Birch foliage caught by the wind

The battlegrounds of our minds

As humans, how do we stand in the world? Isn’t the essence of “us”, at least a significant part of it, that we reflect the world in thought? That, of all the creatures, we see things with our minds, put those observations into words and share those thoughts with others. Being human being, perhaps, this idea of converting experience into thought and seeing what we make of it all.

Don’t we almost “live” in our minds? Identifying with those processes of observation, reflection and the naming of things. Living our lives through whatever narrative we spin or inherit from the world around us, so many of our choices in life effectively being formed by whatever ideas we have in mind and paths they lead us to tread. Don’t almost all of our actions stem from the world of our thoughts? (Notes One)

The meaning we assign to things seems, in a way, the meaning we bring to life through our response: our assumptions or evaluations becoming “real” through the fact we voice them, act upon them or let them inform our unspoken beliefs. Isn’t “the mind” where we form such views? Where we’re weighing things up and deciding. Where the steps we’ll take in life are determined.

If we’re all acting on our thoughts, they must matter. Each seemingly insignificant idea inevitably rippling out from us to become potentially quite significant realities for the world. Doesn’t every choice matter? Every action becoming a reality in someone’s life or a cumulative pattern shifting things in certain directions through the subtle reinforcement of our involvement. (Notes Two)

Perhaps, then, it’s only natural we experience such conflict in the world of ideas? If “what we think” has the power to change the realities around us, our minds seem the focal point for many important battles. Of all that’s going on in life, the idea of getting people to see – and, care about – the consequences of their choices, beliefs or actions may be the only real option we have for creating a better future.

What’s it like, though, living in that mental space? Not only the fairly insistent and overwhelming contents of our own minds as we attempt to chart our course within an imperfect world, but also this strangely aggressive collective conversation we’re all now immersed in. Almost like this pooled thought process of “everyone” trying to describe their concerns and iron out all the differences.

Sometimes it seems we’re all just fighting to have our thoughts heard; struggling to make space for anyone else’s (Notes Three). Everyone caring deeply about whatever “life” placed at their feet, we rightly want others to see those problems and help fix them. With our selves so tied up with our lives and our thoughts about them, it seems likely all of this quickly becomes personal – each person’s sense of self or worth on the line.

Standing within flawed human realities and attempting to agree what to do about it seems, in many ways, far from easy.

Notes and References:

Note 1: The philosopher stance
Note 1: Problems & the thought that created them
Note 1: How quickly things can change
Note 1: Power in what we believe
Note 2: The incredible responsibility of freedom
Note 2: All we concern ourselves with & encourage
Note 2: Whether we make a difference
Note 2: What we create by our presence
Note 2: Losing the sense of meaning
Note 3: The thought surrounding us
Note 3: Is there any end to the power of thought?
Note 3: Desire to retreat, need to engage
Note 3: Do we live in different worlds?

Thinking more of the attempt to communicate, there’s What is the public conversation?

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