This blog is about what I learned from the bestseller Homo Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Reading it left me highly inspired and the book has changed my world perspective for good. So therefore I highly recommend reading the book if you are open to learn about the world, human and yourself and perhaps it nudges your own imagined orders a bit.
An imagined order – and I quote Yuval Noah Harari – means in his words: “humans believe in a particular order not because it is objectively true, but because believing in it enables us to cooperate effectively and forge a better society”.
I read this and got inspired. Like big time. Yuval Noah Harari really provokes with his thoughts. If you know me a little bit you know I like that. And one of them is the imagined order. It fascinates me to explore the thought: ‘Everything I do is part of an imagined order and not necessarily an idea of my own’.
So what does this mean for my choices? And your choices in life? If you think the choices you make are yours read further and be open for a little mind game..
You are born in an imagined order
The day you are born you are part of a nation. With their own laws and rules. Did you choose your nationality? The nation’s culture prescribes how to behave. How to think and how to participate as a good person in that nation. Get a job and pay your taxes.
All those things are imagined. A nation is a concept. We don’t question it because we grew up with it. Culture is the equation of choices, behaviour and thoughts made during a period of time. This is not tangible stuff but all imagined realities.
Why? Because if you choose differently from the majority, your group, can reject your off-the-beaten-track-lifestyle and that can make you doubt. It can make you feel insecure or even stop you from doing what you want to do in the long run.
Do I make my own choices?
As a free individual I understand the idea of making my own choices in life. As a liberal I reject the thought that I somehow don’t make my own choices. “Do I make my own choices” is a philosophical question as well. I don’t imply to know the answer to this big question.
As a free individual I am able to make my own choices. To act on them and if it doesn’t work out the way I hoped for I make new choices. That is liberty, freedom, right? But are those choices my own created choice? Am I really capable of making choices disconnected from my environment? Disconnected from external pressure? Culture? Family and friends? And what about how my brain functions? Do I have a free will in choosing what my brains do?
Scientists conclusions nowadays claim there is no such thing as a free will. The only thing we know is that thoughts, desires, choices are created deterministically and or randomly. Follow this logic the free will can’t be free. Perhaps this isn’t easy to comprehend. Because this can and probably will change how we look at humans, their thoughts, emotions, desires and behaviour in general. If you want to know more about this topic I also recommend ‘Homo Deus – A brief history of tomorrow.’ Also written by Yuval Noah Harari.
Play it safe
What I do know is that the majority of the people play it safe. Go where the crowds already are. This applies to making choices as well. Choosing what the majority already has chosen.
If most people choose what the majority already has chosen how do they know if that is the best choice for them?
To answer this question free from any kind of nuances I would say: “It doesn’t matter shit for most people.” Why? Because everybody wants to be part of a group. Everybody wants to do good. To make good choices. To be a good person. People are longing for approval of their peers for their choices, behaviour, thoughts, desires and presence. And that is the reason most people within their group choose what the group chooses. I do it too.
This is not a bad thing because it enables us to collaborate with one another. But it can block your own wishes and needs too. Especially when they are different from the wishes and needs of that same majority.
How does knowing about imagined orders support me in making my own choices?
In the end everything humans do, all concepts we believe in, are part of imagined orders. Religion. Equality. Spirituality. The stock market. Money. Emancipation. Masculinity. All are concepts. Created in the mind of human beings. You believe them or you don’t. But is not true like a fact. Or like a tree, gravity or a lion like Harari likes to state it.
To be aware of imagined orders helps me to decide what I want to do in life. What I want to believe in life. Where I want to go in life.
For me personally it brings me peace to know that almost everything we believe and do in our society is imagined. How I should behave as a person, how to be a good citizen, to believe in the free market. Basic income, free choice, liberalism. Human rights? Animal rights? All these concepts made up by human are not tangible. They are illusions. Believe them or not. That is about it. Choosing to believe in them is the obvious way to make things a little bit less complicated for yourself. Which is a perfect strategy if you want acknowledgement from your peers.
What can I do?
If almost everything is imagined it means I can create and imagine my own concepts or ideas as well. Being aware of the mechanisms of ‘imagined orders’ makes me more independent to investigate what I want. Since everything is made up anyway. They are not absolute truths. Like lions, gravity and rivers are.
And if the majority rejects it, I know they don’t reject me personally but they reject the fact that I don’t confirm to their particular beliefs and truths. It perhaps makes others feel uncomfortable or make them question their own life choices. This happened with me too. If people ignored my vision and or believes it made me edgy. Because I made it personal. My thoughts told me ‘they reject you Jandaan’. Although that is how I coped with the indifference from people towards my point of perspective.
Understanding the concept of an imagined order. And how human behaviour is a product of this imagined reality will help you to be more independent towards all those majority concepts, thoughts, believes and orders.
What I learn is not to be insecure about my own personal choices in how to live my life. Even if this means my choices are different from the majority.
Perhaps it means especially if they are different from the majority.
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