Life as an interplay of ideas, humanity & reality

Where is it that we stand, as humans? Within all the living realities weaving their ways around us, reflected by our capacity for thought, is it that we’re the ones making decisions? Seeing our versions of that picture and, based on that understanding, choosing what our responses will be. As if “to be human” is to see and to choose.

Not that it’s that simple. Afterall, we exist in realities within which others have already made their choices: systems created by and designed to serve certain interests; bodies of thought we’re asked to accept; assumptions or patterns of behaviour that shape us all before we’re truly able to challenge them. In many ways it seems we emerge in a world crumpled by thought before we’ve the capacity to wield it. (Notes One)

Yet isn’t “life” something we could hope to understand? A picture woven out of history, science and culture into which our own lives are placed; through which our own choices play their part in bringing new realities into existence. That, coming into a world we “can” understand, we have – by various historical paths – been offered this responsibility to decide based on our own grasp of that picture and all its importance. (Notes Two)

How are we supposed to “see” that picture? That complex interplay of global realities into which humans and their ideas have been charting their course over the last few thousand years. How are we to see the truths from the lies, given how much imperfection tends to be peppered through any given person’s experiences, ideas and actions? How are we to draw out the valuable threads and deal with the mistaken ones?

In many ways, it just seems we live our lives within both thought and reality – standing somewhere between the two as we live partly by habit and partly by intention. That so much of what we do is simply carried forward subconsciously as this unexamined tide we once emerged within. As if, all appearing at various points within pre-existing trains of thought, we picked them up to make of them who we are.

Are we, then, merely here to witness the outplaying of the ideas we see around us? To observe all that’s happening and the consequences being set in motion. As if there’s a certain inevitability to the logic of all that’s weaving its way about us. Our actions simply drawn into this flow of “how things are” as the momentum of tradition or expectation sweep us along with their global ramifications. (Notes Three)

Is life to be a story we actively write or passively read, after the fact? Not that it’s easy to understand enough to foresee all the interwoven consequences of our every choice, but can we let uncertainty lead to paralysed resignation? Sometimes it just seems we’re caught in this stream of thought unable to really see what it is we can do about it – the right path, along which we can hopefully find answers to all these problems.

Notes and References:

Note 1: Relationships & our place in life
Note 1: Channels of information
Note 1: Do we need to understand the past?
Note 1: Conversations we agree to have
Note 2: Acclimatisation to a world of meaning
Note 2: The thinking behind technology
Note 2: Culture, thought & coexistence
Note 2: Threads, becoming a united whole
Note 3: Doing the right thing, we erase consequences
Note 3: Passivity, or responsibility
Note 3: Wisdom the world no longer gives?
Note 3: All we’re trying to uphold

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Threads, becoming a united whole

It must be possible that all of life could come together into one big, discernible picture. All our activities, words and ideas emerging as a united whole, if only we could gain the clarity and perspective to see it. On some level, doesn’t that picture already exist?

While we might, inevitably, live life from our own perspective – viewing it through the lens of self, family, community, tribe or nation – it’s just as possible to see from any other perspective. Given it’s all part of one reality, filled with points where our disparate worlds touch, isn’t it strange to think our lives aren’t inextricably tied to all others? Our choices creating impacts we might not see as within our control.

How we see things seems an important question, as don’t we interpret everything in the light of it? Our pre-existing ideas often defining the labels we apply, theories we bring to bear, and conclusions we’re likely to reach. As if, in a way, we see what we already believe: the whole of life somehow conforming – perhaps, at times, distorting – to match itself with whatever we have in mind.

Almost as if “life” is some marriage of objective reality and the world of our thoughts woven around it: some blend of all we can see and all we can think. And, aren’t our ideas generally handed to us? This intellectual heritage of communities passing on their fundamental understanding of life, society, the individual’s needs and how best to meet them.

