Friday Musings: Philosophical Brothers and Sisters
Co-Worker: “Man, another shooting. Disgusting.”
Me: “I know. It is tough to watch. I think it keeps happening because the alienation common in our modern environment. You don’t turn homicidal or suicidal without feeling intensely isolated. Really it is the evolution of capitalism that Adam Smith actually warned could come. He said that the problem with specialization and extreme self-interest was that while quality of life would go up, humans would increasingly lose connection and appreciation for much of the work they benefited from. Today, our communities have grown isolated and detached. Rather than working together to meet the needs of the tribe, as nomadic societies did, we all race to acquire more. But this leaves us lacking something far more important than material conveniences. We want to feel competent and necessary to a group. We want to feel like we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.”
Co-Worker: “Sure. And can you believe the Browns fired Hue Jackson?”
More often than not, I have found myself feeling different than the average bear. I enjoy and get along with almost everyone, but I see the world from an atypical lens. While most people are simply living in the world, I’m constantly analyzing it, turning over different theories, and trying to nail down complex, often paradoxical truths. I’m sure a lot of that is a consequence of my upbringing. My father was a professor of Doctoral Philosophy and Medical Ethics. Dinner conversation often drifted toward political or economic theory and reflections on lessons from history. While the average family just watched Star Wars, mine followed the event with a discussion on the banality of evil, Stanly Milgram’s Obedience experiments, Erwin Rommel, the Stranger by Albert Camus, and finally a discussion on how Coca-Cola and McDonalds often pay scientists to come to bunk conclusions.
This just isn’t normal. The majority of the people you see on a daily basis are very nice but less contemplative. Driven by their immediate assumptions unfiltered by investigation or historical contextualization, they are rarely concerned with ideas and ideals, opting instead for current events and gossip. The typical person is given a religion, literally or figuratively, and lives certain of its truth, despite never examining other faiths. They are good-natured and can be very fun, but, usually these relationships leave us wanting.
Still, as I explained to my colleague in the example above, connection is essential to humanity. I’d argue that while I sometimes feel distance from the average person, my introspective nature has actually created friendships and bonds that are uniquely deep and rewarding. If you are reading this, I imagine you’ve felt the same.
Who are we close with? Reflective people who aim for greater consciousness. The people I am close with may not appear to be close friends at all. I may go weeks or even months without checking in. Time, ambition, and the unpredictability of life has created physical distance. Still, when we see each other there is an immediate depth and love. It is like coming home. You are connecting with someone who has the capacity to know you and relate to your worldview. Someone who yearns for truth and meaning over safety and comfort. They know what it is like to love learning, to be driven by a constant thirst for discovery, to have millions of confusions, unshared deep reflections, and complex theories bustling through the brain. These are the people in whom you confide those innermost ambitions that, while difficult, would hurt too much not to pursue. Sometimes these friends hold very different views, but they are rooted in the same values- the same quest. This is a spiritual connection. We are brothers and sisters.
Don’t get me wrong, I love people, in general. I love the simple things like uncontrolled laughter, making strangers smile, and erupting in excitement while watching a good football game. Still, for me I know that I have to reserve my greatest loyalties to my philosophical brothers and sisters.
What I love about IHD is I am writing for similarly meditative confidants. Through this work I'm able to connect with people who understand what its like to have philosophical brothers and sisters of their own. While there is nothing wrong with relationships of convenience, do not feel compelled to appease them, particularly when it means betraying yourself. Instead, chase authenticity and truth. Who is making you better? Who drives you to think and live on a deeper level? Those people are where your allegiance lies. Thank you to all my philosophical brothers and sisters.