiders as we are loving to our own
            different model of humanity, one in                     group. All these lessons of human nature
            which we experienced complicated                        matter more than ever, more even than
            interplay of emotions and rational                      when the Buddha taught humanity about
            thought, unconscious and conscious                      the illusions of transient pleasures, and the
            decision-making, fast and slow thinking.                Greeks warned us against the tempting
            Many of our decisions are led by emotions               Siren songs that could pull us off our life’s
            and instincts, and only later rationalised              course. For today we have more choices
            by conscious thought. Our decisions are                 than ever before. In the ancient world,
            easily ‘primed’ by associations, imagery,               the choice facing most of humanity most
            social context and advertising. We are                  of the time was little choice indeed—to
            inconsistent or ‘irrational’ in sequential              work hard to secure enough to eat, and
            choices, failing to meet basic standards of             even then to face the risk of famine and
            rational consistency. And we are largely                death from bad weather or bad luck.
            unaware of our own mental apparatus,           (xiii) Today, we face a set of real choices.
            so we easily fall into traps and mistakes.              Should the world pursue GNP to the
            Addicts do not anticipate their future                  point of environmental ruin, even
            pain; we spend now and suffer the                       when incremental gains in GNP are not
            consequences of bankruptcy later; we                    increasing much (or at all) the happiness
            break our diets now because we aren’t                   of affluent societies? Should we crave for
            thinking clearly about the consequences.                higher personal income at the cost of the
            We also understand (again!) that we are                 community and social trust? Should our
            social animals through and through. We                  governments spend even a tiny fraction of
            learn through imitation, and gain our                   the $500 billion spent on advertising each
            happiness through meeting social norms                  year to help individuals and families to
            and having a sense of belonging to the                  understand better their own motivations,
            community.                                              wants and needs as consumers? Should we
      (xii) Human beings feel the pain of others,                   consider some parts of our society to be
            and react viscerally when others are sad                “off bounds” to the profit motive, so that
            or injured. We even have a set of ‘mirror               we can foster the spirit of cooperation,
            neurons’ that enable us to feel things from             trust and community? A recent analyst21
            the point of view of others. All of this gives          of Finland’s school system, for example,
            us a remarkable capacity to cooperate                   writes that Finland’s excellence (ranking
            even with strangers, and even when there                near the top of international comparisons
            is little chance of reward or reciprocity,              in student performance) has been achieved
            and to punish ‘non-cooperators’, even                   by fostering a spirit of community and
            when imposing punishment on others is
            costly or puts us at risk.                     21.   Pasi Sahlberg, ‘Education Policies for Raising
                                                                 Student Learning: The Finnish Approach; Journal
               Of course there are limits to such                of Education Policy, 22(2), March 2007, World Bank,
            cooperation and fellow feeling. We also              Washington DC, pp. 147–171.