From Ego to Empire, All Our Problems Stem From the Impulse To Control
The human organism arrives in this world squishy, defenseless and easily startled, which it turns out is really starting things off on the wrong foot.
Because of the size of our newly-evolved brains relative to the birth canal, humans have to give birth to what are essentially fetuses, far more helpless for a much longer time than the offspring of our animal cousins. While we are slowly completing our post-natal gestation and learning to move and walk as most mammals can do right out of the womb, we are in a very frightening stage of helplessness which inevitably leaves us scarred with psychological trauma.
Our formative impressions of the world are that it’s an unpredictable land of giants who make unexpected loud noises and sudden movements, where we have to scream our heads off to get what we need and where we’re incapable of articulating any desires we might have that are more complex than hunger or changing.
We’re just flung into this scary environment that we do not understand and cannot control. So it’s not surprising that we start forming strategies to exert some degree of control in order to feel safe and secure.
As our little heads get fuller and we begin to use language, we discover that one way we can exert control over this scary world of giants is with a conceptual framework known as “me”.
When we were newborns we did not experience a “me”, we just experienced raw sensory input and simple being. As our capacity for language and thought develops we learn that it’s useful to move thoughts around an imaginary conceptual construct called “me” in order to exert control over our environment using thoughts and words like “Mine!”, “I want that,” “Stay with me mommy,” “Don’t do that to me,” etc.
In reality there is no hard, solid thing that could be called a “me”, either scientifically or experientially. Scientifically the human organism is a loosely collaborative cellular process with no defining boundaries and no real separation from the ecosystem which forms and sustains it, and experientially there’s just thoughts, feelings and sense impressions with no hard “me” at the center if you really look closely. But because it’s useful for exerting control, the mental story of “me” gets energetically imbued with the power of belief in the organism.
This is what various spiritual traditions are pointing to when they employ the English word “ego”. Not to any hard, solid thing, but to a behavioral tendency to energetically contract around an imaginary “me” construct. It’s where nearly all of our suffering comes from, and it’s why the world is messed up in the way it is.
This impulse to control begins with egoic contraction, and depending on how forceful that contraction is it can lead to the impulse to control loved ones, communities, the environment, and every human being on this planet.
Someone whose egoic impulse to control spills over onto others can become abusive: beating their children, manipulating their family members, terrorizing their significant others, doing whatever it takes to give themselves the feeling of security they get when the people around them are brought under control. There’s no respect for the self-sovereignty of those people, because granting them self-sovereignty would be placing them out of your control.
Article from LewRockwell