BELIEFS AND THEIR CONFIRMATION

Please first read the summary in The Habitual Ruts of Secrurity and Pleasure.

INTRODUCTION

Animal Identity

Animal identity is based on their inner body feeling. They have and give mutual confirmation within their social group and usually identify with their territory. In addition, their relationship with the world is experienced and understood by both the
 broadband "Broadband" describes how animals sense their entire local environment, without focusing on any specific part of it.
and focused use of their senses.

The Modern Human Animal

Modern day humans feel and sense themselves and the world around them, quite differently to other animals.

Mankind was successful as a species, because we learnt to focus with our minds and think. We developed memory systems with abstract words and symbols. This was a new way of experiencing and understanding life.

We secured our survival and overcame our angst and insecurity by being clever and creative. This was a new level of understanding, and being in the world. A level of making connections between abstract ideas ... Quite different habitual ruts to those of animals.

We'd have imagined, by adding abstract thought to our basic feeling of reality and personal identity, we would be far more successful and happy than other animals. For a short three million years, it seemed to be working out well.

But recently, suddenly, we have developed enough bombs to destroy all life on the planet, and with an ever-increasing variety of methods, we are destroying animal species, our environment and ourselves.

Modern man has lost and we are ignoring part of how animals managed to survive for billions of years. And simultaneously our existence has become more insecure than it ever was. This is more than just a coincidence.

Beliefs and Their Confirmation

Over time, we started focusing more and more on ideas. And from the first ruminations on the meaning behind the sun and the moon, or a flash of lightning, till ''why am I?'' and ''what is death?'', we developed beliefs.

And when we found Gods to believe in, the relationship between individuals, their groups, and the whole universe, became secure or at least negotiable. Since humans developed beliefs, they gave our lives meaning, they became the central priority for our sense of reality, identity, security, purpose, and even hope. They became our central focus points in life.

Human cultures passed ideas and customs down through thousands of generations. And up to a few hundred years ago, even though humans were often hungry and cold, we lived with a social consensus of dress codes, language, ideas, beliefs and opinions. We were psychologically secure and safe.

Our sense of belonging and identity was found within our social group. The communal identity within our group, with each other and in relation to a big picture of the world, was confirmed by each other.

And it felt so good to know who and why we were, that generations of children were reassured as we retold our culture's stories. The stories and beliefs gave people and cultures their integrity, meaning and purpose. And any comparison with neighbouring cultures and their stories, merely reconfirmed each cultures' individual identity.

In ancient cultures, the beliefs united a tribe. And it really didn't matter much if we all believed we were living on the back of the Great Turtle, or, that the stars were the children of the sun and the moon – because for our sense of identity and security, the confirmation of the tribe was more important than the truth. Like most other animals, our survival depended on the unquestioned feeling of belonging in a group.

It's worth stopping there for a moment – the confirmation of the tribe was always far more important than the truth. We don't need to prove that honey tastes good, and we don't need anyone else's opinion about if fire is hot. But in our abstract world, the only way to confirm thoughts is with another being who understands such abstract thoughts.

However slowly, over the last few centuries, we started questioning all our old truths and now we have lost the mutual confirmation of our social group.

And as a direct result of this development, these days our beliefs are insecure in a way no human in any previous culture has ever experienced, or even imagined, and so regardless of our modern material security, we all still feel insecure.

The Lack of Mutual Confirmation

The mutual confirmation of our tribe has disintegrated, and with the modern multiplicity of beliefs, there simply isn't enough mutual confirmation to go around, and there never can be. Our modern fight for survival has continued, in the abstract dimension of beliefs, ideas, and opinions.

And each individual has their own habitual self repeating ruminating ruts, always thinking, as though desperately trying to confirm their own beliefs, ideas, and opinions, by their constant repetition. We have reached a point of critical overload.

Beliefs used to unite local cultures; now, in our global world, they divide. Even in our immediate locality, neighbours, even family members have opposing beliefs and opinions.

Our modern liberal thinking to socially integrate and contain the diversity of beliefs – rather than infallible rulers forcing a consensus of ideas – is a great step for civilisation. But, respect for someone else's beliefs, even rejoicing in the variety of modern beliefs, is only a shadow of the mutual, united, unquestioned confirmation of all the members of my entire local social group.

And so, regardless of our modern material security, we feel psychologically insecure. Perhaps we cope admirably, but all the time, we are coping with a form of insecurity which no other animal or pre-modern human has ever experienced or even imagined.

Our present day feelings of angst and insecurity operate on an entirely different level to animals. We don't need to worry about getting eaten alive, to feel secure in our modern world we need confirmation for our beliefs and ideas. And when we feel unsafe, it's because of psychological or abstract reasons.

After an astounding million-year-long history of focusing with our thoughts and senses for our survival, our human survival strategy has reached a point of critical overload.

In our modern diverse culture, the endless need for confirmation, on an individual and cultural level, causes worry and suffering in a way that no animal or early human could ever imagine. And the search for abstract security, identity and confirmation is self-perpetuating. It's become its own cause, always generating more of itself. It's exponential.

A few individuals seem to find a relative degree of satisfaction in their lives, we admire such people. Some have public respect and feel confirmed (or appear so) in their social image, but even this is usually dependent on having even more recognition. The search for confirmation in modern culture, is relentless and self-perpetuating. It is a recent, common, extremely uncomfortable, cultural habitual rut.

To get everything modern civilisation offers, we had to focus on it, and this had amazing advantages, it was all, or mostly, good. But now in these crisis times, the only thing we can think of doing, the only thing we know, is focusing even more. We are all experiencing the effects of overcompensating with an inappropriate habit.

We are collectively suffering the effects of Displacement Activity. This is the name for the illness animals suffer when they feel insecure, and they over compensate with habitual but inappropriate, sometimes self-destructive activities.

There are lots of areas i still question about this – i don't know all the ways humans over compensate for their present form of collective psychological insecurity. But we know that every system, machine, or life form, under stress, works harder to compensate, and then through overwork and friction gets broken sooner rather than later.

And, our present cultural chaos has all developed through a few thousand years long process of encouraging a one sided use of our actual physical senses. And nowadays we are overfocusing, and we hardly ever sense life or the world in the
 broadband "Broadband" describes how animals sense their entire local environment, without focusing on any specific part of it.
way any more.

Please continue with Displacement Activity

Back to Chapter 3 : Civilisation's Habitual Ruts