All these concepts we have to work with seem interesting, especially now they’re standing against whatever concepts those in other places have been using to discuss the same notions. This strange sense in which all our separate “worlds” now run alongside one another and merge together in a complex dialogue. All these ways people in different places or times have carved their reality into words.

Behind all our potentially conflicting ideas on life, though, it’s seeming more true than ever than those lives are closely connected; given all the ways technology has facilitated physical connections across space and virtual connections despite it. As if we’re increasingly living in that one, big picture our thoughts might struggle to match.

What is the web of our thinking? This net of ideas we cast across reality. How are we to grasp all that’s happening, and all that it means from every conceivable perspective? Is it even possible to accommodate diverging viewpoints on the same events? To somehow tolerate other interpretations while still uniting in constructive engagement over our many shared problems.

Is there room in this picture to admit the notion that many believe there’s more to life than meets the eye? That, beyond the physical, there might be broader realities into which our own are woven. In many ways, it seems impossible to say there’s not more in existence than our limited capacities are able to perceive.

As people standing within such free-wheeling complexity, how “are” we to marry our thoughts up with reality?

Notes and References:

Pieces of the puzzle
How much everything is connected
Channels of information
Somewhere between ideals & realities
Culture’s conversation as a way of life
Seeing what things mean
Ways of living in the world

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Wisdom the world no longer gives?

Thinking of wisdom as knowledge known in advance – that which helps us avoid mistakes despite our ignorance – is that simply something this world can no longer give us? The certainty of Western thought essentially “being” that it’s based on what can be known from the evidence surrounding us plus the capacities of the human mind: logic, reason and physical matter.

Isn’t it that we stripped back all of life’s workings? Breaking things down, digging deep into every area, then developing theories that broaden our insights to form a solid enough foundation from which to build. This whole body of knowledge that maps the known world, telling us exactly that can be said about any given aspect of reality – all we can see, feel, hear, touch or experience.

Perhaps it’s the only foundation we could offer ourselves? Having discounted the spiritual – anything unobservable to physical senses – it seems all we’d be left with is to form knowledge of what we perceive and string those thoughts into reasonably all-encompassing theories about life, causality and how we should live it.

Can causality ever be known, though? Can we really foresee all the consequences of this way of life? Can logic come to our rescue in explaining exactly how these disparate actions will come together in the physical, social or moral world? When it comes to human society or the realm of nature, might there be too many variables for this form of knowledge to be truly helpful? Too many ways this could potentially go wrong.

Sometimes it just seems incredible how many aspects of life we’re unravelling to weave in new forms – all this innovation that’s changing the fabric of so many lives and so many places on the face of this planet. Changes seemingly wrought mainly for the purposes of profit or power in some ongoing quest to conquer as much of the world as is possible.

Won’t there be consequences? Things we might wish we had known to avoid in advance. Yet things seem to plough on until something has the force to stop them. So much that could be trodden underfoot or swept aside along the way: lives, hopes, species crumpled up beneath this way of thinking and operating. The answer seeming to be that causality, intention or responsibility cannot be proven.

Could we gain enough clarity to see the ramifications ahead of time? Somehow know in which areas to limit ourselves for the sake of completely unseen consequences in other areas of existence – other places, people or times. Knowing beforehand seems useful as learning after the fact leaves few opportunities for changes. But, as with tradition, how can we ever be sure what’s wisdom rather than caution, control or convention?

Within all this, how can we know? If, in a complex reality, thought can’t necessarily warn us what’s best in advance, are we simply destined to walk paths of confident error, denying responsibility for the consequences trailing behind us, rather than heed the fearful regurgitated whispers of established wisdom?

Notes and References:

Charting our own course
Information might be there, but can we find it?
Responsibility for the bigger picture
Can our thinking match realities?
Gaining clarity on the choices before us
How fast can it all unravel?
Nothing short of everything

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Thought, knowledge & coherent vision

Thinking of how, as humans, we tend to approach the world through thought, deciding what we’ll do on that basis, it can’t be said the ideas we have in mind don’t actively shape the reality around us. Isn’t everything we’re thinking almost always seeping out there, tacitly or implicitly, as our sense of what it all means and how much of it matters? All our actions speaking volumes about our ideas, beliefs and values.

