Both Sides Are Real

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broken heartIf there were one truth that, if understood by all, could change the way we function in our world, what would it be? Upon reflection, it seems that a truth of Earth changing proportions is that there is not one true reality.

When I was much younger, I realized that most arguments were arguments about reality. Each person would assert the correctness of his position. Of course, if his view was correct, the opponent was incorrect. Those functioning at a more primitive mentality might physically fight it out. More evolved individuals might agree to disagree. Still, they would walk away from the discussion firmly convinced that the other was wrong.

Schooling perpetuates the right/wrong mentality. Mathematics is definitive. Writing in the answer that the teacher was looking for in other areas is not so definitive. Your answer could be perfectly correct in terms of your interpretation of the question. The mark at the top of the page always indicated how often you were wrong, and how often you were right. Sometimes you knew the right answer, but made a careless mistake. No matter. The report card grade reflected how well you conformed to teacher expectations. Unfortunately, this grade became associated in many minds, including our own, with intelligence. You could be vastly knowledgeable in areas outside of the curriculum, but that was not taken into consideration. No wonder being right assumed such importance.

For six hours every day throughout childhood and adolescence, young people function in situations where they must perform to the expectations of others and are graded accordingly. Their own thoughts, feelings and perspectives receive little more than token acknowledgement. In spare time when there is some respite from the intellectual demands, children are often involved in sports where another aspect of functioning is rated. Now it is athletic ability that is graded, albeit less formally. We learn that having the right answers (not necessarily the wise or creative ones) and physical superiority endow us with power. We do not know that this is an external power, having nothing to do with our own authentic power, to which we have not yet been introduced. Those who do not provide the desired answers and cannot help their team score points are rendered relatively powerless.

All of this is well learned by the sixth grade. Those who see things differently learn either to distrust their own perceptions, or that their perceptions are not valued by others. They may gravitate to the fringes where they happily pursue their own creativity, or unhappily rebel against the oppressive, omnipresent norm. The remainder (the norm) move on, basking in the warmth of acceptance, collecting the rewards that come from being right. Unfortunately, the world is much broader than the curriculum, and difficulties arise when black and white minds enter a world of many shades. Conditioned to support one’s answer, it is difficult to embrace the larger view, which encompasses both sides of a polarity.

We may be aware enough to acknowledge, as adults, that our viewpoint is indeed simply our perception. Still, we believe that our perception is the right one. We remain, as individuals or as nations, locked in the impasse between perceptions. We keep ourselves separate by adding more energy to our own side of the polarity, and distancing from the other. This results in a world, a people, a family or a heart divided. Peace comes from reconciling differing perceptions. It comes from recognizing that for each individual or group, their perceptions are real for them. Ours are real for us.

The next step is to explore what each side is needing. Like the fairy tale where the king asks one son to divide the kingdom in half, and the other to choose which half he would like, we need to see through the eyes of the other, and imagine what we would want. Reasserting our own beliefs does not change anything. Understanding the beliefs of another just might.

There is no one teacher out there who will tell us unequivocally who is right. We can’t even all agree about what God wants. Humans do, however, have the ability to access inner wisdom. Operating from a place of love, compassion and respect for others is the only pathway to peace. I imagine a vantage point way out in the Universe, looking down on Earth. From that quiet vastness, we see all of the conflict, dissonance and disharmony amongst the Earth’s people. Cosmic observers might wonder why it is that way. Human beings, visitors for such a short time on a planet that is a jewel in the Universe, spending their precious time fighting one another. Why do they fight? Because rather than simply being in their world, and using their minds to create harmony, connecting with themselves and their Earth, they use their minds to separate themselves from the whole and from others. They get so lost in their own perceptions, that they blind themselves to the whole. Not realizing they are all one, they negate others and in so doing negate part of themselves.

It has been said that a miracle is a shift in perception. If we shift out of our own perceptions, and truly see others as a reflection of some part of ourselves, things would change. If we bring love and compassion to the unhealed parts of ourselves, and then out into the world, we would experience peace in our hearts, and joy in our souls. Being right pales in comparison.

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