A Blog about Sensory Processing Sensitivity from the Worldview of a High Sensing Male
In previous blogs, I have repeatedly stated that I think we often get too hung up on qualities surrounding gender, what is masculine and feminine. Instead, let us emphasize the importance of being human first. Being human first supersedes the gender designations culture applies to us and allows us to be more flexible and expansive in how we allow ourselves to be defined.
The Zulu of Africa have a concept related to humanness called Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a term meaning humanity, roughly translated as “I am because you are.” It is a definition of personhood as reflected by others. An ideal that shares a collective humanity in recognizing the individuality and uniqueness of others as part of a universal community. Being human is being you, and being you is being part of everyone else.
This is so important today because we have fallen prey to a collective aspiration of self-centered culture. The media and social media see ego-centric individualism as heroic and noble. Moreover, the age-old concept of hegemonic masculinity, which places the individual, largely men, but women, too - in a place of domination has largely created the state of the world we see. The exploitation of others, exploitation of the planet, and unbridled greed have led us to a near brink of destruction.
Today, it is more important than ever to see the world as a collective, a place where we all depend on each other, and our survival depends on the survival of the species. We need now more than ever a form of reciprocal altruism to be our defining goal. Reciprocal altruism is a biological concept that offers that an individual will act in a way that temporarily reduces its fitness while increasing another organism’s fitness, hoping that the favor will be returned at some point. I don’t see the wrong in a conscious act that benefits you if you also benefit another. Indeed, it is an act of enlightened self-interest, that which promotes you promotes me.
A lofty goal, to say the least. How do we put the brakes on our current situation and start focusing on our collective self-interest? I think it begins by emphasizing the humanity in all of us. That we as individuals are human first and the other labels, we attach to ourselves become secondary. That one link that connects us to all humanity is our humanness.
What does it mean to be human?
Being human first and foremost, can be a virtue. It embodies human love and compassion towards our fellows and the planet as a whole. It arises from recognizing our uniqueness as a stand-alone human and the necessity of needing the other members of our species as a prerequisite to survival. The importance of largely human strengths of love, kindness, and social intelligence adds to our humanity. We have often abandoned these attributes in favor of hate, greed, and exploitation for personal reward.
Being human can also be expressed on an individual level, towards ourselves as well as to others. By embracing the universal human qualities encapsulated as masculine and feminine, we individually can balance and employ the traits that we all possess as humans. On a cultural and societal level, we can express our humanity as a collective hive expression. What we prioritize and what we fund is what we are.
There has always been an age-old debate of what being a human means. Philosophy often mires the discussion with intellectualism. They are offering hopeless arguments with little real-world application. Can we globally define humanity – simple and elegant and easily grasped by everyone? More than just a moral or philosophical definition but is fully able to express what humans can do. Balance is key, striving towards the best traits and managing the negative ones.
We are upholding our positive attributes: our ability to communicate complex and abstract thought with language, using our bigger brains imaginatively to create change for good; our ability to express our essence via art, music, and the written word, our ability to show proactive kindness, the ability to understand each other and the ability to link our minds in unparalleled ways. We can distinguish ourselves from others and yet recognize the other as our own. We embrace spiritual concepts that transcend our physical reality. But the most important feature maybe this idea of Ubuntu.
Why not try to be human first.
What would happen if we embraced our humanness in ways that were complimentary to each other and ourselves? How might this change us as individuals and societally? Could we learn to move past tribalism and individualism and become more humane to ourselves, our fellow humans, and the world we are a part of? We start by raising our children to embrace their humanity first by showing them the common connections between themselves and all humans. Quit assuming divisive labels that sequester groups as good or bad. We first recognize that we are a constellation of many stars, each unique and worthy of our own light and part of the greater galaxy and universe of collective potential.
We must understand that the human genome can include all of us and yet express itself in a seemingly infinite number of ways. We teach this to our children young, and then they grow up respecting themselves and others. Embrace the individual and support the collective. Herein lies the balance.
Why gender definitions may aid in this transition.
For too long, the dominant gender expression has been that of hegemonic masculinity. The exploitative form of masculinity that subordinates women, children, people of different races, non-heterosexual men, or less aggressive men promotes the idea of domination and aggressive and violent behavior to others who do not measure up to this definition of manhood. As Francesca Maria Morettini states, “Hegemonic masculinity, therefore, produces far-reaching effects on society, harming social equality and human development.”. Furthermore, she continues, “hegemonic masculinity affects international relations, domestic politics, military practices, education and sport; corporate governance and the emergence of transnational business masculinities…”.
Gender roles are generally defined by the culture we are raised in. However, gender identity is a much more complex process involving genetics, hormonal influences, gene regulation in brain cells, and societal factors such as family and culture. There is pressure to conform to societal norms. The idea of being human first is to not norm gender to a preconceived standard but to eschew cultural gender identity to allow the individual to find their spot along a continuum of being human.
This is not to say we discontinue being male or female. Rather, it means this becomes secondary to becoming human first, identifying with the individual’s humanity, which can be expressed in many ways. I believe the LGBQT+ community is leading the idea of gender fluidity and non-binary gender ids. If we embrace the idea that we are all human, as many indigenous people have, we allow ourselves to be fully human first.
The earth is not self-destructing. It is humans that are destroying humans and the habitat that we survive in. We HSPs are, in my opinion, being called to help warn and instruct on this self-destructive pattern that we humans have been taking. I believe it can be done, but it is not a task for the faint-hearted. It is an intergenerational task, one that will take many years. We can start by keeping things simple yet broadly defining the tasks ahead.
One of the major tasks is the notion of creating Ubuntu in the world. Without it, I am afraid we will continue down a path that we won’t escape, nor will our children or our grandchildren and beyond. It requires vision, insight, and empathy: compassionate human intuition and thoughtful logic. Convincing the world will be difficult, but it starts as always at the individual level. Changing our view of our humanness is essential. We must be human first. Remember Ubuntu.
Please share your thoughts in the comment section.
Bill Allen currently lives in Lutz, Florida. He previously lived in Bend, Oregon. He is a certified hypnotist and brain training coach at BrainPilots.com. He believes that male sensitivity is not so rare, but it can be confounding for most males living in a culture of masculine insensitivity which teaches boys and men to disconnect from their feelings and emotions. His intent is to use this blog to chronicle his personal journey and share with others.