As much as we might effectively “see” the world through thought, it must be that almost all that we do stems from it too – all the unchallenged patterns of behaviour we might’ve accepted from the past; examples we take up from those around us; or independent decisions we may make in the face of such external influences. As if we’re forever accepting or rejecting whatever suggestions are offered. (Notes One)

Isn’t it that, as individuals or societies, we’re essentially mapping the world around us in thought? Filling our minds with ideas as to what each thing signifies, where it sits in the bigger picture and how to be thinking about it. This world of ideas sitting slightly behind reality, telling us what it all means and how we should act in relation to it. A place full of knowledge, understanding and value judgements.

Almost as if reality is surrounded by our thoughts about it – the sense humans have made of it all and ideas we’ve strung together to explain things and help people chart wise courses through their decisions. How we each, in our heads, have pictures of what life “is” from which we’re confidently living our lives and assessing whatever’s crossing our path. (Notes Two)

Where do such ideas come from? In the past, there may’ve been single bodies of thought which almost everyone agreed to abide by – offering a fairly coherent sense of how to live and interpret life – but that seems to have rapidly fallen away. In its place, aren’t we generally making up our own minds? Deciding for ourselves how we’ll define things, judge them and string those thoughts into our own personal conclusions.

How are we to navigate such a world? Can we ever hope to find a coherent worldview we all agree upon? One where each thing holds the same meaning in all eyes, related to everything else in exactly the same manner. A single body of thought that might explain what everything means, why it matters and how we should relate ourselves to it. Isn’t it what we seem to seek? The right answer.

Yet, in this modern world, our separately developed ideas on life now merge into one new global reality – a place without the convenience of simply retelling stories from our own perspective and justifying them in terms of our own thinking. Almost as if we’re being asked to expand our perspective to include countless others, seeing and feeling life through their eyes too. (Notes Three)

Can it all still be integrated into a meaningful, purposeful whole?

Notes and References:

Note 1: Where do we get our ideas from?
Note 1: Can our thinking match realities?
Note 1: The battlegrounds of our minds
Note 1: Education as a breaking away?
Note 1: Everything’s interconnected
Note 2: Do we live in different worlds?
Note 2: The sense of having a worldview
Note 2: Being trusted to use our discernment…
Note 2: Education as an understanding of life
Note 2: Responsibility for the bigger picture
Note 3: Bringing things into awareness
Note 3: Seeing where others are coming from
Note 3: Sensitivity & the place for feeling
Note 3: World, heading for a breakdown?
Note 3: How fast can it all unravel?

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Appealing to human nature or the human spirit

In life, can’t we always choose to go low or high? These two basic options that lie open before us as the paths we might take. Is it possible to ask which is strongest or more reliable? Which might be the firmer foundation for guiding human affairs? Which may be most accessible or appealing as a means of attracting attention? Also, if our collective paths are shaped by such cumulative decisions, where this is likely to lead?

Sometimes “human nature” seems this voracious, self-absorbed source of almost limitless desire. That, left to our own devices, we’d simply want more and more – this basic addictive, compulsive, uncontrollable instinct we have to get ahead, set ourselves apart, look better and possess more than others. As if, beneath the veneer of civilisation, we’re only truly concerned with “us”, however limited or expansive that notion is.

There certainly seems to be that element to us: the drive to survive and hold status or power within our community. This extrapolation of evolutionary theory that places us just ahead of the animals, endowed with more complex brains and destined to use them for our advantage. As if that’s the only option available to us: wield this latest tool as our weapon in that ancient battle. (Notes One)

It’s clearly a powerful force. Sometimes it seems almost anyone can be motivated by self-interest to make decisions against any values they might otherwise hold dear (Notes Two). As if, when push comes to shove, human nature “wins” and any attempt to shift to higher ground is lost. Isn’t it a persuasive motivator? This sense in which any decision can be presented in terms of what “you” stand to gain or lose from each option.

