No One Above Me, No One Below Me
“Except You—Yeah, You’re definitely below me.”
You and I are are sharing a physical experience on a very physical dimension. Although we’ve been told that every physical component of this reality—from furniture to bodies to walls—is 99% empty space, if you punch someone in the face, with any luck, you’re going to leave a mark. Our hands don’t simply go through walls and faces, and our food doesn’t magically convert into ether once we’ve consumed it. We are used to dealing with the mass, the weight, of this physical reality. We play by the rules of this world: we put in physical work for physical pay, we execute physical actions for physical results, and we think in terms that relate back to what we can feel, see, smell, taste, and hear with our five, very physical senses. The drawback of this approach to life is that we tend to judge things based exclusively on their mass. We observe their physical manifestation, and then decide who is worth more based on several definitive factors:
- their gender (are they a threat to me/opportunity for me?)
- their race (are they excessively different than me?)
- their age (do they have more or less experience than me?)
- their looks (are they more attractive than me?)
- their weight (are they healthier/fitter than me?)
- their occupation (are they more productive/meaningful to society than me?)
- their socioeconomic status (are they richer/more successful than me?)
- their education (are they more intelligent than me?)
- their family (are they more fruitful than me?)
- their religion (do they agree with my opinions about what is real and true?)
- their politics (see above)
Once we have assessed (judged) someone about whether they rank above, equal, or below us in any of these categories, we then formulate our interaction strategy. This is different for everyone—for example, some individuals are desperately seeking the approval of the rich, hoping that somehow they’ll be inducted into their ranks. These people are likely to seek out, support, and side with the wealthy. Other individuals resent the rich, considering them the scum of the earth, and treat them accordingly. This is one small example, but it can be applied to just about every factor above: people are okay with some differences if associating with that difference will benefit them, and they are resistant to other differences if they believe it will lower their current position. This hierarchical mindset, with deep roots in theology, capitalism, and segregation, presents success like a ladder, where certain levels (and consequently, groups of human beings) simply must be stepped on or over to reach the top, or at the very least, maintain current standing.
Hierarchical thinking is anchored on a few basic principles, but the main overarching theme is difference. Human beings at their most primitive, egoic level—which we are still operating on today—know themselves to be separate from everyone and everything else, by virtue of their mass. Put simply, the physical distance between us has proven sufficient to convince us that we are not connected. Because of this, every human being becomes an island unto themselves. Our egoic nature then crafts every thought in relation to themself as separate from others, leaving those thoughts tainted with gradients of judgement and comparison. This type of mental monologue directly correlates with the social media boom, which facilitates judgement and capitalizes on comparison and has almost single-handedly led to the disappearance of common ground in religion, politics, and even reality.
By continuing to overemphasize self-concept in the virtual world, modern social binaries have been pushed to extremes in the physical world. Nuance and grey areas of interconnection have evaporated in the context of political and social conversations; in their place has emerged an ever-growing echo-chamber of confirmation bias and carefully crafted belief-reinforcing advertisements and propaganda. The physical world is now designed to keep human beings trapped exactly where they are, burning old, overused electrical impulses into set neural pathways, atrophying the brain, and suppressing humankind’s spiritual and infinite nature.
How can we expect to have a conversation now?
As science has shown us, we are not actually islands unto ourselves. What “we” are, what our bodies are, are dancing atoms, occupying space merely by virtue of speed, light, and quantum fields. The same ingredients that make us dense and “real” make up everything else, and the variation in appearance that we perceive physically is merely the result of differences in speed and frequency—light and sound.
Big PicturE: We’re INVALIDATING Each Other on the basis of light and sound
If we, as a species, ever want to have an actual conversation again, a few key realizations need to light up on our dashboard. In fact, these realizations may be mission critical if we ever hope to move beyond survival into THRIVAL—individually and collectively, as one can’t occur without the other.