Pic of the day: It is easy to think we know what is going on, while actually people have very different motives than what we imagine. (As in this actual, unedited screenshot from The Sims ...)
Equal but different
For generations we have sought toward equality between the races, between the sexes, and lately even between the ages. We assume that all people are created equal. Perhaps the idea is that if we are not all the same, then some would be worth less, and therefore worthless. But just because we have should have equal human rights, this does not mean we are identical.
Actually it is pretty close. The genetic variance in the human race is less than inside one tribe of chimpanzees. It is clear that we all descend from a very small number of people a short time ago, though most scientists think 100-200 000 in Africa rather than 4000 on Ararat. Still, we are biologically almost identical, more so than brothers and sisters among many wild mammals.
It is perhaps natural then that in humans this illusion has taken hold: That others are like us. That they think like us and act like us. And when they do something different from us, it must be because they have some reason we can understand, the same reason that we would have had for doing the same thing.
Perhaps identical twins can indeed understand each other that way, but for the rest of us it sure doesn't work. The human brain is too complex, and the mental structures in there are too obscure to fully understand. It may work for a while, or for some parts of life. But sooner or later, people do something we just can't understand.
In my case, it happened sooner instead of later.
I had learned to read when I was just a five-year old boy back on the farm. When I was six, I would go to school. I looked forward to this: There was supposed to be lots and lots of books, and teachers who knew even more than parents. Boy, what a rude awakening. I soon discovered that the other boys were not like me or my family. They were like our goats. The goats were milling around, occupied with fighting for position, constantly bullying those weaker than them while trying to avoid those stronger than them. But unlike goats, these kids were not cuddly and nice to humans. They seemed to believe that I was a fellow goat, and a small and weak one that should be bullied.
The relationship between me and my fellow humans has been mostly cool ever since. They have their interests, I have mine. I consider them inferior, and they think the same of me. In truth, we are both insignificant. Even from some of the outer planets, Earth is not visible without a telescope. And it does look much the same whether you and I are on it or not. Our species just came, and it is likely to leave soon too, if it follows its current course. I guess we shall have to cooperate while we are here, even if we are different.
And of course, the "others" are not just different from me, but from each other as well. Already in their childhood boys act different from girls, even though the physical differences are barely visible yet. And then there are children with special talents or interests ... some live in a world filled with music, while others are tone deaf. While almost all boys are obsessed with sports, there are always a few who are not. I think. (I can't say I have met any, but it's a good bet they exist. I read about one in a novel once.) A few are raised in strictly religious homes, while others have parents who laugh out load if the topic of religion comes up.
The girls are not much better off, despite less physical violence. If you don't look good, you'll find out soon enough. If you are not popular, you are nothing. If a girl is too thick or too thin, if she gets boobs a year too early or too late, all heck is loose. There is no alms at the doors in the girl's locker room either (though they usually don't stuff each other in lockers, I have been told).
Those who reach adulthood without emotional scars: Welcome to the workplace. Here you will find people with a diverse array of phobias and obsessions. As we grow up, we also specialize more and our differences increase. One is a lecher, another is scared of the opposite sex, and a third is gay (but doesn't tell anyone). One is paralyzed with indecision, another jumps into action even without knowing anything about the situation. Some seek attention while others are shy and try to hide. And some are shy until they get a drink or two, then they dance on the table. Humans come in a remarkable variety of personalities.
Despite all the evidence, some still believe that others are like them. Yes, we are. We have the same basic instincts. We need food and sleep, though the times and places we satisfy those needs may vary. Most people also want sexual intercourse, as can be expected since without such behavior none of us would have been born in the first place. Again, there is no guarantee of compatibility. There are some really weird things going on out there, although most people can fall back on a few basic moves if necessary. I'm not going to go into details in an entry such as this, but let's face it: It is not obvious that others think and feel the way you do. Even about the things you don't normally talk about.
So in conclusion: Even though we have a lot in common, we are all different too. This means we should not be hasty to judge others, for they may have very different reasons for the things they do. We should rather ask what they mean by doing this or that, and then listen with an open mind. For each of us is only a thread in the great tapestry; and even if you are a bright and shiny thread, there may be a greater beauty that can only be seen when the threads come together. Together, but different.
Visit the Diary Farm for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.