History teaches that people cannot learn the lessons of history. Coevolution with other organisms in bio-systems dictates that people can effectively learn from their own senses. Although humans may learn facts, they cannot learn facts to the same depth of knowing, or with the same intensity, as feeling allows. To belong is to engage this knowing.
War is an excellent example. In history the conquering side owns the honor and truth about the conflict. In experiencing war, however, both adversaries experience something extremely different than truth or honor. They experience loss, death, hurt, rage, hatred, disease, deprivation, desperation, and even depravity. Or worse, as holocaust victims relate, they experience a kind of numbness and hopelessness akin to being the walking dead, more empty than aware.
War is an extreme example, however. What about something as common to all human experience as a broken heart? Almost everyone at some time in their life feels the sharp blow of feeling the one they love is lost to them. It can be a teen gone Emo. It can be a man finding himself lost in booze, or a grandmother addicted to the casino finding herself divorced. It can be a mother who suffers a miscarriage. It can, and is, everybody at some point.
Emotions are to human experience what notes on a page are to a written score of music. One can read the notes, but until one can hear the song, they are not going to be moved by its wailing, joyous noise, or anthem of rebellion. Someone may describe their emotions, or listen with the best of intentions and hopes to comfort, but people are not able to truly feel what another feels without being their exact twin with the same life experience, somewhere in an identical multi-verse.
That senses and making sense are so important to people is clear enough when one examines language. Written language conveys thoughts, ideas, and even emotions, but not with the same intensity as being there. You can read about eating mangoes behind a shimmering waterfall on a sunny day amid the chatter of birds and monkeys, but living it will more thoroughly engage your senses.
If you are reading this behind a shimmering waterfall amid wildlife and with a fresh juicy mango in hand, you would not in any way need to check the written list of descriptions for what you are experiencing. You would be well aware of all of these as you experience it.
Our senses come from nature. Many ecopsychologists believe we have far more than five, or six senses. Is your sense of gravity not a kind of sensation, or your sense of thirst? What about your sense of belonging among loved ones on a summer day? Or your sense of wanting to dance, or needing to scream? We also have time sense, dream sense, and intuitive sense, among others.
Being here engages all the senses. The primary five overlap and spill into all our other senses. We can only know the real world through our senses, no matter how many abstract conceptions we can conjure about quantum physics, or metaphysical faith.
That is why now more than ever before the need to connect to a sen-sate and sensible world allows us to have the astonishing knowing of what we give up by turning our lives into virtual prisons as keyboard convicts. People find more and more that living in cars, in traffic, or in concrete is not fulfilling. Texting and tweeting is great, but we need to breathe the air, taste the fruit, and see a bird sooner or later.
When the veil is lifted and we sense others, all others, not just human others, we can learn from our shared experience, that is our common community, our belonging.