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Posted on 2012.08.29 at 00:00
Current Location: 67114
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People believe they are right about the things they believe they are right about. When I mention this phenomenon the reply is usually, "Don't you?" My answer is often viewed with suspicion, because no, I do not. My beliefs are quite malleable, being based upon current information and understanding - two things I acknowledge can change. To me, what is suspicious is those who deny that acknowledgement. That is truly an example of the extraordinary.

I suppose at our core, all humans desire to be understood. I see this as a three-fold process: Understanding ourselves, imparting that information to another adequately, and understanding others. To this end one tool we have at our disposal which far surpasses any other is communication, something some people see as a luxury afforded only the esoteric.

Despite my miserable track record I've been fascinated with non-violent communication as it relates to subjectivity - something which I saw in myself as being guilty of and am now learning to integrate. Its pervasiveness makes it quite the challenge. In order to effectively communicate, we must remove evaluative words which are subject to interpretation - as a start - everything can be interpreted differently, but at least with a starting point of non-judgmental evaluation, only then can we deconstruct meaning.

It is frustrating to attempt to communicate with people who do not understand themselves, do not want to understand themselves, do not understand me, do not want to understand me, and have no interest in the idea of mutual understanding outside their own paradigm. "Right" is a subjective term. What one group of people consider right, another group of people may not. "Wrong" and "normal" fall under the same scrutiny.

Kathryn Schulz on TED: "On Being Wrong" (thanks to pcofwildthings) A Series of Unfortunate Assumptions:

Trusting too much in the feeling of being on the correct side of anything, can be very dangerous. This internal sense of rightness that we all experience so often is not a reliable guide to what is actually going on in the external world. And when we act like it is, when we stop entertaining the possibly that we could be wrong...this is a huge practical problem. But its also a huge social problem. Think for a moment about what it means to feel right. It means that you think that your beliefs just perfectly reflect reality. When you feel that way, you've got a problem to solve. Which is, how are you going to explain all of those people who disagree with you? It turns out most of us explain those people the same way - by resorting to a series of unfortunate assumptions.

The first thing we usually do when someone disagrees with us is we just assume they're ignorant. That they don't have access to the same information that we do and when we generously share that information with them they're giong to see the light and come on over to our team. When that doesn't work - when it turns out those people have all the same facts that we do and they still disagree with us, then we move on to a second assumption - which is that they're idiots.

They have all the right pieces to the puzzle and they're too moronic to put them together correctly. And when that doesn't work, when it turns out that people who disagree with us have all the same facts we do, and are actually pretty smart, then we move on to a third assumption - they know the truth, and they are deliberately distorting it for their own malevolent purposes.

This is a catastrophe. This attachment to our own rightness keeps us from preventing mistakes when absolutely need to, and causes us to treat each other terribly. But to me what's most baffling and most tragic about this is that this is the whole point of being human. We want to imagine that our minds are just these perfectly tranlucent windows and we just kinda gaze out of them and describe the world as it unfolds. And we want everybody else to gaze out of the same window and see the same thing, and that's just not true.

I recently discovered why I struggle. Programming. When the things I experience; learn, differ from that which I was taught as truth - a reconciliation absolutely must take place. This is the source of my struggle - attempting to overwrite one ideology with another. Childhood programming runs deep, and while I've recently been astonished to discover those who do not care to question their own behavior, beliefs, values or worldview; directed maturation seemingly runs deep within me. My father did it, and I benefited from it. I'm doing it - and I'm already enjoying the results in my own children - the unencumbered freedom of open-mindedness and being non-judgmental.

Though changing oneself is certainly challenging at times.

Which is why I struggle.

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