Masses of humanity and the individual’s place.

There are a lot of people in this world. Good, bad, evil and every shade in between, it doesn’t matter. The fact remains that if there were even just a million people on this earth, it would be too many for me to comprehend, to truly be able to conceive of each of them being an individual with thoughts, feelings, dreams and miseries, let alone to make myself truly realise that each of these people have the same inherent value. It’s literally impossible, as far as I know: science tells us that nature does not intend for the individual to care about too many thousands of people. 

While it is entirely likely that I trust too much, trust them I do, and this article on the ‘Monkeysphere’ discusses, essentially what I’m trying to say: humans are not biologically wired to care about more than about 150 people. It makes sense – humans originally lived in smaller societies where they had to get along with the people in their own tribe and be prepared to fight against the others, despite the fact that the other tribe was most likely composed of people just like themselves, hungry and not really wanting to hurt others. It’s one of those things that is constantly oversimplified in movies, where the bad guys are just outright evil and utterly wrong, and the protagonist firmly entrenched in morals and goodness.

What’s hardest to consider is that everyone is entitled to an opinion, and that everyone has value. To think that every person you pass in the street – everyone at work or school or uni, everyone you find a little irritating, has a mind just as turbulent and just as worried and mad and unique and happy as yours – it makes you feel downright average. To me it feels a little like the basics of economy: the more plentiful a commodity is, the less value it has. So my mind, my brilliant precious pearl of a mind, is no longer valuable because such pearls are found everywhere. If there are 7 billion in the world, pearls are worthless as any seashells washed up on the beach.

Remembering that people are all unique serves only to upset, rather than comfort me. 

And yet.

I keep trying – determined to prove to people that for some reason, somehow, my worth is more than others: my mind is a rare black pearl among the sea of glowing white orbs. It’s foolish and probably futile, because what I should really be doing is making myself believe that my inherent value does not depend on other people’s opinions of me, or some such similar nonsense. I wish I didn’t, I wish I could just reconcile myself with the fact that all people struggle, and have issues, and overcome some and succumb to others. But it’s hard, it really is. It’s like when you cautiously admit that you would like to write a book, only to find that 63 other people leap up and say “Oh yes! Me too, I’ve always wanted to write one and I’ve got this idea…”

I figure the best way to combat it, for the moment, is to go out and write the book and be able to come back and say “Look, there were 64 of us saying we wanted to do it, but I actually went and did it.” And the book will be, of course, my proof. 

I am not entirely sure yet whether this is OK, whether it will hurt me more than it helps, because I have to admit that I don’t care about the masses. I don’t, I really don’t. I care about being nice, about not hurting others, but I continue to see others as a homogeneous mass of mildly frustrating humanity, unless they manage to please me and become my friend. I don’t want to insult people needlessly and wreak havoc, but I also don’t want to live my life trying to please a million contradictory requests. It’s simply too hard, and I do not need nor want that kind of responsibility. 

If you show me an individual, I’ll accept them. I’ll make allowances and excuses. But please don’t expect me to treat every single person with that same deference because it will, I’m sure, eventually ruin me. Yes, I will endeavour to respect people. That’s simple and easily done, without any cost to myself. But apart from that? Let me make my own choices without considering the masses. After all, to most people I am simply another face in the crowd, and the opinions that really matter to me are those of the people I choose to consider individually. 


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