Aren’t we quite controllable, though, when we operate on those grounds? Given how anyone can be profiled, the balance of their interests mapped, to give a clear sense of which buttons, carrots or sticks will inspire them to act any particular way. Looking to human nature, we do seem predictable. We also seem to find it morally justifiable that people would behave that way – as if we can’t really expect anything more.

That said, it seems we still admire those who act on other grounds: whose self-interest is overcome by concern for other principles, people, values and causes. People who, despite any suffering or loss they incur, chose to act in the interest of others to dismantle systems, ideas or prejudices that aren’t serving humanity as a whole. Those motivated, perhaps, by the ideals running underneath the realities of all our lives. (Notes Three)

Isn’t it admirable? That anyone would cast themselves off to fight on behalf of others. That human nature could be set aside in such beautiful ways that rightly inspire us to expect more from ourselves. It seems one “ideal” of human existence: that we’d look beyond the self to the whole.

Why, then, does modern society seem to so insistently and successfully appeal to the other side of our nature?

Notes and References:

Note 1: Systems, their power, whose hands
Note 1: Where do ideas of evolution leave us?
Note 1: Is this the ultimate test?
Note 2: Values, and what’s in evidence
Note 2: The picture data paints of us
Note 2: Values on which we stand firm?
Note 3: Dealing with imperfection
Note 3: “The Measure of a Man”
Note 3: The human spirit

Thinking of how we’re all essentially free to choose whichever paths we like in life, there’s also The incredible responsibility of freedom.

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Value and meaning in our lives

Isn’t the question of what it means to be human one of the first and perhaps biggest we ever ask? In a way, isn’t the whole of life – from youth to old age – our attempt at finding or creating answers to it? This world of theories, priorities, beliefs, practices, attitudes and actions that together make up our response as to what life is and how we should live it.

As if we are, in a way, the answer to our own question: “this” is how we’re living; the faces we’re offering one another; the things we believe matter most or think we can get away with. Society perhaps being the embodiment of our collective, inherited “answer” for how to live. Aren’t we forever being taught, explicitly and implicitly, how we should be valuing all we find around us?

Attempting to untangle the relationship between individuals and society is fascinating (Notes One). Presumably, society “must” be built around the personal and collective needs of individuals? All the things we require, plus all those activities that promise to make our lives better: progress, development, improvement. Everyone playing their part, it seems possible both sets of needs can be met.

Yet, for some reason, it often seems the world – society – doesn’t really value us that highly; that we’re forever trying to earn back or demonstrate our own worth. A topsy-turvy social reality where we’re expected to fight for our worth within these value systems of culture, wealth and security – our status, acceptance and peace constantly being reset in a never-ending climb against novelty, marketing and time.

Is human worth to be the foundation or the product of society? Do we have it as a given, or is this something we’re working our way up to each day? Shouldn’t the answers to such questions be baked into the very heart of society? Woven deeply within all we’re thinking, doing and passing on throughout each moment. Is our foundational assumption that life matters, or can that be questioned? (Notes Two)

Doesn’t the value of human existence need to be the solid, unquestionable bedrock of any healthy society? That life and all that happens to each one of us is meaningful. It seems strange to feel the need to argue that the value of our lives isn’t defined by the social, cultural or economic ideals currently surrounding us – what are those things if not society’s reflection of our worth? (Notes Three)

Taking it back to the individual, isn’t every instance of human life – beyond any flaws, wounds or mistakes – infinitely valuable, precious and filled with unique potential? Each member of humanity, while essentially the same, bearing within them the lived experience of their own path through the undeniably flawed world we created for ourselves (Notes Four).

Maybe it’s not possible to challenge or change this Western value system with its commercial estimations of our worth; leaving us all with the strange task of constantly having to insist on a recognition that could’ve been ours all along.

