What would it take to be content in this moment, just as it is? Changing our minds; both the hardest and easiest thing we can do.
After reading a bit about the Anne Hathaway kerfuffle on limb differences portrayed in The Witches, I find myself of two minds.
On one hand, we are all imperfect, a work in progress. When we do something stupid from a perspective we haven’t considered, it’s good and useful to have our myopic perspective pointed out.
We need to work to expand our perspective to the point that we can appreciate, even celebrate, our differences. The effort to train our minds to transcend our limited experience is hard work, but it is worth doing.
On the other hand, there is something about the effusive apology that I think makes this work harder. At some level, there’s a judgmental element involved, that people should have already incorporated some perspective and they are somehow less than because they haven’t. I think it is important to take people as they are and look for ways we, together, can move things in a positive direction.
No one has all the answers. No one is inherently better than anyone else. We all have something valuable that the world desperately needs. Like not being sensitive to limb difference, when we judge people rather than look for the good in their outlook, we are being a different variety of myopic. In the process, we lose the opportunity to expand our own perspective. In turn, you are also cutting them off from the good you are bringing to the table.
As the Mr. Rodgers saying goes, people are only open to change when engaged with someone that loves them. There are two religions, being right or loving someone. It’s impossible to be a member of both of these faiths at the same time.
I keep seeing a disconnect between how I view and how other people view the world. For example, there are members of Republican Party in the state and local governments that think that the coronavirus pandemic is largely over and that we are about to see a huge economic resurgence that is going to sweep President Trump, and by extension the Republican Party into office.
Another is the speed in which a vaccine will be produced for the pandemic. The historical rate for vaccines is roughly ten years. The fastest it has ever been done is for Ebola, which still took five years. However, there are people that think that a coronavirus vaccine will be available inside of one year, in addition to those that think is is gone already.
I, on the other hand, think that the pandemic will last two years, at minimum. We may have a few treatments that reduce the severity at some point in the disease progression, but it’ll cut the infection fatality rate from 1% to no less than 0.5%. And while it continues, there is going to be Great Depression impacts on the economies of the vast majority of the world’s economies, >90%. Obviously, this has important implications in the upcoming U.S. Presidential elections. With one view, Trump has re-election in the bag. In my view, he’s already toast.
We have roughly six months, and we will see whose world view was the correct one.
“Potential to alter/broaden the reader’s perspective, however slight. More than anything, I want stuff that’ll provoke thinking. Maybe you read something you’re still mulling over long after? That’s what I’m on the lookout for. Good examples of this are Jess Zimmerman’s Toast piece on emotional labor, Adichie’s TED Talk on the danger of a single story, and Scalzi’s blog on the lowest difficulty setting.”—EXStickland, “Essays/Articles That Opened Your Mind, ” Metafilter. October 1, 2019.
Discussion about books that have changed people’s perspective, starting with original poster’s experience with Freakonomics. Quite a few interesting book recommendations in this thread.
A few recommendations I liked include: Peter Watson’s Ideas, Jonathan Haidt’s Righteous Mind, Donald Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things, Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication, Ramachandra Guha’s India After Gandhi, and Bruce Beuno de Mesquita’s The Dictator’s Handbook.
After reading the discussion, I thought it might be worthwhile to start a Key Books page on this site.
“The undiscerning mind is like the root of the tree, it absorbs equally everything it touches, even the poison that would kill it.”—Kung Fu (television series)
Recently, I got into an online discussion where someone was trying to convince me that I should listen to some podcast that explained some current conspiracy related to the United States government. I told them that I was not interested.
Then, they encouraged me to have an open mind and listen to both sides of the argument. They also claimed to listen to the “other” side and offered as evidence that they watched CNN.
It’s a strange perspective. The reality is that there are an infinite number of sides. Our perspective is shaped by our lives, and by virtue of that, all of them are unique. We lose this uniqueness when we try to narrow and conform our view to just two possibilities.
Of course, it is important to keep an open mind and to be open to new perspectives. But, it is equally as important to screen your influences. Obviously, if you are screening your influences to limit them to perspectives close to yours or to just two, you are creating a filter bubble (or two) and are losing out on all the variety and opportunities for growth that exist in the world.
But, on the other hand, some ideas are simply bad and do not lead to growth, except in reaction. After getting the basic idea behind notions of racial superiority and judging it bad, it is unnecessary to evaluate every instance of this phenomena. Whether it is Christian Identity in the United States, Hindu Nationalism, notions of the “Original Black Man” and so forth, these ideas are about building a sense of self-worth from one’s racial identity.
Taking pride in being a part of a race is just as much of a part of racism as being prejudiced against people because of their race. One feeds into the other, the yin/yang that perpetuates itself through the generations and forms in and out groups.
It may be that there is a place for this type of thinking in a world with a history of subjugation, such as colonialism and slavery. It may, in some instances, serve as a corrective that at some point is no longer is necessary. Like women only transportation or classrooms, once society has progressed enough these measures can be dispensed with in order to transition to full equality. Although, they can also be obstacles to this kind of progression.
“Separate but equal” systems tend to perpetuate themselves and the very systems of subordination they are trying to address. Similarly, lifting up a race by focusing on the good qualities of the “race” has a similar effect. It is a dangerous crutch, and for me personally, racial identity is not an idea that would be a good lens for viewing the world. No amount of additional information is going to change my mind on this topic. This is a kind of virus meme, and it would cause an illness of character.
It is important to find our own path in this life, and it is impossible to do that if we allow every influence into our mind. Not being discriminating about our influences turns the pure water of our unmediated experience that we can use to live a unique life of meaning into a sewer of preconceived notions. It’s another form of colonization, just of the mind.
To paraphrase the great sage, George Clinton, “You got to free your mind, and your ass will follow.” There is no greater freedom than to choose what is good for you and to limit your exposure to the bad. The trick is not to think the new or different is bad.
“This is a collection of “persuasive” cartography: more than 800 maps intended primarily to influence opinions or beliefs – to send a message – rather than to communicate geographic information. The collection reflects a variety of persuasive tools , including allegorical, satirical and pictorial mapping; selective inclusion; unusual use of projections, color, graphics and text; and intentional deception. Maps in the collection address a wide range of messages: religious, political, military, commercial, moral and social.”
h/t Open Culture.
“Once there was a fish and a turtle who were friends. They had been living in the same lake together for some time. One day the turtle decided to visit the land surrounding the lake. She had a good look around and came back to tell her friend the fish of the wonders she had seen. The fish was very interested and asked the turtle what it was like on land. The turtle answered that it was very beautiful. The fish then wanted to know whether it had been transparent, cool, rippling, shiny, smooth, good for gliding, buoyant, and wet. When the turtle said it had none of these attributes, the fish said, ‘What can be beautiful about it then?'”
—Ayya Khema, “Being Nobody, Going Nowhere.” Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1987. Pg. 146.