Some days, I feel stuck behind one way glass. Watching the world tear itself apart, determined to prove how right and absolute how things are, despite how young, naive, and short lived even our oldest citizens are. We are merely a blip yet act as if we know it all.
Education has seemed to have created a world where people develop stronger weapons and shields to reinforce their dogmas, beliefs and attitudes rather than inspire less arrogance, better questions, more empathy, and better listening. It’s created a culture of answers instead of questions.
Social media has helped reinforce the vicious cycle that sees the actual reality of what happened being incessantly twisted, screwed, and reformed to validate whatever belief we choose to enable and perpetuate.
For all the declarations about ‘stupid people’, they are really no different from their accusers – all people simply living their version of the truth and what they think is necessary to do in order to feel fulfilled, even if it’s evidently detrimental.
In my experience, I have personally found that the most difficult demographic to navigate isn’t actually the simpleton but the moderately to highly educated.
With their finely crafted narratives, superior debating/language skills, hyper-logical idealism, and charismatic delivery, they are at risk of being the most blind and inflexible. I have been one of them for a long time until recently when the penny dropped.
To a highly educated person, the concept that ‘fact, truth and reality’ is simply a matter of perspective and not a binary result, is simply inconceivable because they are blind as to how it could be any other way.
Anything that cannot be tested or proven with data (as if it’s objective!) is immediately an assault on the concept of fact and truth. It’s no different from the very type of person they claim doesn’t ‘get it’. It’s simply the yin to the yang. That’s why John Oliver’s skit laughing at Newt Gingrich on CNN was so difficult to watch. I understand the premise of what John was trying to say, but he in turn trivialised Newt’s point as if he was delusional and wrong and we should think of him as crazy.
Yet in that situation, I believe Newt has profound insight as to how people work, regardless of whether it was conscious or intentional.
A highly educated person tends to have much more invested (literally) into their identity when it comes to facts, evidence, information gathering skills. Therefore, it is too hard to not use, to keep at bay, or to consider as flawed or incomplete. It’s a predictable weapon and they know they won’t be challenged when facing another who lack those skills. At least not intellectually.
You only have to watch a video where some Late Show tries to ‘prove’ how stupid people are by asking them questions to trip people up. We get to laugh and feel superior but in our intellectual arrogance fail to realise how we are also complicit in widening the divide. We celebrate making others wrong and then wonder why they lash out when they run out of tools/skill to defend themselves.
To see someone stand there and tell me adamantly that they are open minded but ‘facts are facts’, ‘there is only one truth’, and they just happen to know it while everyone else doesn’t get it, is perhaps the cruelest of ironies to experience. Someone with all that potential to actually be an agent of change instead turns out to be a statue – fixed and unable to listen. A deep filing cabinet of information that yields no influence.
As much as I admire the hyper logical method that lives in much of our advanced communities, it continues to cause me great pain that it comes adjoined with an incredible lack of emotional intelligence, and understanding of the human condition. I’m not pitting one against the other, but suggesting that they are a package deal.
Yes, there is the actual reality of what happened. Then there is the story, characters, meaning, and feelings about what happened, and why it happened. That is where everyone – even you and me – live.
Citing facts and data is no different to yelling caloric data to someone who is overweight eating ice cream. It might create temporary shock and awe or even a fight, but our society is failing to recognise that weight isn’t lost through exercise, data and diet alone, but the psychology and emotionality of what one believes.
People gotta choose to want it first, and I haven’t yet met a single person who likes to have their choices made for them.