Notes and References:

Note 1: The self within society
Note 1: Authenticity & writing our own story
Note 1: Mutual awareness and accommodation?
Note 1: Values, and what’s in evidence
Note 2: Do we know what stands before us?
Note 2: Absolute or relative value
Note 2: Losing the sense of meaning
Note 3: The thought surrounding us
Note 3: Where do we get our ideas from?
Note 3: The value we’re giving to things
Note 3: Culture as information
Note 3: Society that doesn’t deal with the soul
Note 4: Personal archaeology
Note 4: Places of belonging & acceptance
Note 4: Understanding what we’re all part of

For thoughts around where we stand in the flow of time and our role in the process of change, there’s Will things change if we don’t make them?

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The thought surrounding us

Isn’t it true that, in many ways, we’re constantly surrounded by thought? Our own thoughts of what things are, what they mean, and how it all ties together, then all these other thoughts people have had or are having around us. This idea that “everything” is either the product of thought or its subject, as humans weave their minds over and about everything that falls in our path.

Maybe it’s “obvious” that, as thinking beings, we would be casting those minds around our environment, but it’s still strange to think that every moment of every day we’re being assailed by ideas, statements and interpretations. This never-ending tide of meaning that flows over us with all we see and hear throughout the day (Notes One).

As if everything’s a sort of embodied thought: something someone once dreamed up, created, distributed to help serve our needs. Life then becoming this landscape of all those things that were here before us – nature, environment, history – plus all those we’ve added since. Realities we’ve come to take up, make our own, build our lives around and upon.

Then, of course, all of the more explicit “thought” that’s thrown our way each day through conversations, encounters, news, social media, and the like (Notes Two). All these voices expressing their thoughts, forming their conclusions, casting their judgements or recommendations in our direction. Each of us drawing on our own frame of reference to speak into other lives and tell those people what to think – what it all means.

Beyond the arguable confusion of now having so many of humanity’s artefacts finding their way into our lives, aren’t we also now living within the strangely critical atmosphere of other people’s perspectives? This ceaseless commentary of everyone judging and labelling everything we’re being shown. As if life itself now has this overlay of articulated human thought we’re all perhaps contributing towards or listening to.

It hardly seems surprising that modern life would be mentally draining in ways previously unknown: living within this proliferation of things and opinions is daunting even in theory. Being surrounded by objects from all times and places – some carrying great meaning, some cheaply produced for the chance of a profit – is a lot to filter through and make sense of. As are all the many, many voices speaking at us each day.

If we take it that it all “means something” – coming out of somebody’s idea of life or some trend within society – trying to piece together the bigger picture of all that’s going on in the world, what people are buying into, and where it’s all leading can seem so overwhelming (Notes Three). And we can’t really say it doesn’t matter, as if enough people believe and act on these things the future becomes a different place.

Being human – capable of thought – within a modern world so full of questionable ideas can’t be easy: each of us, perhaps, tangled in trains of thinking that sorely need us to smooth out and correct them somehow.

Notes and References:

Note 1: Visual language and spaces
Note 1: How ideas find their place in the world
Note 1: Do we need meaning?
Note 1: Attacks on our humanity
Note 1: How much do intentions matter?
Note 2: What is the public conversation?
Note 2: Humans, judgement & shutting down
Note 2: Which voice can we trust?
Note 3: Joining the dots
Note 3: Power and potential
Note 3: Complication of being human
Note 3: Life’s never been simpler…
Note 3: All in such a rush

In a similar vein to all this, Problems & the thought that created them mused over understanding, creating and resolving our problems.

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Freedom, responsibility & choice

In this world full of choices, where exactly do we stand? Are we the ones making choices, having choices made for us, or simply feeling the impacts of choices happening around us? The Western world, in particular, seems to be where a lot of choice is being offered – every single aspect of our lives apparently involving a whole raft of options for us to choose between. What are we making of it all?

