Who is “WE”?

Following the book of the neuro-scientist Gerald Hüther Was wir sind und was wir sein könnten (What we are and what we could be) we should maybe start to think who We really are. The scientist wrote in 2011 rightly that in times of higher mobility and cultural interchange a different We-feeling exists than it prevailed in times of our great-grandparents. But a real signal of readiness for a new We isn’t perceptible. Why is this being the case?

morphWe are all born with the same neurological conditions and still we could not be more different. Depending in which family, culture and environment we grow up different. So our brains develops according to the complexity of our lifeworld differently. Even i we grew up in our neighbors’ house our brain would already look differently. Our brain adapts to the demands – in fact lifelong.

So we are born in a more or less complicated lifeworld. From the first day we observe, learn and start to interact with our environment. For a long time we don’t know who we are because we cannot dissociate ourselves from our significant others. Over time the temporal lobe in our brain learns where this “Me” literally begins and ends – at least physically. Psychologically we are and always will be dependent on our attachment figures.

Then we start to grasp the differences between us and other people as well as the common features of our community. Our opinions and persuasion are always characterized by our environment and their experiences. Even if we get more independent every day and one day we don’t need a grownup at our side anymore, we still rely on the opinions that influenced us. Although we believe we make our decisions alone in fact they always base on what our environment indicated us about ourselves.

In the course of our development we grow together with our environment because we share experiences which modify our brains. At this point we start to feel – and not only think – the We. Although this feeling doesn’t end at the village or country borders we are still skeptical towards everything new or different (even if it comes from our neighbors).

one-morph
The pictures of three girls morphed into one new face (third picture) for my project ONE. Klick on the picture to read more.

Our brains save certain thinking patterns. The more our environment confirms these patterns the more solid it gets in our brains – until the neuronal connection almost equals a highway. Different thinking patterns often seem impossible and really frighten us.

Furthermore fear is a well-known trigger for a strong We-feeling. Worse than starvation and distress which bind people together fear can be totally irrational and therefore makes us receptive to a sense of community. Especially in puberty youngsters are willing to do almost everything not to be barred from the group even if it’s dangerous or complete nonsense.

Common experiences empower us and our We-feeling enormously but also tempt us to bawl or oppress others and make us blind for everything new. It spoils the possibility to learn something different and to break the mold (neurologically). Worry and the resulting willingness to act are often used from authorities to set borders between humans without attaining any improvement.

Many children and a few adults head off to break up these thinking patterns and boundaries to recognize that we all have the same needs, hopes and fears – all over the world.

It is difficult to think off the beaten paths and to open a new way of thinking because to achieve this a destabilization process in our brain is necessary which of course makes us upset and vulnerable. In our brain it is like anywhere in the world: we have to let go the old habits to experience something new. Only if we consider the old We to which we have become it is possible to create a new (maybe cross-cultural) We.

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