I cannot adequately put words to this phenomenon. I am certain actually that the coming paragraphs will have many traditionally applicable labels from psychology, sociology and many disciplines be they scientific, spiritual, artistic. I haven’t looked for labels, I am going to try to impart a feeling, a concern, a curiosity, a hope.
I feel a sense of dis-ease, discomfort and a generally lack of fulfillment in conversations from time to time. This lack of ease creeps into my awareness as I realise that myself and the other person are having different conversations. In part I wonder if we as creatures go through the world with blinkers on, only able to see life through our own unique set of experiences as reference. consequently the only truth that must then exist is the one that makes most sense based on our OWN experiences. And no other possibility… is possible.
This sense of unease creeps into many interactions throughout a given day. You swap pleasantries, you chat about what you did on the weekend, you might even express an opinion about a current event. At the moment you express an opinion there is space for an interesting conversation to occur. Curiosity and excitement well up ever so briefly at the possibility that you might learn something new, be presented with a different perspective or even simply generate questions which are then pondered and examined causing a mutual illumination of a previously unconsidered element of natural existence/human nature/a solution to a massively grotesque societal problem. This is the realm where creativity thrives, where seed thoughts that lead to real change come into being. This is a wonderful space to explore with an adventurers heart… and sadly many of us turn our back on the opportunity to play at this frontier.
It is much easier and efficient to throw down an opposing opinion and conversation closed. Or to make a statement that “shrugs” and essentially accepts what is known is all there is. We quiet each other with our generalisations and our beliefs that change is not possible and we continue on with topics well within our comfort zone, like what we did yesterday. We are very good at discouraging exploration of thought. But why? This I do not understand.
Is it this way because change seems like a distant thing, brought about by people far removed from ourselves. Is it because bad things happen, led by policy makers or high powered people in other countries and we can’t see how from our unempowered position we can make a difference? Are we simply overwhelmed? Are our lives just not uncomfortable enough to seek change? Do we lack the space in our lives to let hope and joy play in our imaginations of what is possible? When bad things happen to “someone else” and never touch our lives directly, how are we able empathise or expected to entertain thoughts of societal circumstances being other than they are?
I wonder what our world would be like if we all dared to be adventurers of thought. I am not suggesting that we all go out and study philosophy, although that could be fun. But what kinds of decisions would our community make if everyone took a moment to think through why so many kids hang out in shopping malls, or where commercial food waste goes, or if we took a moment to wonder why that person (our child, lover, a stranger on the street) just acted in that odd way. What would happen if instead of smacking each other down with our opinions about politics, we talked about what the problems are and generated some interesting discussion about solutions. What would happen if we saw a differing opinion as a source for generating thought rather than a threat?
What are the costs of not having these types of conversations?
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” Nelson Mandela