Rising Above Naive Realism

Be wary of the roles you play and the acts you put on, because you tend to fulfill the labels you accept. Above all, remember the more harm you cause, the more hate you feel. The more kindness you express, the more you come to love those you help. – David McRaney, author of You are Now Less Dumb

Naive Realism” is a theory of knowledge that holds that we see the  world as it how we judgeactually is and our impression of it is an objective, accurate representation of “reality”.  Or put another way, it is “the conviction that one’s own views are objective and unbiased, whereas the other’s views are biased by ideology, self-interest and irrationality. ” (Naive Realism as a Barrier in Conflict Resolution)  It’s also a great obstacle to  self-awareness, civility and social justice.

Continue reading

An Epiphany on Race

face in the crowdYesterday afternoon I accidentally cut off another shopper with my cart on the way out of the store. I took my own advice about better connecting with people, looked directly at her, smiled apologetically and said, “I’m sorry!”

The woman gave me an unmistakable glare of disapproval and stalked past me without a word and out the door. She was a black woman.  Her reproach was palpable, and I felt small and miserable.

Continue reading

Beyond #Hashtags and Petitions: Time for a Change of Meme

maxresdefault“We’re left heartbroken yet again in the wake of deadly acts of violence against police and our fellow citizens. Our hearts go out to the loved ones of all those whose lives were taken.” said a note from Change.org that I found in my mailbox.

“Together, ” it went on to say, “we at Change.org reject the notion that violence is inevitable or must be tolerated. These are the times that can divide us, but we don’t have to take sides. If you believe in peace, understanding and justice, we are on the same side. We can make a choice to join one another in solidarity, and work together to build the world we want to live in. Right now.”

I read on eagerly for proposed solutions…

Continue reading

Shift Happens

1672 sculpture Entombment of Christ, showing Mary Magdalene crying.

1672 sculpture Entombment of Christ, showing Mary Magdalene crying.

So you must not be frightened if a sadness rises up before you larger than any you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloudshadows, passes over your hands and over all you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any miseries, or any depressions? For after all, you do not know what work these conditions are doing inside you.
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Shift happens. Throughout my life – and probably in yours – there have been moments when life has tilted. Sometimes the reason why is pretty obvious: a birth, a death, that moment when something “clicks”. Sometimes the reason is less obvious, something just shifts. The result is the same.  Things change, and some things will never be the same.

Continue reading

Coexisting With or Without the Bumper Sticker

We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.  -Martin Luther King, Jr.

165212878_7f8aa6cb2a_b I took my father to lunch this past weekend, and when I came out of the restaurant, and passed behind my car to get into the driver’s seat, I discovered someone had removed my Coexist bumper sticker.

It was a magnet actually, but had been on the back of my car for quite a while.    I was very fond of it.  I liked seeing it on other cars, and always knew when I saw it that we had a sort of camaraderie of hope as we drove along on our parallel ways to wherever it was we were going.  It was nice to park next to another Coexistance fan. I knew they probably wouldn’t ding my car, or be a parking space hog.

Continue reading

Islands in the Sea, Connected in the Deep

Morality is often regarded as a creation of reason, an affair of concepts and principles; but it may be that the imagination is a more necessary foundation for morality than reason, because the injustices that we are asked to relieve and to abolish are most often injustices that we ourselves have not known. The narrowness of experience is one of the primary impediments to compassion. We will never give help if we cannot picture need. 

From The Syrian refugees and us,  by Leon Wieseltier

islandWe are like islands in the sea, separated on the surface but connected in the deep, said 19th century philosopher, William James.

One could also say the sea that separates us is sometimes angry, hurling tsunamis of the overwhelming grief and heartache of war, terrorism, poverty, disease and madness, against our isolated shores.  But it is not the world that generates those metaphorical waves, it is we humans who inhabit it,  and we also have the power to calm the sea.

Continue reading