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Disconnection from the other leads to the dangerous path of aggressive irrationality

In recent days, there have been events in different cities in the United States that exemplify the disconnection between human beings (we no longer see the other as “another one like myself”) and, therefore, highlight the dangers of falling into irrational aggressiveness, that is, seeing another human being only as a threat to be eliminated.

Obviously, there are wars, conflicts, and massacres in (unfortunately) many other places in the world, but we chose the examples we will now share because in all cases the victims neither did anything wrong nor threatened the homeowners who, without saying a word and with no warning, shot the victims.

In one case, a 20-year-old girl was killed in a remote area in rural New York when the vehicle she was traveling in used a driveway to turn back onto the correct path. The 65-year-old property owner said he "didn't like" anyone using his driveway and, therefore, decided to kill the young woman.

In another case, a 6-year-old girl went to get her basketball in front yard of her neighbor's house when a 24-year-old young man living at that house, upon seeing the girl and the girl's father, went out to the street and shot them, causing serious injuries to the father and minor injuries to the girl.

And finally, in Missouri, a young musician went to pick up his siblings and unknowingly rang the doorbell at the wrong house. (His siblings were at a similar address a block away.) The 84-year-old owner shot the young musician from inside the house though a closed door, wounding the young man twice.

In all these cases, an alarming pattern of behavior is clearly seen: “the other” is considered a threat just for being in o near “my territory”, which I must defend with violence even if “the other” only made an innocent mistake (turn on the wrong street, ring the bell at the wrong house) or was just playing (running after a ball.)

This disconnection with the other is as old as Western civilization itself, as evidenced by the complaints the philosopher Heraclitus shared 2,500 years ago. In fact, it could be said that our civilization (which is most certainly about to collapse) is based precisely on an isolating individualism that in our time has been transformed into intolerant narcissism.

When talking about this connection on a social, spiritual, and even universal (nature) level, Heraclitus used the word "logos", which, among many other meanings, means both "logic" and “reason”. In that context, for Heraclitus, the disconnection from the other and, consequently, from nature and from ourselves, was something both illogical and irrational.

The few fragments and anecdotes that remain from Heraclitus make it clear that he understood the social consequences of disconnecting from the other, including, for example, electing incompetent and corrupt leaders, something that it did happen at election time in his hometown of Ephesus. 

Two and a half millennia later, nothing has changed, or perhaps we should admit that now we are much worse off.

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