Fundamental Equality and Functional Difference: A Back-to-the-Body Perspective


LibertéEver since the French Revolution of 1789, people all over the world have endeavored to live in a society of liberty, equality, and brotherhood, proclaiming the French Revolution’s motto: Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. In this article, I discuss the basic equality of all people, which comes from the body. Next, I show that people can live together only if they are willing to perform different functions—that is, the functions of stomach, brain, or heart. Finally, I mention the expansion of the family through various social levels up to the levels of nation and world.

Fundamental Equality: The Body

inequality conflictWe humans are equal because he have a human body. This fact establishes the fundamental equality among all people. Regardless of origin, circumstances, gender, or diversity, we humans are equal in the sense that we all have a human body.

Thus, the American Revolution was based on the belief that all humans are created equal, and this has become the core value of political and social life in the United States. Genius, skillful leadership, and admirable accomplishments can come from any background, from any social setting, any gender, any ethnicity. Here are a few examples of people who came humble beginnings and went on to make great contributions to society: Andrew Carnegie, Charlie Chaplin, Larry Ellison,  Abraham Lincoln, Jesse Owens, George Soros, Sylvester Stallone, Oprah Winfrey.

Different Functions: The Stomach, the Brain, and the Heart

As humans, we are all equal, since we all have a human body. But in order to live together and to harmonize with one another, we must voluntarily accept to play certain roles and perform certain functions in society. The fundamental tenet of the back-to-the-body perspective is that the functions of society will mirror the functions of the human body. These functions are described by the metonymies of “stomach,” “brain,” and “heart.” The stomach sets the will, which comes from life. The brain provides the means and the logical apparatus of truth to fulfill the will and to satisfy the thriving of life. And the heart provides the way and the inspiration so that we nourish ourselves and fulfill our purpose.

A RoleIn this way, we can be part of a team, that is, a social group. In order to be a part of a team, a person must be willing to accept a function, or a role, that you play. If you are taking part in team sports, for instance: You can choose to be a player, a referee, a coach, a fan. You can be successful only in so far as you understand, accept, and play the part that is assigned to you—or the part that you have voluntarily accepted. That is the “team spirit”: That each member of the team understands his/her part and is willing to fulfill that part.

This does not mean, of course, that a person will play one role forever. The roles may change, may evolve. We may play multiple roles at the same time. For example, a teacher that goes back to school to get a higher degree plays the rol of a teacher in one setting, and of student in another.

To paraphrase Shakespeare, when you live in society, it is like being on a stage: You are constantly performing a certain role, a certain function. Young people fulfill the role of brain—the left side of the brain and the right side of the brain. The left side criticizes the way society is; the right side imagines the way society could be.

Once you become an adult, you can choose to be a creative power and a thriving life, which is the function of the stomach. Or you can be a nourishing power that instructs, heals, supports, distributes what has been created, and provides guidance. That is the function of the heart. Or you can concern yourself with the well-being of society, protection of citizens, enforcements of laws, and prosecution against crime. That is the function of the brain, or the government.

As humans, we have the potential and the capacity to fulfill every function—but in actual practice, we must choose a specific function that we wish to fulfill. Suppose you wish to fulfill the role of a judge, a teacher, a doctor, a bus driver, or an ice-cream maker. All you need to do is acquire the necessary qualifications for those functions and then find people who have a need of that function and are willing to reward you for your fulfilling that function for them.

Suppose, for instance, you want to be a soccer player. Start out when you are four years old; practice every day; keep your body relaxed, well-nourished, and well-rested. Do stretching; do endurance training; do muscle toning. Keep your mind calm and your vision broad and clear. Keep your emotions bright but soft, your words congenial, and your attitude sportsmanlike. Find people who are willing to work with you as a team. The stage is set: Behold the soccer player!

As you can see, then, we humans are fundamentally equal, but when we interact with other people, we pick roles that you wish to play. And these roles are different. This differentiates us from one another. So, fundamentally we are equal, but in function we are different.

Nobles Functions and Common Functions


To be noble is to serve the nation..

In Society, there are functions that are noble, and functions that are common. What makes a function noble? A function is noble if it affects the entire body or vital parts of the body. The person fulfilling these functions cannot easily be replaced. A function is common if it is local and does not affect the whole body or a vital area. The individuals fulfilling the common functions can easily be replaced. Thus, the noble is global, and the common is local. A good citizen is one who is willing to perform both the noble and the common functions, according to the needs of society. They are equally comfortable in a five-star hotel or in a humble home in the village. A great person, then, is someone who “thinks” globally, with noble thoughts, but “acts” locally, with common deeds. In the movie Patton, for instance, at some point the General gets off his jeep and begins to direct tank traffic, because the tanks were getting stuck in the mud. Or the president of a nation who, when visiting his mother, offers to help with the dishes after dinner.

Social Expansion: Family, Clan, Tribe, Nation, World

Regardless of the level of development in the social structure, every structure will display the same basic functionality as found in the human body. This is the proposed tenet of the back-to-the-body perspective. It is presented as a hypothesis to be tested again again. It is not, therefore, a dogma to be blindly believed.

If we apply this to the family, we have in the family someone who plays the role of the stomach; someone who plays the role of brain; and someone who plays the role of heart. The stomach provides creative energy and the thriving power of life; the brain provides truth as a critical analysis of what is (left brain; the left wing in politics), and also truth as the imagination of what is possible (right brain; right wing in politics). The correct path consists in the middle way between the two extremes. Finally, the heart is the nourishing power, the healing power, and the guiding power, providing the way to accomplish the family’s purpose.

In the natural way of the family, a male adult plays the role of stomach (the father), a female adult plays the role of heart (mother), and the children play the role of brain—both the left side of the brain and the right side of the brain. Thus, a family’s children are typically divided in progressives and conservatives—whereas the parents remain united as a common base to keep the family’s union. If the parents break apart and side with a particular child against the other, then the family is torn asunder.

Suppose, for instance, that the mother sides with the left-wing of the children, against the father, who has sided with the right-wing of the children. This creates the stereotypical “Thanksgiving dinner,” in which the children and the parents and the children express diametrical views about race relations, immigration, social welfare, US foreign policy, and religion-based terrorism. If, however, the father and the mother establish between the two of them a basic understanding and unity, then become like strong roots for the family. Whatever winds may come—either from the left or from the right—will pass on, and the family re-establishes its peace and unity.

Triad or Power

A relaxed brain, an active heart; and a healthy stomach.

This basic pattern of stomach, heart, and brain (with two wings) expands to the clan, the tribe, the nation, and the world. But at every instance, the unity of that particular social group will depend on parents’ unity—in other words, on the unity of those individual who play the role of parents at that social level. Thus, a clan needs parents; a tribe needs parents; a nation needs parents. Finally, the world itself needs parents. Or else, humankind becomes like brothers and sisters separated by a conflicting ideology and looking at the opposing side as evil.

Looking at the family and at society from the perspective of the body, therefore, we can say that humans have a basic equality. But in society, the functions that they play are different. It is up to each individual, then, to understand their function and to perform it well. Crucially, though, the functions of parents are key to a peaceful world.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
Thanksgiving Day, 2015

Photo Credits:
Inequality = Conflict; Author: craftivist collective; Source:; Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

Liberté. Author: Ben Sutherland. Source: Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).

Role. Author: BK. Source:; Creative Commons License: Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Nobility. Author: RV1864. Source: Creative Commons License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

Triad. Author: Army Medicine. Source: Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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