It’s been a few weeks of a lot of work and interesting interactions with a wide range of people. This is in itself not unusual. But the specific depth of some of these interactions is.
It’s not often that you get into the deep murky stuff that makes up our identities with people you have only just met. It’s also not that often that you sit with really creative people who suddenly realise that problem solving is in fact a creative act.
I am often lately reminded of Thomas Metzinger’s writings and his contention that all of our conscious awareness of what happens in the physical world is an after-the-fact commentary. A running commentary that includes and excludes things apparently randomly and at will. But of course there’s nothing random about it. The process obeys a neat hierarchy of habits, needs and wants that have already been established.
Whether Metzinger is 100% correct or not matters not really. What is interesting is that this is a scientific view on the idea that we literally create our own word and our own world experiences according to how we think or ‘feel’ about them. This is an added dimension to the notion that we are truly and specifically creative beings rather than deductive automatons.
It is our tendency towards habits and patterns that makes us robotic, not our nature itself, which is highly picky, endlessly adaptable and quite capable of just ignoring what is obvious to others in order to support a pre-existing point of view.
The current deeply polarised world we live in, this is a realisation I bump into every day. When I read about Trump, Brexit, #FeesMustFall, IS, Israel or any of the other major political touch points I see people creatively ignoring points of view, facts and stories that don’t agree with their pre-existing judgements. In fact, I catch myself doing it as well… I need also to be wary of my programmed reactions to issues involving race and privilege.
I can’t help but wonder: if we were all a bit more aware of how selective our experiences of the physical world and its happenings actually is, would we be more suspicious of these patterns? Or would we rely on them more heavily?
The suspicion of the ‘other’ and the ‘unknown’ is a deeply, biologically ingrained response in humans. When we were living in caves, at the mercy of the elements and could not communicate effectively, it was an instinct that kept us alive. But now, you’ve got to ask yourself, in a species where any racial, tribal or national grouping treats 50% of the population from their own grouping as second class citizens how can it ever be hoped that we can treat representatives of another culture/religion/culture/worldview/nationality with any respect?
Let me be clear, until we break the pattern of assumed male dominance, can we hope to break free from the rest of the intolerance that currently has our planet in its grip? It’s time we all got a bit more creative about how we see the world. Realise that, trapped inside our skulls and dependent on unreliable senses that are poorly equipped to deal with the broader range of stimuli out there, we have made some bad selections.
We have told a limited, flawed and oppressive story about the reality we experience.
We need to re-write that story and break free of that pattern or I fear we will indeed annihilate ourselves.