Conceivably, it’s a pretty large burden: having to make so many decisions each day can’t be easy on the brain. Deciding between seemingly never-ending variations of quite similar things is perhaps a strange way to be using our minds; and it seems a little questionable where it might lead (Notes One). The chopping and changing between which options we prefer – plus, all the new ones arriving each day – could take up a lot of time.

Then there’s the way all these choices add up. There are presumably huge piles of discarded options somewhere on this planet: all the things we thought we wanted but didn’t; all that others thought we might want, but we didn’t; all we have to get rid of to make space for all the new things we now want. In every way, the fact we face so many choices must multiply up the consequences of all this.

We might, then, be enjoying the freedom of all this choice, but how responsible are we actually being here? If each thing we choose is but one option among many, do we then need multiple versions of each item to satisfy ourselves? Once we’ve made any decision, it almost seems inevitable we’d be thinking of all the options we didn’t choose – wishing we could have them as well.

Modern life seems strange in that we clearly love novelty – there seems an endless demand for more, newer or simply different options by which we might define ourselves or mark the passage of time. The human psyche apparently has an effortless appreciation for variation, beauty and innovation. Which is great, in many ways, but where will it end? (Notes Two)

While this applies quite clearly to the realm of “goods”, how much is it also relevant elsewhere? Flitting between one thing and the next, it sometimes seems we’re losing the capacity to focus on any one thing. Or, to comprehend the consequences of it all. Each thing passes in front of us, catching our eye and drawing up a response, and then it’s simply onto another. As soon as anything’s chosen it risks becoming redundant.

Given we live in a world of finite space, resources and time, how are we choosing to spend it all? How much that might really matter are we potentially losing sight of while distracted by the beauty of choice or burden of managing it? How many situations are we contributing to through all these choices? Creating ripples that become serious problems elsewhere. How responsible are we being with all this freedom we’re offered?

Notes and References:

Note 1: “Paradox of Choice”
Note 1: “Brave New World Revisited”
Note 1: The insatiable desire for more
Note 1: Is this the ultimate test?
Note 2: Detaching from the world around us
Note 2: What if solutions aren’t solutions?
Note 2: Meaning in a world of novelty
Note 2: What we create by patterns of behaviour
Note 2: Making ends meet

Thinking about all these things was also the focus of Too much responsibility?

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What it is to be human

I’ve talked before about life, about the strangeness of how we’re here and capable of understanding the world around us – intelligent beings “reading” that reality and responding in our own, unique way (Notes One). It’s a wonder that children have, but one that’s not often met with rational validation.

Of course, it’s not so intelligent to sit in a state of wonder while the world spins on without you. There’s logic to how we “get on with it” and go about making the most of our own, particular situation – embracing our agency, participating in shared existence, capitalising on opportunities. It’s the stuff of life, essentially.

Hopefully, of course, that “life” engages us in meaningful and purposeful ways: each of our contributions feeding into healthy, sustainable, responsible, caring social realities. Hopefully the world we’re interacting with values us rightly, treating us with respect and calling up the best rather than worst of our nature.

There’s obviously subtext there, as that’s far from the world we’re living in. I’m not sure quite how, and I’m pretty sure it’s largely unintentional, but, somewhat inexplicably, “society” doesn’t seem to really care for its humans. More often, we’re attacked, made to feel inadequate or manipulated beyond our capacity for reason (Notes Two).

And that’s perhaps related to the question that’s “always” been behind social projects: how to bring out the best in people, arrange community in such a way that it “works”, and give individuals true freedom without losing sight of our basic self-interest (Notes Three). Is there a way we can all be free, healthy and safe?

It comes down to this fundamental sense of what it is to be human: we’re all alike, yet all different. In a world of limited space and resources, we draw lines and we fight. Yet, intellectually, we “know” we’re the same – all one big group of humans – so there’s this dissonance, this justification and insistence on taking our own side.

There’s really no answer there, it’s a concept we either accept or we don’t. But, in reality, we do have to live through it: as thinking beings we see these things and have to accept, change or otherwise make peace with life’s undeniable injustices.

