By: Ethan Maurice
We began in the middle of the story. Though our beginning may seem like the beginning, it wasn't. We tend to think with storyboards that span the length of our lives—birth to death, beginning to end. Such a storyboard is a bit small, though. Much happened before we arrived and much will happen after our departure.
In regarding the start of our lives as the beginning of all that composes them, we overlook what has come before us and tend to forget that what came before is—get this—almost entirely responsible for our reality today.
It's not just inventions and material advancements of the past that built the physical reality we were born into. It's all the ideas conceived in the past, from democracy to evolution to economics. Logic itself was birthed by the Greeks and handed down through time to us. The language we were taught and the words contained within it allow us to express ourselves but also limit our self-expression to the words those of the past made available to us. Human behavior, expectations, our interpretation of reality... almost everything we know and do stems from those who came before us.
We did not discover these things nor test them. We just accepted them.
Born in the middle, we were brought up and taught this reality. We learned, and learning only comes from an understanding of the past. Ninety-nine percent of what we know and do was handed down to us in a cultural passing of the baton. Now indoctrinated, understanding members of our culture, we hold the baton while standing on the shoulders and acting under the guidance of those who came before us.
Now that we hold the baton we are no longer just students of our collective reality, but also teachers and enforcers of it. We are the living link between those whose stories have ended and those whose stories have yet to begin. Whether we're conscious of it or not, the whole lot of humanity, all of us, right now, are molding our culture and collective understanding—the very reality that all who begin after us will inherit and wholehearted accept as their own, just as you and I have.
Few ever realize it, but this life—our interactions, how we do things, why we do them, and the beliefs we uphold—will continue to be passed on. How we view the world and what we accept as reality will echo down through generations to come. It's one way we can be absolutely sure we will live on.
And here's where it gets crazy: as a society, we're constantly molding our culture, collective understanding, and subsequently, the reality we live in. If we decided to do away with any part of our current reality, it simply wouldn't exist to those who came after us. Having never been taught, they'd be blissfully unaware. Obviously, we can't alter something like gravity, but anything humanly constructed is up for grabs. And though it takes the majority of a culture to change such things, it's each of our individual opinions, beliefs, and knowledge that add up to a collective one.
This is an enormous opportunity and responsibility. Whether we choose to recognize it or not, as long as we participate in society and culture, we're making our own little dents and impressions in it. And the more of us that make the same dent or impression into reality, the larger that shift will be for those who've yet to begin.
So, think about what you do and why you do it. Do things how you think they should be done. And to some degree, no matter how large or small, or for better or worse, know that you're bending the very reality all those who've yet to begin will inherit.
You, I, and everyone we've ever known were born in the middle of the story. Nobody begins at the beginning. But being born in the middle does not mean we have to accept what's been passed down.
We are alive.
We hold the baton.
And before we pass it on, we not only have the power to add to this collective consciousness—we can remove parts, rewrite sections, or throw out the entire thing and write it anew.