A Cultural Obsession
Culturally we are obsessed with ‘the one’.
The entire Matrix film series is devoted to the narrative of there being a singular saviour in the character Neo.
Any time there is an overarching idea that there is only one person who can do… X – that’s a very dangerous and unenviable position to be in personally or at a societal level.
Because all of the proverbial eggs are in one basket and the scenario becomes an all or nothing. The pressure on them is like being at the bottom of the sea.
You’ll see and notice the Neo narrative in so many stories, with the hero or warrior being the one, the one person to unite a clan or cause. The one thing needed to conquer, such as a special weapon or power. The only person who can prevent the world from imminent destruction.
You see the same Neo narrative in Holywood with actors and therefore tabloids.
At any particular point in time there is the one, the actress or actor who Hollywood has seemingly endorsed as the bankable starlet, but which requires public participation in that people have to like that person, admire them and see them as a sexual being. Think Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the recipients of an unhealthy obsession with their every move.
The Sporty One
Sports has no comparator in terms of debates on who’s the greatest, the best, the all time great, the GOAT, the greatest of their era and so on. Yet another debate on the one.
Who is the best to play their respective sport?
And of course, people are divided and the greatest at any sport could be debated until death: without resolution.
It’s when names like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Muhammad Ali, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Phelps, Roger Federer, Lionel Messi, Pele, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jack Nicklaus, and Usain Bolt surface.
And it is undeniably fascinating to question the successes, the feats, and the awards. Because it’s tough enough to be a professional sports person, let alone standout above all competitors.
As humans we are pulled towards the achievers in any field. It’s a natural reaction, a type of gravitational affect.
Successful people are magnets for our attention. We may wish to emulate, to feel as if we too can do what they’ve done. Sometimes that’s possible (often it isn’t). But at any one time, depending on your social circle, there’s the number one for something.
Ask for a friend for recommendation for a mechanic, a dentist, a take away, a barber, any kind of service or product. They’ll have an idea of the best one of those they know and may frame it as such.
Partly that is because we like to think we are going to the best X, that we possibly can be. That we own the best product possible. It’s self ingratiating, we feel good about our choice even in cases when there’s no real evidence that the service/product is anything approaching a high standard.
Our attention itself is drawn towards a focal point.
If we know of five different takeaways, we’ll have a favourite. The same goes for just about anything. There’s the grouping of the things, then there’s the convergence on one. The one.
Mate choices are much the same. We look around, explore a bit and then decide, and hope that the other person is as committed as we are to becoming a duo that act as a one.
Oneness is Totalitarian
In 1958, Alduous Huxley, author of Brave New World (an incredible read alongside George Orwell’s 1984 that explores different areas in terms of totalitarian mind control) speaks of a horrific idea that in the future there will be one global leader, the head of a dictatorship.
If you’ve thought about the future of governance and where the world is heading, then it’s really an apocalyptic notion in terms of society that Huxley is talking about and yet! not that unbelievable in terms of possibility.
Some festering turd somewhere, thinks they should run everything. It is certainly a fantasy for some people: the idea of ruling everything has been a story many times, reality too many times and a narrative with an extensive past. To be the one. And not just the one in one particular area, but the one.*
Perhaps the idea of there being only one earth is also what makes space travel so imperative.
To find another place, so that there is not the singular uniting element of one terra firma that we all rely on. Which is being trashed daily without much action beyond talk to rectify the situation. We’re collectively creating or allowing our own slow-mo car crash doom, and the doom of many wonderful and divergent species.
Notice how, apocalypses are always going to happen tomorrow, not today?
Then there is the technological singularity, a theory that we reach a point in the future as a civilisation in which AI surpasses and circumvents the need for people, becoming our electronic rulers within it’s own framework of evolving intellect that we are unable to match or control.
And to what end?
Well, that’s the thing with AI, it’s like sociopaths and psychopaths, there doesn’t need to be an endgame, a point at which it stops. There are only a series of empty victories necessitating the next action.
The concept of oneness exists in many religious, semi-religious and quasi-spiritual texts. For some there’s hope in that idea. That we as human beings are all connected, and connected therefore to the planet and everything on it and in it, with nature, with mother earth.
I understand where they’re coming from but it’s a childish wish, a fantasy fulfilment more than reality. The world is extremely segregated. We operate as individual republics.
I’ve been lucky to travel globally, and yes we all have the same general basic needs, but there are worlds within worlds with zero connectedness. We work within bubbles; the world of bodybuilding is a separate universe to horse racing; which is totally separate from the culture and knowledge of the HR or IT world; a nomad in Mongolia has no links or need for marketing.
Having experienced and seen a fair amount of the world on a very grounded realistic way and different cultures I don’t buy the we are all one fantasy or naivety, which is akin to wanting Santa Claus to be real.
So what is the one all about?
Control. Pure and simple. It’s one of the worst, most disgusting aspects of people, that deep, dark need to be powerful born of weakness. Many would prefer to control others than control themselves, which in itself is an indicator of an inability to control the self, a certainty of misery for them and those they ensnare.
You’ll see people desperate to control others any given day.
The dog walker dragging and jerking the dog’s lead, the needless shouting and directives. The parent(s) with child or children, barking at them instead of letting them explore and express themselves a bit, even putting them on leads…
The manager who lacks social grace and orders instead of asking. The interferer. The person who can’t stop talking, in case the silence brings them thoughts of their self. And so on.
A good counter to control is influence.
Influence is not control, but an indirect way to offer advice or a way to think without prescription. Influence is a teachers way to guide towards water rather than forcing some one to drink.
It allows the other person(s) to think for themselves and make an assessment, to engage their instincts, cognition and self control, to learn to trust their own mind more, not less. Part of the whole mess of control and oneness, of homogenisation, is that people are trusting them selves less and others more.
That’s a path towards what Huxley talked of.
Consider your choices and what’s led you to buy into them.
Be the one, of your own world, but beyond that you’re just another person among many. We need to cooperate. Teamwork makes the dreamwork.
What is your value beyond your self?
*The one does not even need to be real! If a god is considered the all good, a demon all bad, then that leaves a lot of room in between for all kinds of behaviours. They are the polarities of a oneness which actually allow for a huge variation in behaviours that are acceptable, because no one can match the puritanical construct of a god, or the absolute badness of a devil.