“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so…“ William Shakespeare
u don’t know won’t hurt you.” attributed to Margaret Atwood
Yesterday, while stuck in traffic on the way home after visiting our kids, I found myself trapped in an intellectual loop that wouldn’t let me go. It was triggered by something our son-in-law shared during the visit.
He expressed his concern over the rising tide of tribalism and dissension that has become endemic throughout our society. The lack of understanding and alarming ease with which we discount anyone who doesn’t appear to believe as we do. A knee-jerk reaction to cast them out as evil or ignorant. Or, perhaps worse, both.
Do the beliefs you can’t (Or won’t) understand make them a threat to be discounted and avoided at all costs? A vocal enemy that challenges your beliefs by word and deed.
Or are they misguided? The victims of their own unwillingness to see the truth? Your truth.
If they could only see what you see — know what you know, if even for a moment, would they see that truth? Is it possible that reason and knowledge could change their perspective, even slightly? And if it did, would that make a difference? A difference that would result in the peace and harmony we’re all searching for.
It’s easy to admonish them and lament the fact they don’t know what they don’t know while they act as if that lack of knowledge won’t hurt them. As if the right and wrong they see so clearly is simply the manifestation of their closely held beliefs.
The Mirror of those Beliefs…
They look through the mirror of those beliefs and see you as the real threat you pose, just as you see them as the clear and present danger they present. When, in fact, the only real danger is the belief that simply thinking makes it so. That facts no longer matter — that the reality of what is is secondary to the fantasy of desire.
I was thinking about what it would take to fix that when we finally arrived home. What it would take to dial down the vitriol. That’s when another phrase came to mind. One we all know. It’s about the power of empathy. About walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. The importance of understanding and equanimity. Anger may be easier. Perhaps, even more natural. But it’s destructive and certainly more divisive. It isn’t the answer.
That is if it’s an answer you’re looking for…beliefsdivisivethinking makes it sowalk a milewhat you don't know