When it comes to human experience, we clearly all live through things differently: youth, place of birth, social realities, economic conditions, relationships, ideas, and struggles. Our own personal self, our unique make up and outlook, seemingly arises out of all these things. There may be commonalities, but essentially we live and make sense of it in our own ways.
And even when we have quite a lot in common, many shared ideas, it can still be incredibly difficult to relate and understand one another. Perhaps it’s almost easier to get along with those you have less in common with, as differences are more apparent and disagreements less close to home. Maybe when we live along the same lines but draw different conclusions that’s more confronting.
In a way though, we all experience the same complex reality. Especially now so much of how we live is global in reach and consequence (see Note One). Many of the reference points we now share to some degree affect us all: the impacts of current economic systems, the social concerns arising from modern culture, the vast and often troubling conversations spanning the internet.
So, maybe obviously, we have these pooled experiences of being human and also of being human in these times. We all have to relate ourselves to those realities – life, death, injustice, obstacles – and also find a way to relate to each other.
Which I find fascinating because it’s almost like we all have these pieces of the same puzzle: living within shared realities, our experiences of them shaped our lives, bringing us to a very real understanding of the impacts of how we are living. Human and systemic flaws ‘come to life’ through our experiences and we can give voice to them.
But that’s not going to be an easy conversation. Wounded or disadvantaged people have every right to feel the frustration, pain and injustice of that. And advantaged people might well feel attacked and held to account for things the system itself facilitated or sheltered. We very clearly don’t live in a perfect world, however well-intentioned, so there are undoubtedly many difficulties to be worked through.
Communication and identity are complex, important realities (Notes Two), as our subjective experiences mix in with those of others and society at large. Dealing with that, making space for one another, handling volatile emotions and painful realities, accepting mistakes and situations that possibly cannot be rectified, and finding a way out of it all is surely incredibly challenging.
It’s something touched upon within the themes of Communication and Change, and it’s really not easy to write about or imagine a solution to. Modern life has given us all a voice, and many of those voices and the ensuing conversations are problematic, difficult to resolve, and broaching new territory in terms of our capacity to relate.
Finding ways to respect and acknowledge personal experiences within our complex, fractured realities while also constructively reworking what sorely needs improving seems an almost beautiful challenge for our times.
Notes and References:
Note 1: Globalised society finding its feet
Note 2: Things we can’t talk about
Note 2: Mirrors we offer one another
Note 2: Listening, tolerance & communication
Note 2: “People Skills”
Note 2: Literature where West meets East
Note 2: Podcasts as models of transformation