How do we see the world? The ties between us, the meaning of things, the feelings and attitudes we’re extending toward one another and the very act of existence can be such a mystery at times. We’re here, with our thoughts and the ability to communicate them, yet how clear are we on the “what we’re doing and why” of life?
I suppose in our thoughts we relate ourselves to the world around us? Very quickly, we begin piecing together what things mean and how to interact with them – people, animals, nature, words, stories, environments. We’re looking at the world, testing the boundaries, and deciding how we’re going to live in relation to it all (Notes One). It’s the stuff of youth, of education and of culture.
Through our words and gestures, we’re surely conveying these fundamental ideas we have about life: the value of others, ways we might act, and what’s acceptable in terms of kindness. How we are in the world is, in a way, a picture of all we’ve learnt to believe about it. Our understanding is perhaps this frame through which we interpret and respond to things.
So, what is that meaning? What ideas do we have about how things should be and how we might best respond to help shape things in healthy and constructive ways? I mean, if our choices – our words, gestures and actions – impact the realities around us, then how we’re responding must forever be reshaping our social world, in particular. How are we using this power we all have? The power to affirm or negate.
It seems that, in looking at things, we have the choice to recognise or ignore whatever it might be. As if the whole of our world passes before us while we’re choosing which things we like, want, appreciate or understand. Each person, effectively, being this point of acceptance or rejection as we’re making our way through life.
Which is just interesting: that we change the world through our responses. And, clearly, we all have many ideas in mind as to “how things should be”. We’re pretty well-trained in the arts of judgement, criticism, labelling, diagnosis and advice – perpetually deconstructing and setting things straight within the confines of our own mind (Notes Two).
Do we, then, go through life evaluating other people? Choosing only to reflect that which we know enough to appreciate, affirm or accept (Notes Three). Like selective mirrors, only responding with recognition to that which we personally want to create. Of course, that would mean we’re limited by our own understanding: only reflecting what we already know.
It’s a train of thought that’s reminding me of Goethe’s ideas around meeting people, “when we treat him as if he already were what he potentially could be, we make him what he should be”. Written in quite different times, it’s still raising this question of social conditioning – how well are we understanding reality, potential, and what we can hope to achieve by way of our responses?
Notes and References:
Note 1: Complication of being human
Note 1: Knowledge, capacity & understanding
Note 1: Culture as what we relate to
Note 1: The struggle with being alive
Note 1: What you’re left with
Note 2: Pick a side, any side
Note 2: What are our moral judgements?
Note 2: Do we know what stands before us?
Note 3: Mirrors we offer one another
Note 3: Conversation as revelation
Note 3: Seeing, knowing and loving
Note 3: Invisible ties
Note 3: Humans, judgement & shutting down
Somewhat related to all this is Doing the right thing, we erase consequences.