As I was furiously rubbing my fingers on the glass screen of my magic window, I noticed that almost every alternate post on a major social media platform was from someone who was “triggerd”.
There was a beautiful young woman triggered by collective male behavior, a fiery politician provoked by charges of corruption, a journalist provoking a guest on a talk show, and there are always rants about race, language and religion. Every other meme or video is a directed insult aimed at provoking someone else !
I have fallen into this pit multiple times, angered by people thinking in ways I did not agree with, climbing out with a plethora of feelings ranging from pride to poverty. But why ?
So why do people get triggered ? And why do people provoke ?
Harari in his awesome book “sapiens” mentions the source of human prowess. “The ability to communicate myths”. According to him all that exists outside biological or genetic reality are mythical. It is amazingly fascinating when we realize that dogs can be only dogs and pigs can be only pigs, i.e how their genetics define them. Humans on the other hand can be dogs, pigs, buffaloes, dolphins or any other creature they want to be.
Humans aren’t defined as much by our genetic material as by our cultural beliefs. While one group of humans love beef, another does not. What is even worse is that one group believes consuming beef is punishable by death.
There are 7 billion people who pray to a million different gods, and follow a million different lifestyles and eat a million different foods, each convinced of their superiority in some little way. But the chicken only cluck, the cows only moo and the dolphins only eat fish !
I am starting to believe Harari when he says religion, race, borders, money, law , jobs and a lot of essential human concepts are nothing but mythical or imagined. Humans thrive in this mythical world. They are proud of everything except the very basis of what they are. Religion, race, language, nationality and even caste define identity much more that one’s “sapien” features.
It is thus obvious to see why people are triggered so easily. We are an insecure lot, constantly struggling against our hunter/gatherer genetics. We hold on to identity (religion,political, caste, linguistic identity, occupation, education and a million more) without reason and when those beliefs are questioned, we automatically have to defend our nonsensical beliefs out of fear that our whole mythical identity would be destroyed.
Mythical identity ?
To put things into perspective, the earth is 13.5 billion years old i.e 13,500,000,000 years, homo sapiens have roamed earth for around 1,50,000 to 200,000 years. That is 0.0011% , but during this time we have killed off species of animals that have been around for millions of years. The earlier humans “homo erectus” survived on earth for around 2 million years, until we arrived.
We have been indulging in agriculture for around 10,000 years that is 0.00007% of earth’s lifetime, in that time we have learnt to divide the surface of the earth and take ownership of land. The earliest languages were written just around 4000 years ago, religions were born much later, countries and borders have taken solid form only over the past few hundred years.
Nations rise and fall, governments come and go, laws are made and changed. But every man sticks to his imagined identity, I am a proud citizen of ___ or a devout _____ and my language has been around for ____ years. When one understands that all cultural identity is imagined, all resentment will die. You will not need money to transact and you wouldn’t need passports to travel. You will not need a nation to call home, and you will not need a language to call your mother tongue. You will be closer to being human than you ever were ! Thus when your identity is threatened, look deeper rather than spew out abuses. The deeper you go, the closer you are to identifying that cultural identity does not make any sense.
This ideal future may look impossible now, but over a thousand years ?
Who would change it ?
When would man just be man ?
When will we fulfill our cognitive potential ?
When will everyone be happy ?
Not in my lifetime !