ALCHEMY OF WORDS
ALCHEMY OF WORDS
how to blend the worlds
The universe is an endless paradox of limited visibility. (How's that for an opening line.) Too often we believe that only this or that can be true. That there is such a thing as the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That people can only be with us or against us.
From our flawed judicial system to the daily conversations inside and outside our heads, we live in an increasingly thin slice of reality. One in which people, things, and ideas are categorized, stereotyped, and affixed with childish labels like right or wrong, good or bad. Where, in the name of a loving God, people hate one another.
What all these thoughts and conclusions have in common is the arrogance of believing that the universe is knowable. And that the thinkers of all these thoughts know all there is to know. Think about that. Think about what this mix of certainty and arrogance requires.
The internet both connects us and keeps us separated from one another. Not just because we are glued to our phones instead of physically interacting. It also allows us to be insular in our associations and narrow in our exposure.
Yes, to a certain extent this has always been true. We have long subscribed to the newspapers and magazines that fit our worldview, favored one news channel over another, and stayed steadfastly true to one political party. Technology has simply amplified those tendencies. While also allowing us to avoid anything like an actual conversation.
It’s easy to hate on a certain segment of America for not seeing things the way we do. But there’s also a kind laziness in that behavior. And a measure of hypocrisy. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ve all become willfully ignorant to things we find unpalatable or inconvenient, and those blond spots allow us to be unquestionably sure that our conclusions are the right ones.
The marketplace of ideas thrives when people are talking. To each other. Not just to the choir. I'm not talking about opening the corral gate so free speech can lead us to the truth. (See paragraph one.) I'm talking about expanding our ideas (of ourselves and each other), our possibilities, and our humanity.
Like never before, we need to step out of our bubbles and breathe fresh air. We need to understand that America is every gradation of white, black, brown, and orange. We are also young, old, gay, straight, transgender, strong, feeble, smart, dumb, courageous, and confused.
If we look around and all our friends are the same color, religion, or end of the political spectrum, we are part of the problem. We must go out and mingle outside our comfort zones. And while I’m not advocating we go out and make a token gay friend so we can say we’re not bigots, why not start with finding that one friend. And then have some real conversations with them. Conversations that are based upon curiosity and not knowing.
In fact, here's my recipe for a happier future: Take one part your ideas and add several parts of the ideas from others around you that you mostly agree with but have not fully explored. Next add another handful ideas you've heard of, but are not so sure about. Blend together and let sit.
Once settled, slowly add equal parts ideas you've never heard of and those you think you disagree with. Stir vigorously and put in the oven at low temperature for as long at it takes for you to understand that alone, your ideas are just flour, with maybe a little water sprinkled on top. In order for them to be truly interesting, they need to be combined with other flavors and textures.
Once your batter has turned into something with more substance, remove from the oven and let cool. Then invite over your closest friends, some people you know, but don't really hang out with, then add a few strangers, and those who do not share your political, ethnic, religious, gender, or sexual identity. Slice up the concoction. Set out the plates and glasses. Pour some lemonade, open some wine, and start talking. And listening.
Be well everyone.
Stay in your magic.
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