Humans rule the world because they have imaginations. They have an ability to believe in things that don’t actually exist. They can also convince each other to believe in these imaginary ideas which allows them to cooperate on such a large scale.

Physically, humans fall somewhere in the middle of the food chain. They do not stand a chance against lions or bears in the wild, but they can easily catch rabbits and chickens. For a long time, their cognition was only developed to a certain point. They couldn’t believe in things that they couldn’t experience with their senses, so they continued to roam the world in small bands, simply existing in the world as they knew it.

Once humans developed the ability to believe in myths that don’t exist, everything changed. They were able to imagine a world that didn’t exist yet. They were able to conjure up structures and systems and realities that nobody had ever seen or experienced before. They gained the ability to improve the reality.

Religions, corporations, philosophies, morals, economics, politics, money, don’t exist in reality. Bank notes are IOUs that represent different amounts of something that doesn’t actually exist. You can’t touch an economy or a religion. You can’t see or hear a business. You can touch the products that a business creates and you can touch the humans that make it run, but the business itself is an imaginary myth that exists only in the minds of everyone who believes it exists.

You can’t convince a chimpanzee to give you a banana by promising him an afterlife filled with unlimited bananas for the good deed. He won’t believe you. But you can convince a human of such a thing. They do it to each other all the time.

When somebody creates a business, he starts by convincing people to believe the myth that he created. This is done when he hires a team of people, registers the business legally, makes sales, and has the product built. Once there is tangible evidence of the business, more people are likely to believe it exists. But they still cannot see the business itself. Religions started the same way. They only work because X number of people have agreed to believe it works.

This is unprecedented. Physically, humans are still in the middle of the food chain. Without understanding how the human mind thinks and believes, the fact that they created cities, waged wars, and stepped foot on the moon seems utterly illogical. No other animal has come close to this type of world domination.

But this happened because they started worked together. Rather than each band of humans fending for themselves, they operated through beliefs that were outside of themselves. This opened up the possibility for cooperation on a massive scale because they didn’t have to communicate directly with one another to have the same goals. People in different parts of the world could now believe in the same things which allowed them to orient themselves toward the same outcomes. They built villages, then cities, then empires, then countries. They built religions, political systems, philosophies, and morals. The people working towards these ends were collaborating with people they would never meet who were standing on opposite sides of the globe.

Right now, we all believe that the country borders are as they are. Imagine if everyone in the world decided to believe that those borders don’t exist and the world was one big open country. It’s possible. That’s how the world actually is. Borders are made up. But humans continue to believe in these myths because it’s the very thing that allowed them to band together and create the world around them rather than existing as passive participants of it.