To varying degrees we all exhibit signs of obsessive compulsive disorder. We, as a population are fixated on the measurement of things. The counting of things. It was not enough to allow the days to pass as they will, we had to count them, and find a governing pattern as it pertains to the our movement around the Sun.
We’ve then expanded and subdivided that pattern as it pertains to other movements we observe and have decided to count and measure them as well. The compulsion is easily seen, we are counters. It is why science has been so unifying for us. If we can count it, then it must be real.
Whats more is that our counting is completely irrational. Counting a thing makes it no more or less true, or impactful but we continue to count nervously, uncontrollably. At this point in time, if we were to stop counting our entire social structure would crumble. Civilization is often thought to be upheld by language, but it is in fact upheld by numbers.
It is not our use of language that has made our expansive growth possible, but our use of arithmetic. As gatherers we only knew where to find food, but as planters cam to understand how to create food and there we began counting. Plan one tree, get 400 apples, plant 10 trees, get 4,000 apples! We love counting because it brings ORDER to our world, and makes the unreliable nature of nature, seem more static. But it is not.
Relentless fixation on the counting of things has led us to be a people that is completely dismissive of things that can not be counted. If behavior is an indicator of though we might be suffering from a great fear. Fear that we might be alone, or that the sun will not rise tomorrow, or perhaps that we are not loved. Some psychologists believe that obsessive compulsive disorder can be caused by an early childhood trauma but this is not definitive as there are other possible factors.
All this would be well and good if it were not harmful to our life and mental health but who is to say it is not? If we are perpetually at odds with our place in nature, and each other does that not signify disfunction? If we ritualistically count and measure phenomena whether or not there is need or benefit from doing so does that not signify obsessive compulsion?
Faith has no power in our modern world. We demand quantification, and where we lack it, there is worry. From early on we measure our height, our bodies, our hair, our homes, our income, and the things we struggle with most are the intangible and uncountable. We have yet to define a sufficient tool to measure, love ,or intelligence, or health, so we trace them all back things we can. We can not measure love, but we can measure how much time is spent with each other. We can not measure health but we can measure length of life. Is this not why time is so important, is has be come our lowest common method of measure, with money fast approaching to usurp its throne.
Our wont of counting has become detrimental in many ways, and we self-justify it by pointing at all the beautiful things counting has brought us, those things, whose beauty must be counted to confirmed. Our counting of days has not lengthened our lives nor has it increased their quality, but it has caused us to fixate on the number of years that have passed. This is not to say that the benefits of science are without merit, we simply face an over emphasis on being able to measure things. If we are ever to heal ourselves from this cognitive disfunction we must be willing to trust, believe, and navigate without the incessant need to count everything around us.
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