We are perpetually on the inside of our own being, looking out. Each experience we have—from the mundane to the extraordinary, from the youngest age on—shapes who we are, and who we will become. Each opinion or belief, seen as “truths” first from the mouths of our parents, and later from the mouths of our peers, molds our thinking, creates a foundation of our own morals and beliefs. As some point, those beliefs are so embedded and so intrinsic, that we no longer question or test them. They are, quite simply, the TRUTH.
Yet, those years of experience and perspective have created an intricate filtering system within each of us that interprets the world around us. It is stunning to realize how much of our experiences as we grow older are based on interpretation rather than on fact. The question is, is this a good thing or a bad thing?
In some ways it is very good. We know who we are, and our loved ones do as well. It is helpful not to have to question or re-interpret everything that happens in your daily life. Rather, to use past experiences and beliefs to categorize and make decisions. Our brains are kind of like the law: case law can help expand our understandings and bring in new points of view and clarification, but our “Constitution” was laid down by our Founding Fathers and Mothers and it doesn’t change very much.
On the other hand, our inner Constitution was set in print based on experience and interpretation, and could have some very serious flaws. Certainly, mine did, with my total belief in my own inferiority. Additionally, each of our lives is one or two facets of a complex, multi-faceted diamond. Would my perspective be the same if I had grown up in Ethiopia, or Greenland, or Oregon? That diamond would have turned a bit; the facets that revealed themselves would have thrown light a different way. We are multi-dimensional human beings, but are often comforted by the one-dimensionality of our thinking.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why our country is now so polarized. We are unwilling to turn that diamond and to consider another aspect. We also see our own perspective, not as a belief system but as fact, as RIGHT. Sadly, some of us have taken that a step further to shape truth to what we want to believe or have rather than to the facts. They have rejected and rewritten their own inner Constitution.
This post is not meant to be political commentary, something I generally work to avoid. Rather, it is a clarification of how important our perspective is, and how slanted by that internal filter. I think it’s a good exercise for all of us to turn that diamond, to look at it in a different light, and see what new landscape we might discover. To uncover a new “case law in point” that allows our thinking to shift and broaden. This is a healthy thing to do—and perhaps it leads you back to your starting point and those same beliefs you have always held. Or, perhaps you will find those beliefs growing and changing with a richer understanding.
But, wouldn’t you like to see a different horizon from time to time? Wouldn’t you like to gain a new and richer understanding of this world and who we are within it, of our lives and our relationships? Of ourselves? Wouldn’t you like to have that diamond show us beauty and color in a way that is brand new to us?