Thursday, June 17, 2004

Reality. It's a Concept Thing, a Neurology Thing, a Quantum Thing

So many of us have asked the question or a variant on the question: How is it that so many people seem "not" to get what the Bush Misadministration, or Iraq, or Afghanistan or the War on Terra is all about? It's maddening.

I think I have one answer. I'm sure it's not the only answer, which is why I said "one". This thread requires reading without any of the gratification that comes from clicking on links. I've been percolating this in my brain for a few days, (always a bad sign) and have just now sat myself down to put it all into some kind of order.

The next stuff I'm quoting and paraphrasing comes from an out-of-print book by Sonia Johnson ... radical feminist, former candidate for President of the USA. From her book, "Wildfire".

I tell a story first, the one Sonia told, but one that others have told before she or I told it.

"Several hundred years ago, Magellan and his men sailed into a harbor in the Tierra del Fuego islands in their tall ships, put down their anchors, and rowed ashore in rowboats. A few days later, the shaman called islanders together and she said, "I'm going to tell you something preposterous, so get ready. Those men couldn't have come across all that open sea in the little boats they landed on our beach in. That means -- and this is the preposterous part -- that there have to be big big boats out there in the harbor." Everyone turned to look -- and got goose bumps; all they could see was the shimmering blue water. "Really?" they asked. "Really," she answered.

Do you ask how it is that the Tierra del Fuegans could not see the ships, with their white sails sparkling in the sun? The ships were so "real" after all.

But, they were not real to those who had no place for them in their world view. They could not see them because reality is what people expect to see in the "harbor". Reality is what we believe we will see when we look there, what we think is possible, what we have been told to believe is true, very strong, inevitable, unchangeable, irrevocable. Reality is what we are taught to think a god plunked down in front of us and we have no choice but to learn to live with the best we can. It is called "natural".

So then... reality is an internal construct, defined and controlled by the dominant group. It's in the moment we internalize the propaganda that "reality" comes to live in us. All of our other interactions with the "reality" come from that starting place.

This is one answer to why people cannot see how a smiling, glad-handing politician is not good for them, and their nation. The "not good" part of it all is simply not a part of their "reality". Which is of course why it is pointless to loudly argue politics with anyone.

In the end, we can only see something new if we create it within ourselves first. We must see, know, feel that there is another something better than what is presented to us as "reality". This is my answer to all those who reply ... well, we can't do anything about it. It is what it is. Get over it.

But, I'm not going to get over it. I've spent all of my life thinking of more than one kind of something better. I will not be a part of the blindness of those who cannot see the tall ships in the harbor, and what lies beyond. Again, going to-to-toe with someone on their cherished and endogenous notions on the "reality" of their political position is really an exercise in futility in the end. I try not to do it at all. Only events that are perspective and synapse jolting can change someone's firmly held worldview. And,... with irony, as my baby sister Shari would say... It is what it is.