Same and different people

| January 10, 2012 | 3 Replies

A friend of mine sometimes mentioned a thought that he considered disturbing: If you could rise up high enough into the air, human beings would all started looking the same, like a bunch of ants. One consequence of this perspective is that particular humans would seem expendable and replaceable.

Personally, I vacillated between thinking that human animals are exquisitely different from each other or disturbingly the same. Along came Donald Brown to convince me that we are deluded to think that people are meaningfully different from each other.

Last night my wife and I watched an unusual video that, to me, reinforced this idea that humans everywhere are largely the same. The video is title “Life in a Day,” and it was produced by National Geographic. Imagine 4,500 hours of video all all shot on the same day, edited down to 94 minutes. Here is a description of the project at the site where you can view the entire video:

Director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and producer Ridley Scott (Alien, Gladiator) team up to offer this candid snapshot of a single day on planet Earth. Compiled from over 80,000 YouTube submissions by contributors in 192 countries, Life in a Day presents a microcosmic view of our daily experiences as a global society. From the mundane to the profound, everything has its place as we spend 90 minutes gaining greater insight into the lives of people who may be more like us than we ever suspected, despite the fact that we’re separated by incredible distances.

This is a compelling video that I recommend. It reminded me that most of what I think of as “happening” are the images and sounds I personally experience. For the most part, I don’t know what in the world is going on. While I live my life, and it seem important to me, 7 billion other people are living lives that they consider equally important. The video is a terrific reminder that we are each only a tiny part of a much bigger whole.

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Category: Films, Human animals, Videos

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (3)

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  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    Individuals are to society much like blades of grass are to a lawn. Each unique, yet each replaceable.
    Detail depends on the scale of observation.

  2. Mike M. says:

    Dan: Yes, good analogy. I like to view us (humans and all other biomass units) as unique wave-forms on the ocean. All waves are connected to the same field (the ocean) yet each one displays different characteristics, and is also in constant motion/change. From a distance all waves may appear similar, yet each has a different force, composition, “history”, color, duration, and effect on it’s environment–just like us. A “normal” wave has yet to be discovered, and neither has a “normal” human being. It’s a paradox (as are many great truths) that we’re all absolutely unique bits, but part of the identical whole. We go with our environment and cannot be separated from it, just like you cannot have matter without space, or “here” without “there”.

  3. This talk of waves brings thoughts of the quantum metaphor.

    Is not humanity also simultaneously waves and particles? As particles we, and our behaviour, may matter very much to our surrounding particles, but as part of a wave we are lost in the flow.

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