Your Reality or Mine #20 #cong23 #reality


We all have differnt realities, how do we create and share a reality? A truth?

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Key Takeaways:

  1. No two people have the same reality

  2. Different realities can mean division and mistrust

  3. How do we talk to each other?

  4. There is alwyas a path to shared truth

About Joe Kearns:

Engineer, computer scientist and former senior IT manager. Intercultural trainer. Passionate about history and politics. Half-decent amateur photographer. Loves spiders and insects.

Contacting Joe Kearns:

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By Joe Kearns

Your reality or mine
“Climate Change is a man-made phenomenon that threatens human existence”
”So-called climate change is entirely natural and has nothing to do with human activity”

And then

“Donald Trump is sleazy failed businessman with no moral compass eager to seize power at any cost to the people of the USA”
”Donald Trump is a visionary and the only one who can save the USA from the onslaught of woke socialist thinking that will destroy our way of life”

I used to teach English. I particularly enjoyed teaching the Conditionals. For those of you who don’t know, or have forgotten your grammar, conditionals have numbers depending on how “real” the situation is. The zero conditional is certainty – “If you heat ice, it melts”. This is reality – unless you stray into the world of science fiction or the paranormal. To most people this is fact, reality.

The fourth conditional is something impossible – “If I had known, I would have been a watchmaker”. This was Albert Einstein’s quote on hearing of the bombing of Hiroshima. What he describes is wishful thinking, what he whished might have happened, but not reality.

In trying to discern which of two opposing views of any situation is more likely to be reality we can apply the test of reasonableness. Most reasonable people think that the first statements above are reality, they are closer to the zero conditionals. Sadly, in my world view, for some the second statements are, for them, reality.

So how do people whose “realities” vary so much even talk to each other?

I have a brother who likes Donald Trump and could probably have written the second statement about Trump above. I am very fond of my Trump-liking brother and he is an extremely intelligent person.

My brother and I usually meet for coffee once a month and inevitably Trump comes up. I always try to look for areas where we have the same views – not easy with the subject matter. But strangely when I listen to him and try to understand why he thinks the way he does we end up having a great conversation. If we start from a position of thinking the other is nuts there can be no dialogue

But where are the different realities formed? We can form a view of reality if we take a piece of ice and heat it up. Not too many will argue about that scientific reality.

But more complex things like the cause and effect of Climate Change are way more slippery. This is where wishful thinking can insert itself – the fourth conditional. It is more comforting to think that Climate Change is not caused by my actions and much easier NOT to make changes in one’s life if our actions are not causing the disasters we see unfolding.

However, whatever you wish to be true there is always a reality in there somewhere, a zero conditional. It is hard to see it in the case of Climate Change so we have to trust scientists to tell us the reality. Which, if one doubts the integrity of scientists, opens the door to wishful thinking and rationalisation of actions.

And when it comes to the situation in Gaza and Israel, or the wars in Ukraine or Sudan, where will we find reality? How will we talk to each other when we disagree on what is reality?

It can be done. It has been done at other times – Northern Ireland and Rwanda come to mind.

In the end some version of Truth, of Reality, has to be agreed or we cannot make peace.

….and remember, never judge another person unless you have walked a mile in their shoes. At least then, if you still disagree you’ll be a mile away from them and you’ll have their shoes 😉

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