Maybe I have waited too long to start writing about all of this, because I just feel like I have SO much to share at once that I don’t know in what order I should bring up a lot of this stuff!! I guess I just need to plug away, and I’ll eventually catch up… right? 🙂
One of my favorite movie series of all time is The Matrix series; not just because of the awesome action (f0rmidable in itself), but because if you extract many of the philosophies presented as quippy quotes through the three movies, they’re actually pretty thought-provoking in terms of ourselves… and many reflect philosophies I’ve felt were simply intuitive, and have always rang true with me.
One in particular: That reality is based on individual perception.
Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends; it is only yourself.
I remember at some point in the distant past – possibly Physics (in college) and/or Astronomy (in high school) – when we talked about matter and density and how our terminology and reference was based on a matter of perception.
The conversation was based around the density of matter on our planet; depending on different situations, how on other planets in other galaxies, density could be exponentially higher or exponentially lower – meaning that to a living being from a planet with a much higher density, we’d be almost ethereal or disjointed, and vice versa in the opposite situation.
A simple, contemporary example the teacher/professor gave (please spare me the details I miss here, it’s the big idea I’m explaining) was Superman. Krypton had a much higher density and gravity levels than earth. Therefore, to us, he would seem virtually invincible – only because his body was built for Krypton, and he lived here on Earth. Since our “solids” are much less dense than the “solids” on Krypton, he could easily break, push, or see through objects we couldn’t. Same thing with “flying” – similar to when humans visit the moon – because of the gravitational differences. Think about it!
I remember it was that discussion that really made me think about the fact that reality is actually based on perception. And, in essence, reality could easily be different – or change – from different perspectives.
In a completely different course in college, I had an awesome History professor who based what he taught on the same premise. On the first day of class, he wrote the word history on the board and asked us what was significant to us about the word.
After a few guesses, one student nailed it – the word breaks down to “his story”... which led the professor off into an explanation on how the basics of history that we learn in school here in the United States today is actually told mainly from the perspective of the Anglo-Saxon male, and that many parts of what we’ve learned since Day 1 in school were actually biased from that perspective – a good part of what we’d learned to date was actually the Anglo-Saxon male’s story through the centuries.
I was never hot on history classes – but I loved the two semesters of history I took with that professor! He did his best to talk about what happened more from the perspective of the non-Anglo-Saxon male… and I started seeing things from a completely new perspective.
Both of these examples changed my reality, and my perception of it.
At some point, I realized I was seeing the same pattern throughout all aspects of life. As I’ve worked in marketing and communications for more than 20 years now, I know I quickly learned about the power of communication, and how sometimes even changing just one word – especially if it’s the right word – can alter the entire belief about a topic, person, or civilization.
See how I just did that, right there? I changed the original word I intended to use – perception – and used belief instead. Do they mean the same thing? Not exactly; they’re actually not synonyms! However, they’re very close, because individual perceptions tend to influence personal beliefs. And it was very subtle, but I’ve now shifted your thinking from the topic of perceptions to the topic of beliefs.
The media does it all the time – sadly, more and more so every day. I find it pretty pathetic that the exact same news story could be told by two different TV networks, and you’d never know it was the same thing because of the way the story was told – and the personal/network bias that gets inserted into the telling. The absolutely worst area for this is politics and news from the world level (which is why I absolutely love Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show on the Comedy Channel, because Jon not only pokes fun at this, but he actually shows the inconsistencies daily by playing clips on a given subject across networks, politicians, and/or any other aspect of the news. Funny; in 2009, when Americans were polled as to who they felt was the most trusted news source in America, the answer was a resounding Jon Stewart!).
Isn’t that what essentially dictates everyone’s story? Governments do it all the time (I know it’s a shocker to you, but that includes the United States, as well) to keep things under control, and/or to keep control of its consistuents, depending on how you look at it. Good grief; in my experience in large corporate over the years (and typically being a managing part of the messaging being conveyed by companies – or at least privvy to it), I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen public “reality” created because of a desired attribute, perception, or belief. There were times when it was harmless; however, there were times when I thought it was ridiculous that there would be information withheld or skewed just to manipulate perception and beliefs. Yet I was bound by my job and the umpteen amount of forms I had to sign when I’d been hired by the company that prevented me from saying anything to anyone outside of the “inner circle” at the company. It’s the main reason why I got fed up with all of it and left the corporate world in early 2006.
I’ll bet that the firm establishment of my early thought process on all of this had to do with my day in, day out involvement with the “creation” or perceptions, beliefs, and realities in corporate America. Often, people don’t understand what I mean when I tell them that a true marketing professional is really a psychologist – but due to this topic alone, can you see why by what I’m saying?
I promise you, there’s not one industry or government out there that doesn’t do this. And OK, and now I’m going to plow right into the murky waters, so hold on – nor is there one organized religion out there that doesn’t do this, either.
I always cringe when someone cites from their Bible or other religious book, and I’m almost blantantly intolerant of people who rationalize their judgments and/or prejudice by quoting something from it that fits their momentary needs. Why? Here’s my simple point of reference: the Telephone game.
Have you ever played Telephone? To explain it briefly, a bunch of people sit in a circle, and the first person says something in the ear of the person sitting to one side of them. Then, that person passes it on the same way to the next, and so on, until it reaches the last person, who speaks what they were told to the group.
Whether it’s 3 people or 30, it’s never exactly the same statement as what the first person said. In fact, more often than not, it’s a completely different statement altogether!
Now, keeping that in mind, think about the Bible and its history. The Bible, in itself, is a series of “Books” that have been compiled to tell a story about the Word of God. These books were originally communicated by different people in different cultures, with different languages, in different generations. Most were communicated well before there was any formal process to mass produce the written word – and before many of the “commonfolk” could actually read. So often, the stories were passed down via verbal communications for sometimes generations and across cultures before written down and/or passed on in a formal, mass sense; and by that time, there was typically no way for an editor to go back and “fact check” what was written.
Oh, wait, and let me also not forget another very important, salient point – that due to the need for certain sociopolitical controls of the time – and due to the need for those in power to stick with “mainstreaming” to retain control, there were many Books that were deleted. Though some cite 7, when the Catholic Church first got together to create a formal Church Bible, they supposedly weeded through more than 1,000 spiritual writings to create the 46-book Bible that became THE Christian book. Then later, the Protestants pulled out more… back and forth, back and forth.
So, at the end of the day – to quote yet another movie – I’ve always looked at it a lot like the Pirate’s Code is described in Pirates of the Caribbean – “… for it’s more of what you call guidelines than actual rules...”
Or ideals/guides vs. actual details/quotations.