The only thoughts I’ll ever truly know are my own. And yet, that doesn’t stop me from wanting to not be alone.
People spend their lives trying to belong: to a spouse, to a family, to a tribe, to a cause, to a country. Where does this need to be more than an individual come from?
Why do we feel the need to belong?
Related questions: Why do we care what strangers think of us? What does it mean to belong to a country? What are our responsibilities to others?
Public speaking is a common fear. People, it seems, are afraid of embarrassing themselves in front of a large audience, and losing public approval.
Why should that be? If someone speaks in front of a large group of strangers, why should their reaction matter? Setting aside an instance, say, like a job interview, where a stranger’s impression of you has something to do with your future, what difference should it make whether complete strangers, who we have never met before and will never see again, should like or approve of us?
Why do we care what strangers think of us?
Related questions: Where do our fears come from? When is embarrassment a good thing? Why do we behave differently alone or in large groups?
In pre-flight instructions, you are always advised, in the case of emergency, to take care of yourself before assisting others. This makes sense, because you won’t be able to help another if you yourself are in jeopardy.
This reasoning could be extended, however, to never actually helping anyone other than yourself. That doesn’t seem right. Helping others can end up helping you — a rising tide lifts all boats, as the saying goes.
A balance between yourself and others needs to be found. Hence the question: What are our responsibilities to others?
Related questions: What is the best way to help others? What is the best way to help yourself?