HUMAN IDENTITY and its CULTURAL DEVELOPMENTVersion 1.0 Chapter 9
This was part of my developing understanding of our human culture up to the present day chaos. This version is still valid. It's just all rather depressing unless you've read and understood the solution first!
The smugness of the super rich, and proud people with admirable egos, compared to the millions of people without homes, food and warmth, deserves another essay. This essay is written for and about Mr. and Ms. Normal in the developed world.
Animal identity is based on their inner body feeling, and their relationship with and place in the world, as perceived by both the panoramic and focused use of their senses. In addition they identify with their territory, and have and give mutual confirmation within their social group.
THE FIRST GREAT STEPHumans had all that animals have, and then we started developing our abilities with creative thinking. And from the first ruminations on the meaning of the moon and a flash of lightning, till ''why am I?'', we developed beliefs.
When we found gods to believe in, the relationship between individuals, groups, and the whole universe became secure or at least negotiable. This was an enormous step away from our animal heritage. Since humans developed beliefs, they became the central priority for our sense of reality, security and identity.
CULTURAL IDENTITYHuman cultures passed ideas and customs down through thousands of generations. For a couple of million years – even though humans were often hungry and cold – we lived with a social consensus of dress codes, language, ideas, beliefs and opinions.
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.
Foreigners had foreign customs and – if we agreed or not – the comparison gave us added confirmation of our groups' special identity.
And it really didn't matter much if we all believed we were living on the back of the Great Turtle, or, 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 far more important than the truth.
EXPONENTIAL DEVELOPMENTSince the first mammals evolved 180 million years ago, everything started developing exponentially. Especially after humans first appeared around 3 million years ago
Since civilisation began 12,000 years ago, we have learnt to handle copper, bronze and steel; thinking, learning, understanding, writing and education. It seems unnecessary to describe all the developments, i include an anthropological timeline for those who know nothing about it.
Much changed since 1900 with industrialisation, scientific and medical developments, democratic voting systems, social care for the poor, education, freedom of thought, cars, planes, radios, television. And, gradually a multiplicity of problems have developed from plastics, planes, population and pollution.
The ancient spoked wheel deserves special mention. It remained in the same form for almost 4,000 years, until the development of trains around 1800, and then bicycles, cars and busses. So the wheels always go faster, and travel always gets easier, cheaper and quicker for the exponentially increasing poplution, resulting in a cultural meltdown with its ever expanding multiplicity of contrasting beliefs and opinions.
These days, our sense of identity through our territory and the confirmation of our geographical social group, is largely lost. Our cultural identity has destabilised. And we have become increasingly and exclusively identitified with our own individual ideas, opinions and beliefs.
This all leads to a very worrying situation, depressing, and normally avoided in polite conversations ... i wouldn't mention it, except that i think the first step and most basic part of the answer is obvious and easy to do. But first, we have to get deeper into the big depressing picture.
CULTURAL IDENTITY CRISISSince the middle ages, a cultural-social identity crisis started developing. Around the 1900s more and more people rejected their cultures traditional common beliefs, and more and more people have developed more and more individual ideas and opinions.
Modern man understands life with new blends and mixes of psychology and politics, spiritual ideas and philosophies, new forms of 'the turtle', magic spirit bodies, and a complexity of ingenious new theories on human suffering.
Today there is absolutely no consensus of opinion about who we are or our place in the world and purpose in life. And we all see 'the present chaos' differently – and that's the point : we all have our own beliefs and opinions.
And the social confirmation of our beliefs was always far more important than whether they were true or not, even when we all believed in the Great Turtle.
I'd love to sidetrack and say: telling the truth is the only real way to believe in yourself, but for most people it's not, it's having the confirmation of those around you, it always was.
CONFIRMATIONAnd so, now there's a new exponential vicous circle going on with confirmation. We all want confirmation (lit: with belief). Call it trust, loyalty, love, someone being there for us. We want someone to believe in and we want people to believe in us.
But the increase of contrasting ideas and opinions in our environment, and the need for self confirmation, are in opposition. There simply isn't enough mutual confirmation to go around ... And so, the need to confirm our ideas and opinions escalates exponentially, with everything else.
