Thursday, February 16, 2017

We don't all live in the same reality.

It's been a few days since I last posted, mostly because I've worked a lot of overtime at the hospital to get over a slight money hill. I've built up a little lineup of things to talk about over the next week or so, but for now, just a random thought:

When people wonder aloud (and to themselves) about what makes people do the things they do, good or bad but mostly bad, or at least something we perceive as being bad, it's hard for them to wrap their head around it. It's always hard for us to understand why people do the things they do, like "protestors" throwing bricks at passers by, or middle eastern migrants burning the city of Paris, or a murderer killing an innocent hospital employee just to take her car, or even less violent things like why people vote the way they do in elections or why they choose to carry or NOT to carry a firearm, or why they choose to or NOT to prepare for unknown disasters, or any of the other things we observe people doing that we find to be confusing. My theory is that we have this difficulty because we are trying to make sense of it using only the way that we ourselves have learned to make our way through the world.

I recently had a little debate at work with a physician that I very much enjoy and appreciate working with. His views on immigration (legal and illegal) were mostly opposed to mine, but during this debate our backgrounds and upbringings were also discussed. It became clear to me that we had both taken VERY different paths to get to the same basic place in our lives and that those background have placed us living in the same physical world, but two vastly different perceptions of reality, right and wrong, law and order, rights vs privileges, even our view of historical fact was perceived differently. In this case, he and I simply don't live in the same reality. That's not to imply that there was anything inherently wrong with what either of us thought or said. It's simply an acknowledgment of the fact that we could be looking at the same picture and see two different images, and this is due to the events of our lives that shaped our perception of literally almost everything around us.

When you are able to unshackle your mind of the constraints that forced you to process the world through only your own filter, then you can at least understand why people think and do things so differently. You don't have to understand why they're doing it the way they are doing it. You just need to understand why they ARE NOT doing the way that YOU ARE.

I've heard it said that in decades like the 1970's or 1980's, you might hear one of the "elites", like a highly paid, tenured professor with multiple doctorates, make a disparaging remark about one of the lower class people doing a lower class job, like a garbage man. But today? Do you hear the same remark? Not as often. But why then and not so much today? Because in the past decades, that professor and that garbage man still had to do a lot of the same things in life to survive and get by. But today, that high level professor barely even knows the garbage man exists... They're unlikely to cross paths or have any similarities in background or futures.

It's simply because we don't all live in the same reality anymore. A white, male, 38 year old farmer in Central Texas doesn't live in the same world as the Asian, female, 22 year old art history major in Seattle, or the black, male 45 year old Army veteran in Southern Georgia, or the Hispanic, female, 57 year old nurse in New York City.

Once you wrap your brain around the fact that we no longer live in the same reality, it's much easier to understand why things happen the way they do.

Thanks for reading. Maybe some of that made enough sense to you.


  1. I don't mind that others have a different view of the world, but it's when they display blatant hypocrisy or work to enforce their perceived reality upon ME is where I have a problem. Don't tell me you believe in uncontrolled immigration if you lock your home's doors at night and when you are away. Don't tell me that your fear or dislike of firearms trumps MY right to own and use them for self defense. Don't tell my that MY thoughts and views are hate speech but yours are free speech.
    I could go on and on, but my head would eventually explode exposing the alternate realities that some others embrace and the complete blindness they display when the light of logic and common sense is shined upon them.
    Unfortunately, there is a conflict coming: a very violent and nasty conflict. Matter cannot survive with antimatter.

  2. There are many examples of people projecting their expectations onto society, but choosing not to live their own lives according to the same expectations.

    People will support and vote for higher taxes on others while pouring over their own taxes and cheering their own tax breaks and refunds. They encourage open immigration of third worlders, but they do so from a position of never needing to have contact with any of them. They rail against guns while owning them for their own home protection.

    But they live in a reality that does not require logical or sense.

  3. There is only ONE reality. You live in it. I live in it. Whether or not we perceive it accurately, it what matters. Do not mistake perception for reality.

    1. While this is literally true, it's easily understood to be irrelevant. Perception shapes reaction and response. If someone perceives reality in their own way and acts accordingly, then it doesn't really matter much if they perceived reality correctly or not. The deed will have been done, regardless.

      For example, the rioters in Baltimore perceived that they had been wronged, even though (I believe) they had not been. That didn't change their response, and the neighborhood burned anyway.