You often hear people say how humans are the most egoistic of creatures. A fairly truthful statement I think. For all our ingenuity more often than not we still retreat to the familiar instinctively. Just look at your home. It has eyes (windows), a mouth (the door) and a backside that few pay any attention to – therefore its appearance is typically neglected. When you enter into it, you are in essence re-entering the womb. A place that is warm, safe (for the most part anyway) and nourishing (it’s where your food source is).
There is no logical, imperative reason why our homes should mirror ourselves. After all there isn’t a reason in the world why you couldn’t live outside. In most places it doesn’t rain all that often. Even if it does, you need only pull some sort of cover over your head like an extra head of hair. Yet we prefer to retreat into an almost identical, albeit larger scale model of ourselves.
Further evidence of our intrinsic awareness of “self” that appears in our everyday lives is how we measure things. Even with all the measurements we have how often do you find yourself saying, “he’s about this tall” (indicating with your hand the approximate location of the top of his head should he be leaning against you) rather than ” he’s xxx meters tall.” When cooking you say, “a pinch of salt” rather than “a gram”. When indicating the width of something it is common to outstretch ones arms as an approximation rather than indicate an exact numerical dimension. The list goes on and on.
It is rare in our everyday lives that we look beyond ourselves or others of our same species for reference points as to how our own lives should unfold. There are those that would argue that nature inspires us. Certainly it makes us feel good, but does it make us do good? Rarely I think. We never attempt to emulate nature anywhere near as closely or as often as we do ourselves or others close by.
Along similar lines, I saw a show on the history of science a while ago and it was said that when the microscope was discovered at first people were fascinated by this whole new micro world which they had never seen before. Then gradually and oddly enough they started to resent it. It was something beyond their perception, beyond their manipulation and therefore alien. And we all know from the circles of history how well we respond to new kids in the neighborhood no matter how good natured we think we are. Therefore aside from scientists the microscope itself never caught on as a fashionable hobby amongst the uninitiated.
We’re the least tolerant species on the planet when it comes to anything that is not defined as “us”. With little thought we destroy environments big and small. Everything from deforestation to stepping on a roach on purpose. In some cases we destroy one another, it’s true, but that is often accompanied by remorse on some level, at least among the sane. That’s the difference. It’s easier to dismiss what would be deemed as “not one of us” in a mirror.
Maybe the key to world peace is leaving our womb-like homes to live amongst the trees, caring for creatures big and small as we would ourselves and creating and relating to our environments by appreciating and applying non-human perspective rather than constant emulation of self as the rule of thumb. It’s a big step though, and given our evolution to date probably an impossibility until the species that will replace us comes into being.