“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.”― Miles Kington
Life is made up of many situations, it is within these situations in which we position ourselves in the world. Often, our situations reveal truths about us, about others, and about life. A human being has been given the gift of conscious thought, but with consciousness comes distortion.
We have evolved to only use what we need, we are very efficient, so we have become masters at zeroing in on targets with our eyes and hearing only what we need to in order to move through the world in accordance with maslow’s hierarchy of human needs. In the depths of our evolution, we developed the ability to see bright colours to recognize food and danger. Through countless ancient documents, we have uncovered that humans battled snakes, mostly of which were bright in colour, they were our biggest foe. Fruit was almost always bright in colour in contrast to its inedible vegetation counterparts. Our ability to be focused on an important, complex task and block out distractions is an important ability that has been a necessity for human kind to raise to the level that we’ve gotten to today. This purposeful nature is what drives our human behaviour and our reactions. To juxtapose another fact: our human history is recorded on the selective memory of the very human beings it attempts to explain, memories that in fact become distorted and swayed via emotional bias, before events, during events, and after events have concluded. As tolstoy explains,
“The more we try to explain such events in history reasonably, the more unreasonable and incomprehensible do they become to us.”
If we observe our individual history, our situations become our personal accounts of our past. Our history is whatever we have naturally selected to pay attention to and recount in that moment. It is a sum of realities. the realization that we choose to focus on certain events and repress others is a difficult one. This means that individually we choose to remember events and situations in the manner that we are accustomed to. Which explains why two individuals can experience the same situation and walk away with two completely different accounts of it, both equally convinced that their views are the correct ones. But we don’t realize there is so much we both cannot see.
This phenomenon is what makes us effective, the ability to be able to consciously focus on a task at hand and problem solve is what makes us human. When you watch an incredible athlete, a brilliant painter, a book where the words jump out of the page and reach into your soul, we are observing those that have full control of their situations in a focused manner. Imagine that Micheal Jordan was focused on learning every fan’s name and where they came from, or the concession profits, if he knew everything about everything inside of the arena. He would not be as good of a basketball player and he would, most likely, become very frustrated within the daunting task of trying to remember every detail outside of what is beneficial to him and his team in their ultimate goal of winning.
The simple awareness to our natural human ignorance is a large part of keeping an open mind and ultimately having empathy towards others. We share this earth with almost 8 billion people, it is a highly beneficial viewpoint, that there are things we can learn from others, that there are things we cannot see, that there are other beneficial perspectives. It is so easy to become absorbed in conditioned thinking, listening to similar podcasts, reading similar news articles, and following similar social media pages. We become drawn further and further into our own biases and slowly our thinking becomes more pin pointed, our emotions more hostile to anything opposing our information bubble. It’s comfortable in the bubble, our system is built this way, but our mental health parallels our physical health. What is comfortable is usually the wrong direction and the more momentum we build this way the harder it is to reverse.
We cannot see the unseen, but a start is to recognize that there are things we do not see. In turn, If we can take control where it matters to us and direct our focus in our situations, our life situations do not have to change for us to have a better attitude and behaviours within certain events.