Our shared humanity
I learned something in the last weeks.
Reading the book The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World it made click.
A new mental model called the “ethnosphere” coined by the mind of anthropologist Wade Davis rocked and expanded my world. Let me share with you what I learned.
I am slowly waking up to the fact that the way I perceive the world is just one way to look at the world.It hits me often, that there are other operation systems better suited to our times, than the mindset I grew up.
Let me explain how my thinking has evolved here.
My man Wade Davis brings it home:
“One of the intense pleasures of travel is the opportunity to live amongst those who have not forgotten the old ways, but still feel their past in the winds, touch it in stones polished by rain, taste it in the bitter leaves of plants.“
This world isn’t a dull commercial. Far from it. It’s a wicked tapestry of different cultures and operation systems. This idea is at the core of the science of understanding humanity (anthropology): It is the idea,
“that the world into which you were born does not exist in an absolute sense but is just one model of reality—the consequence of one particular set of intellectual and adaptive choices that your own ancestors made, however successfully, many generations ago”.
In short: multiple intellectual, spiritual and social models of reality coexist. Their plurality makes the fabric of human legacy.
Deal with it, your operation system is just one of many, boy. And it’s not even as good as you thought it is.
Introducing the mental model of the ethnosphere. Our man Wade says - just like the world’s biosphere makes the biological web-of-life we also have a shared ethnosphere.
What is the ethnosphere? Imagine it as “the sum total of all the thoughts, dreams, ideals, myths, intuitions, and inspirations brought into being by the imagination since the dawn of consciousness.”
Think of it this way - the ethnosphere is the book in which the story of humanity, aka the story of creativity, of exploration and of making sense in its multiplicity is written.
Our ethnosphere can also be seen as the book highlighting the many differences in our making sense of this human experience: including our taboos, what we hold sacred, the hard edges of our identity, the corpses in our collective cellar.
Each culture creates their own operation system. And that’s the beauty.
Becoming aware that my models of thinking are just that, models of operations written in the larger book of our shared ethnosphere - blows my mind: Every. Fucking. Time.
Having understood this I’m a changed man now; a less self-centred humble being (just kidding).
Broadening my frame of reference matters though: Understanding and appreciating the worlds „ethnosphere“ is a great way, if not one of the best ways, to spend your time.
Mastering, meaning understanding and owning, cultural diversity is underrated. Not a lot of people can get to birds eye perspective, young Padavan. Wade, my man, spits the truth when he says:
„Culture is not trivial. It is not a decoration or artifice, the songs we sing or even the prayers we chant.
It is a blanket of comfort that gives meaning to lives.
It is a body of knowledge that allows the individual to make sense out of the infinite sensations of consciousness, to find meaning and order in a universe that ultimately has neither.“
By employing the mental model of our shared “ethnosphere” I can see myself in a larger story: A story that goes beyond the narrative of nation states I grew up with. It’s the story of this shared humanity.
So, here is the new story worth telling: We are a part of the ethnosphere, our diverse shared human legacy. And this narrative feels more expansive and respectful than the one I was force-fed growing up.
Understanding where others are different is part of cherishing this human richness. This boils down to this simple formula:
Holding many separate contradictory systems in your head = you are a rich mind.
Being trapped in your little world equals = poor soul.
This quest to look beyond and grasp the larger ethnosphere brings respect and understanding. And that’s a totally different starting point to fix the many challenges ahead.
Wishing you a mindful week,