How Many Different Ways are there to See the World?

This question came to me the other day and the more I consider it, the more joy and hope I feel for humanity. Back up, allow me to explain.

There are a few things we run into on this planet that are constant, fixed, measurable, do not fluctuate based on time or conditions, at least in our normal earthly existence. Examples of these sorts of objective truths that affect us every day are the force of gravity, the marking of time associated with the rotation of the earth and the time-based seasonal variation of day/ night hours on a given spot on the earth. These are things we don’t need to sit around and discuss or debate about because they are not controversial, generally speaking.

But then there are all the other things we deal with on a daily basis like work and family, how we allocate time, philosophies, politics, ways of being, etc, all of which matter greatly in what opportunities you are afforded in life. This is where and how each person essentially creates their view of the world from scratch, starting at birth and taking in information and experiences their whole life, modifying, tweaking and revising until they move on to the next realm.

Now if each person has their own series of experiences, starting with first consciousness, what family life was like and how in changed over time, formative experiences in school or with siblings, and so on, each person has AT LEAST an opportunity to change their way of viewing the world every day. Now I don’t recommend flipping all your prior moral positions on their heads tomorrow, but if you are lucky, you can choose to go through life NOT closing yourself off to the possibility that you might encounter something today that will change your mind about something you thought you knew for certain yesterday.

Those are my favorite days.

I LOVE to be proven wrong! I try to live my life like a science experiment where everything I believe to be true is only “true” because it hasn’t yet been proven false. Everything I believe to be true is based on my personal suite of life experiences and I GUARANTEE that someone with vastly different experiences than me would absolutely have different thoughts about and ways to see the world. I consider myself blessed to have found ways to draw those people to me so that I may learn from their different ways of seeing the world.

I am a truth-seeker and the more I seek, the easier it is for me to say that the only truth that exists is that which can incorporate ALL different views of the world. Until all views can be accounted for, which I realize is an impossibility in any real practical sense, there is inevitably going to be someone new out there who shows us that they see things differently and we need to adjust to account for that.

Just look at what young people have been able to accomplish in the political/activism space? 10-15 years ago, the only people talking about actually taking real action on climate change were wonky groups of internationally based scientists. And during the first half of Biden’s first term, an actual piece of bipartisan legislation passed the House and the Senate and was signed into law. Similarly on gun control. Are either of these bills perfect? Of course not, but I’ll take 25% of perfect over continued congressional dysfunction any day.

The only way these things actually happened was because of public pressure, much from organizations built by children and teenagers, based on their experiences with climate-based natural disasters and school shootings. Their perspectives were, are, and will continue to be a force for radical change moving forward across the entire world.

And no amount of book banning, AP course cancelation or rhetoric that mistakes education for indoctrination will prevent this. What is standing in the way, though, is our inability to question our own assumptions about what to expect from our children and what we believe they are capable of. When we use the process of raising children as solely a protective exercise, as though you have created a box for your child to grow up in, you are ALMOST INEVITABLY limiting who and what that child will become in the future. If a child’s experience is built upon the safety and security of a box, even if the box expanded over time, they will not be able to stretch in the ways that you never thought to include in the box when you made it. The box is your experience and you impose that on your child.

We need our children to take an active role and responsibility for their own education and, in order to do this, we must find the subject or activity or conditions that really get them excited about learning and proud of themselves for putting in the hard work. Respecting a child’s perspective in a family is a vital part of the parents’ continued growth and perspective change as well. If you are not learning from your kids, you are absolutely missing out. Kids see the world in magical ways and it would really do us all good to try to see the world from their perspective more often.

And we’ve only been talking about ways humans see the world… I will have you know that I often spend time thinking about how my dog sees the world, especially when I know for a fact she needs to go out and do her business, but when we let her out, she prefers to scout the perimeter of the yard checking for any rodent incursions and then run back inside, only to ask to be let out again 10-15 minutes later. It’s this fun game we play. Imagine being so compelled by a thing that you realize you need to pee, walk into the bathroom and then forget to pee and do the compulsion thing instead; repeat 3-4x.

I would even go so far as to say all animals, plants, trees, fungi, bacteria, viruses, and even minerals, rocks, etc have a way to “see” or experience the world. We may not think a volcano or a weather system is sentient, but they are acting and reacting to natural forces within their environments. Volcanos “move” as tectonic plates shift over time, granted it’s a time scale we can’t really fathom, as humans. Time and natural forces do affect us as well, just in a very different scale. So could you think about looking at the world from the perspective of a volcano? Why not? This is what humans invented art for. To represent and interpret concepts that are outside of our normal realm of understanding.

And this is why we fight so much about art. What is it? What is it not? Why should we pay for it? What does it mean? Does it have any value? Art is that which is created, anything really, by someone to offer their interpretation of a way of looking at the world, either communicating their own or an experiment in perspective-taking of another. And the people who dislike or don’t appreciate art are those who prefer boxes, containment, artificial restrictions in which only certain worldviews are valid or acceptable.

So how do I conclude this strange and meandering post? With some words of advice, that I absolutely cannot make you take; rather, I invite you to explore.

  • Live your life like a science experiment; try to prove yourself wrong about something every day.
  • Treat all human beings, all living beings, or even weather systems and natural geographical features, with respect. Listen to them when they share their perspective with you and expand your version of what is true.
  • Know that you cannot limit what your children can do or the information they can learn or the experiences they can have forever. By attempting to impose limits, you create a very different experience for them that will define their future experiences in unpredictable ways, either pushing them toward or away from the topic in ways that they did not choose themselves.
  • Everyone should prioritize time to create art. Writing, painting, singing, dancing, movement, etc are all forms of art, when done with intention. Accuracy and precision cease to be important compared to baring what is in your soul, however it comes out.

I wish all readers a happy day. There are infinite ways to see and experience the world. Now go make some art and prove yourself wrong about something today. Change how you see the world.

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