Back in the day, a few million years ago or so, give or take, life was simple. Brutal but simple. Survival was the name of the game.
Tigers, bears and other predators, fire, drought, floods…all the things that could kill us, created what was important for us to notice. Conclusions about race, religion, morality and ethics… and what we should have for breakfast, all spawned from a basic survival instinct.
Throughout history: racism, belief in the flat earth, dragons, religion, marriage, medicine, education, government, leadership. Myths and legends, gods and demons, right and wrong.
Our minds are not evolved to give us a detailed and accurate perception of reality, but rather a quick and evolutionarily effective method of survival. This manifests itself in the overwhelming desire to draw conclusions about things, with only the minimum amount of data that feels comfortable.
When religion was the main cohesive factor in most civilizations, the beliefs consisted of conclusions about all parts of our natural world and the people and animals living in it with us. From the beginning, the easiest thing was to join the team and act in accordance with the team’s conclusions…
‘The other teams are bad, the other teams want to steal our food, the other teams want to steal our women…we should kill the other team.’
We can see how all these mechanisms may have served us well in the basic job of survival. It’s kind of a shoot first ask questions later methodology. Transplant that to 2019 with the Internet and social media, and this age old methodology does one thing better than anything else. And that thing is; creating enemies. Creating an enemy is a conclusion that allows all kinds of liberties to be taken in opposition to what would be classified as critical thinking. We can classify someone or some thing in a way that allows us to not only fit that within our own narrative, but to justify actions based on that narrative.
“ This person is XYZ” therefore any action is permissible because our conclusion is that a perception of evil… overrides any personal liberty or accountability… and requires no more evidence than the conclusion itself. So, the same instinct that told us the right thing to do was to run from the sabertooth tiger now allows us to condemn an individual because we don’t like what they say…. and classify it as evil.
This process is largely passive and goes unnoticed by our conscious mind. It can be exercised with no preparation as we have concluded that we are right…and re-examining that conclusion doesn’t feel helpful to survival, but threatening to our view of the world.
Obsession and compulsion to follow this age old instinct is what causes almost all of the confrontation in the world. If we could operate with working theories, rather than conclusions…it would leave us open to countless more possibilities and eliminate so much personal confrontation, it would seem like a different world.
I’m going to explore some ideas ‘real time’ in each installment, and will welcome all input.