I’ve written about this issue before. Today, thanks to mass confusion about egos and reality, a lot of people hate themselves and others in very roundabout but damaging ways. And in doing so, it’s important to remember that when we hate, we feel the hate we create, not the thing or person being hated.
Quite commonly, people will choose to use their thinking and language to either generally hate their government, or they’ll generally hate corporations. Yet, to hate either is to be confused about reality. Our egos can get so caught up in language, that it can blind us to the truth beneath it.
There are some basic functions in this world that are inevitable. As soon as we started to group together to cooperate for survival, we needed some fundamental things to be in place. We need food, shelter, and safety from predators, diseases, and resource competition. And then, maybe later, some sources of pleasure, or leisure.
To accomplish that, we divide ourselves into groups that focus on different tasks, performed on behalf of everyone. Even hunter-gatherer’s did this. Today, the group tasked with gathering, or making, all of things that rest of us need to function, would be people in business—or corporations. They can be workers for a communications company or a farmer in a field, but we all consume what they create.
They invent the new tools, and ways of hunting and gathering, that help us keep pace with a growing population. We absolutely need these things done in society, and they take huge pooled resources. Someone had to pay the hundreds of millions dollars it took to develop the drugs we take, or to figure out how to grow twice as much food on the same amount of land.
The way it works is that, the people who work for other companies, or the government, take their retirement and/or investment money, and they put it into these companies to help them develop things we’re generally asking for—even if those things sometimes aren’t good for us or the planet. (We solve that issue separately, at a shareholder meeting.)
The growth in the person’s retirement fund is generated by the growth of the company they invest in. But ironically, this can mean that, in many cases, the person hating a corporation will unknowingly own part of it, as part of their retirement. That’s a form of self-hate based on misunderstanding. If we really don’t approve of what a company is doing, then the place to exercise that belief is a shareholders meeting. There is no need to waste our life thinking up insults for the good people doing their jobs at that company.
Of course, another group will organize all of the in-between stuff that’s involved with getting the supplies to the citizens, and for doing the other things we do—like keep ourselves safe from attacks of all sorts (the military or police). They’re the workers that hire the corporations that build our roads, or other infrastructure that we and the other companies then use. They also educate our kids in schools and universities; or they set up, or monitor, the financial or infrastructure systems that the companies then use to move things, or to raise the money to change the world.
Those people are generally called ‘government,’ whether they are a meat inspector, an air traffic controller, a park ranger, a scientist doing safety tests, or a contract specialist that monitors the private companies doing the labour for the government. They represent all of us, as they work to ensure that each of us is living up to the standards we agree on as groups, through our various laws and regulations. But whatever we call the people who do these jobs, they are necessary people that allow us all to function.
Essentially all of us know a large portion of government workers. And just like the many people we know who work for corporations, virtually all are very respectable people, doing good jobs, just like the rest of us normally do. And is that really such a surprise?
Despite us clearly needing these roles filled, and despite the fact that we all know our friends are good people, for some reason we doubt that other people have good friends. So it has become common for people to toss out statements about this or that label being ‘bad,’ or ‘useless,’ when in reality the remarks are often grossly broad, and totally indefensible. No group of individuals is all one way. The only answer is trust. We want it. We should give it too.
Obviously, someone needs to organize traffic, or the internet. Yet, it can be hard to privatize things like drug testing, or meat inspection, because companies have a stake in the results, and we can’t really blame them for doing what they were built to do, which is make retirement money. But even if we gave those government roles strictly to companies, we would still have strangers doing the exact same things for us—so how does what we call them possibly make any difference to how decent, trustworthy, or hard working they are?
People are people. We are all generally decent and hard-working, and our mistakes are honest. But so are everyone else’s. We cannot pretend that just because someone works at, or even runs, a company, or for a government, that just that title alone does something to their brains or souls. The fact that people will move from companies to government and vice versa proves that can’t be true.
Unless we’re a performer, our work does not require us to adopt a self-definition. We can embody a role without thinking comparatively about that role, or other’s roles. Only egos deal in definitions, and those are only used to judge. But egos don’t actually accomplish anything. Yet, by entertaining them in our consciousness, people can create unnecessary and counter-productive friction in society, when in reality we would have no quarrel with what a person actually does if we could see it for ourselves.
We should be wary of creating enemies with our minds. If we have any, that’s how we got them, because that is the only way to create them. People are just people, doing their own versions of the same things we do. Our thought-based judgments about them only affect the inside of our heads. But they have no affect on the person we’re judging, nor does our certainty make our beliefs true.
Any overarching idea about the motives of someone in any station in society is generally all narrative fiction. No baby was born being against any other baby. And that does not have to change just because a good person gets a job, and must decide between a corporation or the government (or this religion and that, or this political party or that).
Notions that we cannot trust one another are heavily over-blown. The world only functions because most people do as they should, without being asked. So living as though our ego-based judgments are true is simply inaccurate, and it’s corrosive to society. What good is the modern world if every invention or activity by half of society is viewed as suspicious or wrong? That’s a recipe for mass anxiety.
Spend today watching your thoughts for broad labels. Catch yourself judging others. Feel that tug of disapproval. And then interrogate it. Ask yourself if it’s truly valid. Because far too often, people actually have no real issue with what’s being done—we are just expressing whatever judgments our parents taught us to make. And we can do better.
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.