I have a wonderful story for you. It’s very likely to surprise you, and to leave you feeling better about yourself and your value. It’s like a human version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. That story exists to remind kids that differences can be valuable, and that everyone has value.
Despite the fact that many of us grow up with Disney-esque stories about how everyone matters, we all know that our egos have all taken any opportunity they can to use our thoughts against us.
We can be quite critical of ourselves. At times we’ve all thought of ourselves as ‘useless,’ or ‘worthless’ or ‘meaningless.’ In reality none of us really knows who we are. But we can rest assured that we all possess all sorts of value.
Consider this case. I have linked a story about an Australian man that exhibits an immune response to COVID that is up to 1000X times stronger than the average person. They can use antibodies in his blood to help other critically ill patients.
On top of this immediate help, we will likely learn a lot about the immune system and this virus thanks to his response. That knowledge could very well be a key aspect of what keeps future generations even safer than ours is –which is already the safest in history.
This man will certainly save many lives simply by being born. And yet we can be certain that, up until 50 years old, he was just like the rest of us. He likely assumed there was nothing special about him. And he would have questioned his own value just as we all do. And yet he was one in maybe a billion.
Most people misunderstand evolution in a way that undermines their own self confidence. Darwin didn’t actually coin the term ‘survival of the fittest.’ That was some who read his book. Darwin said, “descent through modification.”
Plants and animals aren’t striving to improve. They simply are things that love life itself. And Nature is a context created by all of the other life that surrounds our lives. We are all contexts, groups and individuals at the same time.
As an example, a type of flower creates a context for other insects and plant life, collectively they are a species, all while maintaining the uniqueness of each individual flower. So, if a type of flower is hit with a disease, the disease itself is a form of life also trying to survive. We’re just more partial to the flower. But in nature they simply both exist equally, without judgment. They are simply exploiting different niches.
If all of the flowers are quite susceptible to the disease, they will slowly weaken and die out, meaning they will be unable to propagate by spreading their own seeds. Their genomes will hit a dead end, and like 99.99% of all things that have ever lived, it will go extinct.
On the other hand, if even one of the flowers just happened to have a genome that conferred strong resistance to the disease, it would survive to spread its seeds until, a few generations later, eventually all of the flowers in the field were resistant to the disease.
Humans are very much like that too. Most of us are descendants of genome lines that survived the 1918 pandemic. Those that did not survive went on to have fewer children, reducing their population.
Note that neither the survivors of the 1918 pandemic, nor this Australian man, are stronger than others overall. In fact they could easily be much weaker. He could have had other debilitating issues yet still had his live-saving immune response. This is why ‘survival of the fittest’ can be a misleading term.
Strength does not apply equally to every quality a human can have. And many times in life the strength we need is not one we control, as is the case with our immune system. What that Australian man has is just the right strength for this particular context. And that is a much different idea than him being ‘fitter’ or more capable than others.
There is no way this man could have known he was like a good news time bomb, waiting to go off. Just by his very existence he offers good news during a terrible time. So the fact is, he always had enormous value, even when he thought he didn’t. And so do you, even when you don’t think so either.
You do not need to improve. You need to stop pulling yourself under through the weight of your words. So take today, and give yourself a break. Just be kind to yourself. Because like that Australian man, you are also filled with goodness.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.