This I believe

“Education is a self organising system, where learning is an emergent phenomenon.”

Sugata Mitra (in a TED Talk)

“Humanity is a self organising system, where love is an emergent phenomenon.”

Me (bastardising a very insightful quote)

I used to believe that I was outside the world that a special set of rules applied to me about how I had to be perfect, save the world (which I was not part of) and make my friends happy. This feeling of being outside and not belonging has been a pretty constant companion for many many years, since childhood and that fateful encounter with the abusive kindergartenteacher. At times it manifested as a feeling of actually living in a bubble with a physical barrier between me and the world of everyone else. Sometimes it gave me comfort when the world of everyone else was particularly cruel. They couldn’t hurt me because I wasn’t part of their world.

She took that away from me. Worse, she made me take it away from me. She asked me why I was not part of the world and why it was my job to save the world. She questioned the order of things. She questioned why I of all people had to earn love and friendship when everyone else just got to have friendship and love.

Then I walked on the camino and people just loved me. I was part of their world. And one day as I lay on a patch of grass in a village square and looked up at two trees I felt the wall, the bubble that separated me from the world fall away.

I was connected to everyone. I could feel their humanity and their love. I could feel where they closed themselves off and where they tried to fill that hole left by humanity unacknowledged with stuff, physical stuff or entertainment stuff. I could see how their patterns and monsters carefully constructed complex paths around these closed off parts.

And I thought back on this. Seeing someone who lives too much inside her head and her self, like I do. I’m a huge fan of Karma Yoga, where selfless service is the way to enlightenment. Exactly for this reason. I get out of my head and instead of focusing on doing something for myself as in “regular” yoga I do something for others. And I feel a part of the world as a result. I don’t have to save it, but I am shaping it.

It seems clear when one looks at the way hategroups work that dehumanization is an essential part of fostering hate. See headless fatty, comparing women to animals etc.

When we accept someones humanity we create community, companionship, empathy and importantly love. Love emerges when we accept a common humanity.

This is tough when something like Sandyhooks happens. We don’t want the killer to belong to us, we don’t want to empathize, or love him. So we other him. We do what he did. I firmly believe that noone who recognizes anothers humanity can act in a way that is intentionally harmful to that person.

There’s another side to this too. When you see yourself outside humanity it is hard to love yourself, or to accept anothers love. There is doubt and worthiness questions.

It turns out that she was right. I needed to see myself as the part of the world that I am. I needed to accept my humanity with all that entails. The part she should have told me was that when that happens, I would realize that I deserve all the love, just because I exist, that I would find love and community. That love is an emergent phenomenon of being in the world.

I am an atheist and I’ve had a tough time explaining to people what particular flavour my spirituality is, because so often spirituality is connected to a belief in a higher power.

But this is exactly it. I believe in humanity. More I have faith in humanity. I believe that when we acknowledge the neurochemical spark of humanity in each other that we can’t help but feel love and siblinghood. Out of that feeling we act in supportive and constructive ways. And I have this inkling that our neurochemical sparks recognize each other no matter whether we are conscious of it or not. That our world is spanned by a vast network of neurochemical spark recognition and I am a part of it. So I strive to slowly sweep away all the illusions of separation and difference that cloud my perception of this spark.

3 responses to “This I believe”

  1. Nicky says:

    What you’re describing sounds remarkably like Buddhism. I really enjoyed “The Buddha in Your Mirror,” which describes a very secular form of Buddhism. It’s entirely possible to be Buddhist, and not believe in a higher power, just the interconnectedness of humanity. Full disclosure: I’m Christian, and I firmly believe Jesus had some experience with Buddhism!

    • Miss P. says:

      Thank you for the book recommendation, sounds good. I’ve always found the idea of rebirth strange and thus haven’t looked more closely into Buddhism.

      Until this year I never knew how much exchange between cultures was happening BC. I always thought each one was more or less isolated, even though it doesn’t really make sense.

  2. Love this: “And I feel a part of the world as a result. I don’t have to save it, but I am shaping it.” YES.

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