I go out in the night, the landscape only lit up by the moon and the stars. I look at the stars, wondering about the universe, and I see that I am very small. I see no others around. It is a bit scary. Am I afraid? Do I feel lonely?
After a while, I go back. I exchange a few words, with my family, or a friend, or maybe some random stranger. I feel at ease again.
In this article I want to dig an inch deep into this theme, or maybe a foot deep. It could be harsh. It comes from years of pondering and questioning. The thoughts are not only my own, I have read quite a bit too. So here we go.
The nature is an unfriendly place. Let's quickly go through the history. It started with objects from space crashing into each other. The energy made everything a hot, glowing mass of molten rock. After a while, it cooled down. Water came with meteors. Atoms sometimes formed chains, that tended to copy themselves in the ocean soup. Energy from the sun added. Different chains competed on being most numerous. Defense mechanisms like protective membranes formed. One form won in the end, that which we can call the carbon based life form. Taking energy from the sun to help them multiply. Numerous species formed, each comprising individuals. Two forms of energy usage developed, those who consumed sunshine directly, and carbon dioxide, and those who consumed carbon and oxygen. Near the current state of the world, humans appeared.
That was a rather compact view of the history of the globe, not?
There exist no rights in nature.
Think about it. If a zebra meets a hungry lion, it is doomed. If a lion cub wanders out in the dark, it is doomed. When you, as a human meet a snowstorm, you are doomed. When you try to swim to an island that is too far away, you are doomed.
If you meet a human being intent on killing you... Wait a sec, this we have to think about.
Humans are different from any other beings. There is the brain. An overgrown brain, a snail might have said. A sea anemone would say nothing, it doesn't have a brain. Neither would a tree. But it is not only the brain.
There is more. The human is aware of himself. He can think about himself as someone. He can see himself as if from outside. And he sees other humans, and he sees every human, he sees humanity, and he sees that he is a part of humanity.
But there is even more. It is the knowledge of survival. The human has learned that non-aggression is more productive. Fighting other humans brings poverty. Collaborating peacefully brings abundance.
So when someone comes by, and sees that you have something he wants, he offers you something. He wants to trade. Or he just says hello and walks by. Or just walks by. You do the same. You offer him something in a trade. It creates value.
So a rule appeared in humanity. Do no harm. The inverse, you have the expectation of not being harmed. If you don't want to engage, you can turn your back to him, and he walks away. That's all. The expectation of being left alone, when that is your wish.
This rule is so ingrained into humans, that it is a defining trait. Thousands of years, long before it was expressed by the thinkers we appreciate today. It is as if it is defined from a force outside any individual human. This, what is this outside force, is under discussion every day, as it has been in all of documented history and long before.
You can walk among millions, some very different from yourself, all your life, without being harmed. People are told to be afraid of you, if you are white, but they don't believe it. They are told to mistrust you, if you are of the other gender, but they don't believe it. They are told to avoid you if you are from another place, but they don't believe it. They are told to fight you, else you will harm them first, but they don't believe it. Why, they ask, he looks all right to me. The force is so strong, it has to exist.
Now the important question, is it a right? The inverse of doing no harm. Do you have the right to be left alone? We all know that you not are always being left alone. You know other people are not left alone. It happens all the time, some people are stolen from, raped, killed, their shop looted, their house destroyed. Bombs.
Many do not follow the rule that is ingrained, sometimes because there is something wrong in their brain, sometimes they don't see the consequences for themselves. Desperate needs sometimes overwhelm the rule, and they break it. Sometimes they are fooled, the care they have inside them is diverted into helping evil, due to lies.
Is being left in peace a right, can it be a right, since aggression is so rampant? Yes it can, in the sense that you can defend it, even if you have to use force to the degree that you can harm the attacker. This is just as old as the commandment to do no harm. So you can say more precisely that you have the right to defend your wish to be left alone.
Other than that, you have no rights. This is harsh to say. It has many consequences. Were you left on a church entrance the day you were born, abandoned by your parents? You have to accept it. Did your parents ignore your needs? You have to accept it. Your friend left you. The love of your life left you. Your spouse left you. You have to accept all of that. Your father died? Your mother died, and left you in grief? You have to accept it.
Was it hard to grow up, and learn that you and only you are responsible? You have to accept that too. You have to be responsible for yourself, you can not demand that someone else takes care of you. There is no way around it. It can be scary.
But it is not as bad as it sounds. There is care out there. There is love. You can know, because it is in you, too. You can give it away. You create love and care. It is you. It comes from you. You can not command it from others, but you can expect it. Not from any specific individual, but from someone. Someone near you, in your society. You have the expectation of being left alone when you wish, engage when you want, the expectation of love and care when you do.
The only thing you have to do, is to follow the rule, engage with others peacefully. You will always have food, clothes and shelter. And love, and care. Follow the rule of no aggression, and defend your urge to be left alone when that is what you need.
You are responsible for this yourself. You can try to place it on the shoulders of others, but you can't. You are alone in the universe with the responsibility for your own life.
It has taken me many years to learn this. It has made my life better. More satisfying. Simpler. I can focus on the now, and prepare for the future.
I wish that people who read this, just says aha! and see the light, do the right thing and then becomes content with life! But I know that this is not the case. Everybody has to learn this by himself. In the beginning of grown up life, there is a lot of confusion, but the fog eventually clears.
Though sometimes I tend to want to be alone most of the time because I feel exhausted from engaging with people, I realized that socializing is still one of the human needs. We still need to communicate, engage, play and be with other human beings from time to time. In order for us to grow, in order for us to be more aware. I agree about the confusions in the beginning of grown up life and we need proper guidance so that we won't do mistakes that we might regret later on. Great article. Thank you.