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Culture, thought & coexistence

In life, what are we supposed to think? It must be this basic step behind existing as thinking beings: that we have a certain set of ideas in mind against which we’ll interpret all we come across. Like a lens or backdrop of unquestionable thoughts which colour everything we see and how we will see it. This underpinning language we speak that ensures we’re all, more or less, on the same page.

What is that worldview? It must be that many of us, especially now, are walking around with quite different ideas in mind – looking out at the world differently and responding to it in different ways. As if we’re all starting to speak an increasingly personal language; perhaps struggling to relate to those operating from slightly or dramatically different perspectives. Isn’t it all about communication?

If culture’s a language – a broadly accepted and agreed upon set of ideas and their meaning – how can we now talk to others? Sometimes it must seem we’re simply in different worlds, seeing different things and drawing them together into quite a different sense of what’s going on and what matters most. This disconcerting feeling that we each have somewhat different realities within our heads.

Looking to the past, it seems convention once gave societies much simpler, more controlled versions of events: accepted narratives that may have served to unite people in one, broadly coherent conversation. As if, stuck on the railroads of established thinking, we could at least move forward together. Limitation or control perhaps giving strength and direction to whatever path we were walking.

Not to say we might be better going back to that; but where do we go next? In place of certainty, it seems we now have doubt and argument: all struggling to have our version heard and, hopefully, accepted. As if “meaning” is now built from the consensus of he who shouts loudest or crafts the most powerful case.

What happens to society if we all go our own way? As if the contents of our thinking don’t shape the reality we share. Won’t we fall out of step with one another? Perhaps ignoring those we can no longer speak with so easily; imagining that fear of rejection might coerce them to give up their own ideas and join us. Culture, then, as a battleground carving us all up into new tribes by our thinking.

Aren’t our ideas a frame for understanding the past and approaching the future? The story we accept and make our foundation – an overarching backdrop into which everything else must fit. How’s that to work if we’re all choosing our own perspective? Globally or personally, are we ever right to push our take on events over that of others? In many ways, it seems such a recipe for conflict.

Given we share space, within which our ideas bear consequences, what kind of conversation is this to be? Within our own heads or between us, the ways we approach reality must carry quite considerable weight.

Notes and References:

Seeing what things mean
Threads, becoming a united whole
Living through the changes
Somewhere between ideals & realities
Channels of information
Being conscious of our constructions
Can each be true to themselves?
The thinking behind technology
Deepening understanding
Life as adjustments in meaning

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