All the ways our words, actions and attitudes carry meaning; upholding systems of thought that assign to others lower worth than they inherently deserve. That’s surely the world around us? Imperfection. Inadequate ideas baked into the social, cultural, political, economic structures that shape our lives (Notes Four).

As humans, it’s surely quite rational that we look around us and say “No”? That we would find it difficult to live in a world that represses human worth in all the big and little ways we treat one another. It all counts, all adds up, all paints a picture of what it is to be human. And we – with our wonderful, capable minds – stand within it all; more often than not, struggling to reconcile our own sense of self-worth with the ways of this world.

Notes and References:

Note 1: Some thoughts about ‘life’
Note 1: What are we thinking?
Note 1: The power of understanding
Note 2: Fear or coercion as motivators
Note 2: What would life be if we could trust?
Note 3: The conversation of society
Note 3: Plato & “The Republic”
Note 3: “Quest for a Moral Compass”
Note 4: Imperfection as perfection?
Note 4: Problems & the thought that created them
Note 4: Caught in these thoughts
Note 4: Finding flaws

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Where do ideas of evolution leave us?

Looking at life as a battle for survival can sometimes seem like a strange mentality. It’s this picture of combat, competition, advantage, elbowing others out the way so they don’t get what we need. Developing ourselves to stand out and play our cards right so we make it through. Is it really the only way to be human?

Of course, it’s sensible to play to your strengths. As an individual, it’s our most obvious contribution, easiest path and likeliest shot at “success”. In community, each offering their best card must give society its strongest hand for progress and competitiveness. As if “life” is putting together your best team then playing against others to see who comes out on top.

It’s one way of looking at things. Arguably quite a “masculine” one, as opposed to the cooperative, nurturing perspective most generally characterised as “female”. Not wishing to light the fire under debates around gender, Western society’s evidently been leaning fairly heavily in one direction over recent times (Notes One).

Where does it all lead? Into a world where expressing sensitivity, hesitancy or doubt over the wisdom of modern ways is seen as weakness, while brute force or cold calculation often seem to “win”? To the place of “this is how things are”, “everyone’s doing it”, “we can’t stand back as they get ahead”, or “who’s going to stop me?”. This sense of playing the game using whatever means are available. (Notes Two)

Is this the universe we live in? A place where he who dares, wins. Where there’s no right or wrong, only “what works”. Life as this battleground of everyone striving to get ahead and look after their own – pushing limited interests into the collective space of humanity? Those who make the best of it, the most money or security for themselves, ending up in charge? Safety in numbers and all that.

In a way, perhaps it’s “true”. “If” we conceive of everyone as “different”: belonging to different groups, owning different assets, having something to gain or lose. “If” we look at life expecting to see “a winner” and wanting to be on that winning side; the one pulling strings, holding cards, able to get all it wants while making others accept its terms, values and power.

“If” we split humanity into us and them, perhaps dominance begins to seem “justifiable”? But, “can” we split humanity up? How can we look at another person or community and decide our interests come before theirs? Yet it’s effectively what many decisions amount to: wanting something, taking it, reshaping environmental, social and political realities as we go (Notes Three).

What’s the narrative here? Can we be human if we don’t see others as such? Have we really learnt so little from the past? As ever, these are genuine questions: what exactly are we saying by living this way? We might well argue over evolution from the scientific or spiritual perspective, but, beyond that, where does this thinking leave us from the human standpoint?

Notes and References:

Note 1: “Women who run with the wolves”
Note 1: “Minding the Earth, Mending the World”
Note 1: The beauty in home economics
Note 2: Tell we why I should
Note 2: “The Measure of a Man”
Note 2: Matt Haig’s “Notes on a Nervous Planet”
Note 3: The sense of having a worldview
Note 3: “Quest for a Moral Compass”
Note 3: Economy as a battleground
Note 3: Invisible ties

As a counterpoint to this, there’s always This thing called love.

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