Often, we humans, especially in the modern western world, like to pretend that how we perceive the world is superior to all other living things, including other human beings.
That we are the pinnacle of intelligence, sentience and consciousness on Earth.
But I can’t help wondering, what if we’re not? What are we missing due to the way we perceive the Universe? What are we missing due to our predetermined perceptions about the world we live in?
Take this little one:
What’s she/he thinking?
What’s he/she doing?
Saying hello? Threatening me?
I felt a connection to that little spider, like we communicating on some level. Did the spider feel it to? If it didn’t, why did it take that action? The common ‘knowledge’ about something like that spider would be to assume it functions like most ‘beasts’, only thinking about survival, eating, mating… It could not possibly have empathy, sensitivity, kindness, emotion… And yet, why did it take that action? A survival response would have been to run and hide, it couldn’t possibility thought to have threaten something so large and alien, could it? I doubt we’ll ever know what the spider was thinking, unless sometime into the future we develop better ways of communicating with animals… But I’m 100% certain (and those who know me know that I’m not 100% about anything very often) that that little spider and other things that are alive, both big and small, know things we’ll never know. Perceive things we’ll never hope to understand… We could learn a lot from the other life on this Earth, if only we were open to trying to listen to them. Our ancient cultures have a lot of wisdom when it comes to this, we could start with listening to and learning from them.
In other words: Animals are amazing, big, small, one’s we ‘deem’ ‘intelligent’ or otherwise. We are starting to realise that a lot more animals than the traditional domestic ones have feelings, emotions, societies.
Then we also have plants!!! Plants that exhibit behaviors much like animals. Foraging for food, battling for territory, adapting to different predators, cooperating with each other including the sharing resources amongst relatives… And they do it all without a brain, at least definitely without a brain in the way that we understand one…
Now, don’t get me wrong, Humans are amazing too. The way we perceive the world is amazing, when we take the time to slow down and look at the beauty around us it’s truly something to be grateful for. It’s important to keep in mind that our perception isn’t flawless though. Then there is our adaptability, well proven through out our history. The fact that we are still here is a testament to it. That adaptability is simultaneously one of our greatest strengths and our greatest weaknesses. It’s why we can live in so many different climates, it’s why we can have great innovative minds & people who are great at building things along side musical and artistic genesis. It’s why we can adapt to live in different societies and get along with so many different types of people. But it’s also why we can adapt to cultures of control and oppression. In the end believing that this is just how it’s meant to be, this is reality. We collectively believe the stories that are told about the world, adapting to the zeitgeist of our time, doing our best to survive and thrive based on what we perceive the world to be. We select traits that appear to be important for these goals and we do it bloody well, because humans are fantastic at it.
The problem comes when the traits that we are selecting, thanks to how the world is currently functioning, are destroying us as a species and, I would argue, as human beings in general. I personally don’t think it’s any real mystery as to why we have a mental ‘disorder’ epidemic, why so many of us are lost and riddled with anxiety. It’s because our current world forces us to live lives that go against fundamental elements of our human biology and temperament. All the while being constantly bombarded with the idea that if you do realise something is wrong with the world your some sort of werido.
Because of our ability to perceive and then adapt to the world we live in we have thrived. We have become what we are today. But for the exact same reasons we also have the scary possibility of making humans shit. We are self selecting genetic and behavioral traits which are short-term, selfish and dangerous to others and the entire ecology of the world. Indeed contrary to our own species survival.
Now depending on your view of evolution and Darwinism (the theory of Natural Selection) you might try and argue that this has always been the case. Evolution is about competition and selfish acts in order to further ones chances to reproduce, and that’s the way we’ve become what we are today, so why am I whining about it.
The thing is, Darwin was wrong, well not wrong, just too focused on competition. Cooperation is as important, if not a more important element to evolution than competition. Our ability to work together (both with other humans and other animals (And, further to that, our cells abilities to work with certain bacteria, etc)) is a bigger driving force to our success as a species than our ability to fight against them. We are a social animal, that social ability has allowed us create the technology and societies which we hold up as the pinnacle of intelligence, as our human superiority, and yet we are currently fed the idea that it was competition and capitalism that spurred all these great advances. How many times are we fed that business and competition is the source of innovation? This is not an accident, this is part of a purposeful agenda that’s pushed by powerful people and business and it stems back to Edward Bernays again (If you didn’t catch my last blog post, it was about Bernays).
The reality is quite different, all of our major technological advances come from government and cooperation, not private enterprise and competition. Wi-Fi was invented right here in Australia by the CISRO, a government organisation. Computers and the internet itself came from government origins. Business (and capitalism) take Social investment in technology and privatise the rewards. Steve Job’s didn’t invent anything, he took pre-existing technology and marketed it in a neat little package. What he was good at, and what Apple is good at is manipulation and exploitation of people and resources. And IMHO that’s not something we should be celebrating.
Perhaps I’ve gone a bit off topic here, so let’s tie it back in. The point of talking about all this is that we limit ourselves. Our thoughts, our feelings, our actions are all limited by our perception of “reality”… That perception is flawed and we live in a society that’s about re-enforcing and perpetuating this false reality for the goal of power and profit… Instead of questioning the way we perceive it and trying to learn more about the real reality of the situation, helping us grow as a species and people, our society functions to keep us dumbed down and under control.
We are all more than these self serving, profit maximising, competitive beings that Neo-Liberalism says we are… Most of us even know it… We just need to find a way to break free of this illusion being held to our eyes.
Thanks for reading,
I encourage comments & thoughts 🙂
P.S. I’m just going to leave this here: