Raised as One

I’ve read that Asian cultures generally practice collectivism. Focusing on the betterment of the whole rather than the goals and desires of the individual. This can be seen reflected even in anime. It’s easy to notice the difference between these shows and American programs. The characters are much more concerned with their family, friends, community, and humanity as a whole than themselves.

In the United States, this is almost diametrically opposed to the way we live. Americans seem to always put themselves first, maybe extending this to close family occasionally. We practice individualism and pride ourselves on our country’s focus towards individual freedoms. And while this does allow more personal independence, it feels rather isolating.

As a species, we evolved to live and work together, to support one another in order to survive. We were never meant to be on our own. I think this is one reason feeling isolated leads to so many mental health problems. Our deepest instincts are crying out that we are not safe, that something is wrong, that it is bad to be alone, dangerous even.

All of this got me thinking back to how ultimately we are all one. Irrevocably connected, pieces of a whole. Seeing what a difference different cultural beliefs can make in a society, I began to wonder. What if we took collectivism even farther? What if humans taught their children not only the value of looking out for their friends and neighbors, but that those very people were in fact a part of them, an extension of themselves? Imagine how different the world might be.

This is more of an interesting thought experiment than something I believe could or would actually be put into practice. However, I would love to see what kind of world that would create. If we were all raised from the very beginning to believe that we were not merely this physical body we inhabit, but actually just a branch of that massive tree of life, of existence. How different would society have developed? Would we still have wars? Would we have destroyed this planet that we are an extension of?

I don’t pretend to know what effect this type of culture would have on humanity. But it is certainly interesting to think about. I know I wish I had been raised that way. So that I could fully rest in the belief that I am merely a cresting wave in the ocean of existence. Maybe then I wouldn’t retain this fear of returning to the ocean.