In Europe, there’s a kind of oval black and white sticker people put on their cars to indicate their country of origin: CH for Switzerland (fooled you, ConfÅ“deratio Helvetica), NL for the Netherlands, D for Germany (Deutschland) etc.
This became a fad in the US with various stickers sporting state, airport and place abbreviations or codes.
So when walking down the street in a lovely town in Maine, the souvenir store showing a while oval with the black letters ME on seemed very much in keeping with the zeitgeist. But what was thee tiny additional lettering at the top…? It read:
â€” it’s all about â€”
That pretty much sums up the default response to most of the human condition. It’s why people were burned alive for sharing the information that the earth revolved around the sun, and the universe did not, actually, revolve around us.
This realization has helped explain the advocacy for “Intelligent Design” over Evolutionâ€”a position that was basically incomprehensible to me.
Evolution is a system based, more or less, on meritocracy. Those that survive have adapted most successfully to meet whatever challenges they face. In this perspective, the universe does not revolve around them; they must adapt to the ‘universe.’
So if people are uncomfortable with the uncertainty that vision espouses, or they aren’t sure they would rise to the top of a meritocratic ladder, or they can’t accept the uncomfortable acknowledgement that they are not the center of the universe, or they need a sense of certainty, it’s a problem.
If for any reason they believe they would not measure up, or want to skip the uncertainty and just move to the front of the line, they need to believe that Someone Out There will Favorite them (their definition of intelligence, of course). In a family context, basically, it’s the happy belief that “Dad” likes them best (or whatever all-powerful deity you choose). Thus “Intelligent Design” addresses these uncomfortable-for-some issues.
And while this explanation may not be true for everyone, trying to understand the underlying needs for a belief can be a helpful tool in trying to understand when those beliefs that seem to fly in the face of established knowledge. Stop and consider: what are the often powerful emotional needs that may dictate that belief system? Reason, rationality, science has nothing to do with it. Indeed, if you ever want to appreciate the lack of “intelligence” that has gone into the somewhat random process of evolutionary “design,” do take a look at Neil de Grasse Tyson’s article in Natural History Magazine.
Simone de Beauvoir articulates the male and female roles of Self and Other in The Second Sex. And for me, one of the most powerful aspects of a romance is the evolution the characters undergo in the process of the story. The heroine often developing a stronger Self. The hero’s realization that without the Other, he is not complete.
That it’s really not all about ME.