Yesterday I re-shared Jeffrey Tucker's Facebook post about the power friendship has to overcome racism. I was pleasantly surprised to see he expanded his thoughts into a complete post on FEE.org: Actually, Friendship Is a Powerful Antidote to Racism.
Please give it a read. I like it because it gets at the heart of something I've been touching on for a while now on my Steemit blog posts. I've railed against authoritarian thinking and tribalism as primitive emotional responses left over in the hardware of our brains courtesy of our ancestors. Since the purpose of life is to propagate our genes, we evolved to adopt the most successful strategies for doing so given scarce resources. As abundance increases (the things you own today, kings could not own in years past), our need for this archaic, often violent, form of social connection goes away. We can live in peace without rulers if we can just get past our own hardware.
As a programmer, I think it terms of hardware (the physical brain) and software (the thoughts which emerge from that brain, leading to new patterns of thinking). The interesting thing about the human brain is its adaptability over time. The thoughts we think and focus on can actually change the hardware connections in the brain!
Jeffrey's post is so good because it reveals one of the most powerful software hacks we can make:
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Love others and be friendly.
As we befriend those we come in contact with (like the Iraqi waiter in Tucker's post), we introduce new software which releases positive emotions and feel good chemicals in our brains. That in turn creates new connections which in essence adjusts our hardware to run better software!
To better illustrate this point, check out this amazing interactive simulation explaining how Cognitive Behavioral Therapy works by Nicky Case. As our brains make connections, those connections grow. As our brains stop making connections, those connections die.
If we take Tucker's advice and focus on love and friendship, I believe we can kill off the authoritarian, tribalistic connections in our brains. Much of humanity is high enough up Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs to move beyond our primitive fears. Most of us are not in a justified state of fear because of a real threat of imminent death. We're living the good life. The more we connect with the world around us, the more compassion we have and the more friendships we build, the better we can lift others up as well.