Any trace of the original animal sense of belonging is long gone; and now we have even lost the mutual support of our tribe. Our beliefs are insecure in a way no humans in any previous culture, have ever experienced, or even imagined – and so we all still feel very insecure.
And living to confirm and always reconfirm our beliefs, is only one side of the picture, on the other, we're scared of being 'disconfirmed', disbelieved. So we daydream about how we were right or will be right in the future.
Our modern political 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 is only a shadow of the mutual confirmation of a group, and liberal attitudes inevitably only create even more diversity of ideas.
SOCIAL CHAOS IS PREPROGRAMMEDSince 2,000 we find comfirmation increasingly online, with news and social groups which mirror our opinions and ideas with appropriate one-sided news.
In the free world many newspapers and politicians have to say what the people want to hear, because the confirmation of ideas and opinions, the sense of security in our beliefs, is more relevant and vital than the truth. And my point is, this was always so, even when we believed the Sun and Moon gods were chasing each other.
If it wasn't the online social groups and politicians – it would be something else ... and we can expect this situation because as a race we have lost the mutual support of our tribe; our social group is insecure. All we have left to identify with, is our individual ideas and opinions ... and they are exponentially insecure.
And though this is troubling, it is far better than one party political systems and their enforcement of one-sided truths.
WORK IDENTITY and SPECIALISATIONOver hundreds of thousands of years there has been a steady increase in job-specialisation. Quite recently since civilisation, humans started focusing on individual trades, and found identity in their work as soapmakers, ropemakers, brickmakers, bookbinders and glass blowers. But to keep growing exponentially we needed to keep repeating everything in smaller and smaller specialised parts. Always focusing on smaller bits.
Now with industrialisation and mass production, each worker provides separate specialised bits of each product. Even the local greengrocer now packs 1,000 frozen pea packets a day, and his wife sells them in the supermarket.
Our new 'mass individuality', has become increasingly defined by what we do in our 'free time'.
OUR BALANCE FOR WORK – ENJOYMENT – THE PASSIVE MODETo balance out all the focusing, doing and learning, humans have developed an amazingly creative collection of free time activities in the 'passive' mode. Listening to and playing music, storytellers and travelling circuses, television and sports, tasting wine, being massaged and meditation.
The passive mode or dozing is common among animals. There are some special instances, like the pig or hippopotamus wallowing in the mudbath, or the hen dustbathing in the sun. And these equate with the modern human passive mode in perfection of lying in the bathtub or sunbathing.
But usually, our passive mode is when we focus on someone else, on the stage or more recently on television, and they are focused on entertaining us.
We encourage self expression and creativity with arts, dance, sports and music. And all of this is good. Our cultural achievements in creativity and entertainment are magnificient. But all these are to do with focusing. From a panoramic perspective, the way we try and balance our 'doing-focusing-working time' with our 'free time' is ironical.
Animals don't balance their focusing activities with more focusing on being creative or having fun. I've nothing against fun. It's a wonderful human invention. But focusing on something which is fun or creative, is not a realistic balance for focusing on work.
IT'S ALL ABOUT FOCUSING, WE HAVE FORGOTTEN THE BALANCEAs a race we have generally become more and more creative with our abstract thinking. We have developed ideas on individual freedom of thought, with an emphasis on thinking for yourself, expressing yourself and believing in yourself. All good, but where is the balance?
We learn to connect words and symbols and to develop our focusing abilities and abstract thought at an increasingly young age. And at the same time we are learning to neglect our panoramic abilities, at an increasingly early age. Modern man has lost and we are ignoring, part of how we always sensed the world around us, lived and managed to survive over millions of years.
We seldom enjoy the spontaneous panoramic experience of a landscape, or simply 'messing about on the river'. And even if we do have the experience, we don't recognise how it happened. We just start thinking, focusing abstractly on the memory of that landscape or river.
Apart from maybe the angler, or the country yokel surrounded by hilltops and panaromas – both who don't know what they are doing, because it's so normal and seems like nothing special ... and it is nothing special, it's very natural – but apart for them, we just don't go panoramic anymore.
And the solutions to these cultural problems, is far clearer elsewhere on this site.