People are difficult characters. With an axe to grind they seem to live their lives through a tiny prism of the way they think the world should be. We have a duty to expand that prism.
The oldest person I know said to me, during an existential conservation, that we are just explorers here. That is our purpose to explore and seek out new experiences. I would add that we are also sculptures. Leaving our mark on the landscape we can experience through our senses.
Many people don’t seem to do either of these things. They seem to be an expression of themselves, trapped in a microsphere of their own making. Unable to see the world from any other perspective than the narrow band they choose to inhabit.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m like that. I am prepared to concede that on some issues I am. The people around me tell me I am stubborn, so perhaps being unwilling to accept others point of view is all part of the experience. Maybe we have a predisposition to closed-mindedness and it is one of the hurdles in life to not shut down when our preconceptions of life are challenged.
But perhaps it is also necessary. We need to have strong beliefs and opinions, otherwise we run the danger of diluting ourselves to insipience. Or conceding to the stronger more dominant members of our society, whose views may be abhorrent.
I think the trick is to try and remember that staunch belief you have is just that. A belief. One of infinite other beliefs that have existed and will exist. I believe that a belief is meaningless unless it is grounded by a truth. It is a perspective of a truth and nothing more. Just like we can agree a rock is a rock we may find we disagree about its colour, size, location and how it got there. The rock is the truth, everything else is our perception based on our experience of the rock. What we choose to believe, based upon our perception of the rock does not affect the truth of the rock’s being.
Mark Passio, a superb author and broadcaster, defines truth simply as all that has happened, or is happening. I have racked my brain and I cannot think of a better explanation of what the truth may be. I have tested the same on a group of friends and they too were stumped to come up with a better definition. Having such a simple and succinct explanation removes subjectivity out of defining ‘the truth’. The affectation of “your truth” is actually alluding to perception of truth, not truth itself. The truth is the truth and it cannot be anything else.
I perceive that it is wrong to be prejudice, because I would not want people to be prejudice against me. My experience tells me I feel bad when someone makes assumptions about me before they have given me a chance. I understand from other people that they feel the same way. Even when these people are prejudice themselves, they do not stand comfortably in the same spotlight. I have come to believe prejudice is manifest fear. Fear which causes pain and suffering when it is expressed into the world. Because of the truths that have arisen as a result of prejudice being expressed (lynching, murder, other violent or oppressive behaviours), I conclude that prejudice is an inherently destructive manifestation of fear. My perception of prejudice seems sound based on the truths created. This is and example and not a particularly difficult argument to make. Although fear based prejudice is surprisingly popular still.
As with just about everything in life a greater person has already been there before and did or said it better. This post is no exception. Bill Hicks, the comedian, said:
“The world is like a ride in an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. The ride goes up and down, around and around, it has thrills and chills, and it’s very brightly colored, and it’s very loud, and it’s fun for a while. Many people have been on the ride a long time, and they begin to wonder, “Hey, is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” And we … kill those people. “Shut him up! I’ve got a lot invested in this ride, shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.” It’s just a ride. But we always kill the good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok … But it doesn’t matter, because it’s just a ride. And we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings of money. Just a simple choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your doors, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defences each year and instead spend it feeding and clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded, and we could explore space, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace.”
There is so much packed into that statement. I sometimes find it difficult to believe this formed part of a stand up comedian’s act. It has taken me years to properly understand it. I used to hear it and my perceptions would waver, as my beliefs were being challenged. When Hicks hits the most truthful beats my beliefs were most tested and the message kind of fuzzed out as my brain tried to process it.
Testing opinions, challenging ourselves and the beliefs we hold to be right is all part of the process. Part of the exploration and the sculpture we are here to carve.