on extinguishing the ego: killing i

i always use to watch raindrops race each other when it rained. looking out from the inside of the car window, i’d root for the tiniest raindrop on the sill on its journey from one end of the glass to the other. my favorite kind of sport. on their way from the top of the drop-crowded glass, the tiny beads of water would accumulate other drops, growing bigger and bigger, swimming faster and faster, changing direction together as navigated by the wind. other raindrops would zoom past and i’d stare in anticipation, determined to see my raindrop win the race. sometimes it did sometimes it didn’t but i never switched teams because to me, i was the raindrop. i was racing against life.

“the difference is that western philosophy teaches us ‘i think therefore i am,’ while african proverbs teach ‘i am because we are.'” i thought about the raindrop races when i heard this quote in a lecture by actvist professor Mark Lamont Hill. He was talking about steps we must take for true change to occur in this world. in the auditorium of hundreds of people, i wondered if these words sunk in to others like they did to me. i thought about how conditioned we have been to believe that we are all-powerful and that our existence is only defined by our individual selves. as if it affects no one else. as if our energies do not diffuse faster than the speed of light.

i think i myself am victim to this Eurocentric ideology because i still see some truth in “i think therefore i am”. perhaps these concepts could coexist? i must first think myself worthy enough to be. i must first love myself, and by loving myself i would be conscious of how my actions affect others, and in return how they affect me. i would be aware that doing to another soul what i would not wish upon myself is not love. naturally, i would desire to create an atmosphere of peace, of love, and of acceptance, which are usually key values within groups. without those first steps, i don’t think one could even recognize the importance of the collective. You could not possibly find others important if you do not find yourself important. and i may be reaching, but it seems that in this line of thought, the collective does not matter without the individual, and the individual does not matter without the collective.

putting the collective before one’s self requires unlearning. unlearning that some raindrops are superior to others. unlearning that all there is to the world is the glass on which we’re racing. unlearning “every man for himself” and recognizing every man in one’s self. unlearning “I” and learning “tribe”. unlearning that we are the center of the universe. it requires sacrifice. and listening. lots of listening. lots of listening to stories, to cries, to ideas, to the voice of justice, to the song of morality. lots of listening to heart beats.

putting the collective before one’s self demands us to redefine our definition of success from a personal lens to a global lens. it demands us to redefine the soul and the spirit. to redefine what it means to exist.

until then, the revolution cannot begin. not truly.

e.

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