Rishi Think's He's Right.

“There’s been no debate or discussion: we’re suddenly potentially on the edge of world war three, without any scrutiny.” Caroline Lucas, talking to a journalist about the RAF’s role in shooting down some of the drones involved in Iran’s attack on Israel.

You might resist this notion. It's natural to want to believe in the importance of our own thoughts. That part of us, trained to assess and prevail in debates, will vigorously argue and find reasons to refute what I'm saying. It struggles to accept that our perspective is just one of many, none inherently true.

Yet, it's evident that as individuals, with unique experiences and perceptions, we don't all see the world the same way. Our lives, shaped by distinct circumstances, contribute to this diversity. Of course you might argue, “But I know what’s right”. For example, “we all feel the warmth of our skin, that’s a fact.” True, to an extent, but not universally applicable, as those in colder climates or different latitudes experience the sun differently. Shared realities require mutual agreement. Claiming a universal truth, like feeling warmth on the skin, lacks significance without collective validation. Instead, we can collectively affirm experiences, like feeling the warmth of the sun, or predictability, such as the sunrise.

However, even predictions differ based on perspective. While one might accurately forecast the future, it's important to distinguish between pragmatic correctness and moralistic righteousness. Moral judgments lack universal consensus and necessitate shared understanding. Being ‘right’ is an illusion.

Believing in one's absolute rightness is a tendency rooted in primitive thinking. When we assert our own correctness, we inherently invalidate the perspectives of others, creating a hierarchy of beliefs. Society reinforces this competitive approach, encouraging us to engage in verbal combat to prove our superiority in determining what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. I view this as a primitive inclination, not limited to one gender but often more pronounced in men due to the influence of patriarchal norms.

As a transgender woman, I've observed contrasting dynamics between male and female interactions. Women, in my experience, are more inclined to embrace differing truths without the need for conflict. In contrast, men frequently engage in rational combat, finding it challenging to relinquish their stance.

I liken this combative mindset, this Petersonesque ‘reality’ to primitive stick fighting, a relic of our evolutionary past. I long for a societal evolution towards a more balanced and empathic way of thinking. Currently, our society prizes analytical thinking, favouring roles that involve judgement, diagnosis, or problem-solving with higher salaries. Conversely, relational thinking, centred on nurturing, listening, and empathising, is undervalued. Most importantly this explains what has contributed to our experiencing environmental collapse (and why technical ‘solutions’ won’t work!).

This imbalance underscores the urgent need for a shift towards relational thinking. We must rapidly cultivate a genuine capacity for connection and understanding in order to avoid Malthusian collapse.

Believing in absolute rightness can have catastrophic consequences for everyone.

Our minds excel at rationalising our actions, serving as the PR department for our less conscious decisions. This type of thinking permeates our daily lives, enabling us to engage in behaviours that harm our planet and future generations. It's the rationale behind driving to work despite knowing the environmental impact. It's the justification for not fully loading the dishwasher or using disposable plastic packaging, which ultimately ends up in landfills, unable to decompose safely.

This mindset extends to our work, sometimes leading us to compromise on ethical standards. It facilitates the arms trade, with dealers and politicians alike justifying their involvement. It fuels violence and discrimination, dehumanizing others and justifying egregious acts. It enabled the enslavement of others, and enables us still to justify the legacies of colonialism. It is the same thinking that enabled the holocaust. It's the same thinking that could rationalize the unthinkable, such as nuclear war.

This type of thinking allows us to distance ourselves from the consequences of our actions, enabling us to perpetuate harm without fully acknowledging its impact. There is an urgent need to recognise the limitations of the enlightenment, and to cultivate our human capacities to feel, in order to have compassion for each other.