When I was a child I thought like a child

Rachel Saunders
4 min readFeb 16, 2024
Photo by Fröken Fokus from Pexels: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-jumping-photo-127968/

To be alive is to be much more than the body you live in. The body is the thing seems to be a clamour those who root the human experience in biology make, only seeing the flash and blood rather than the totality of our experiences. Descartes expounded on I think therefore I am into something entwining the body and the mind, this dualism rich and textured that subverts bodies alone. It is always a folly simply to root humanity in the physical form, as in reducing us all to flesh and bones we become mere numbers, discounting what truly makes us alive. It is easy to explain to a child that the body is the thing, to make them care for others based on the external. Yet, as we grow and mature it is the inner self, the human condition, that comes the most precious thing. Every time a person dies a quantum of humanity is snuffed out, all our experiences, all our thoughts, all that made us the person we were. It is the very universe made manifest that ceases to exist. Yet, there are many who still insist that the body is the thing.

It is not enough simply to gaze on another person: you wonder about their inner lives, inner self, unless you are sociopathic. To be around others is to build bridges between you and them, and you actively have to be conditioned out of empathy to kill. You must be taught that other people are indeed other, not friends waiting to be made. Hate is not natural. There is a famous picture of a small white child dressed in a Klan outfit standing in wonder before a black police officer, an example of the possible bridges before hate takes root. Children are taught to fear and distrust the other, for how else do you go from wonder to vitriol. Life is much more than the hate we are taught, the fears we develop, it is the complex wonder and awe-inspiring entanglements that emerge as we grow.

Without empathy we are left hollow, shells waiting to be filled with bitterness. There is no room of compassion, love, the milk of human kindness unless we start from empathy. Othering those on the outside of our personal networks happens because we cannot see them as equals to us. To kill is to waste their potential, destroy what ever they had in the name of what we want. All hate starts from a position of fear, starts with being taught to loathe and denigrate. That so many find it easy to hate and insult shows how much the child…

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