Let’s Challenge Ourselves – Questioning Our Own Version of Reality
In the 1780s, Ben Franklin and the Duke of Orleans sent up a hot air balloon over France. As it descended into a farmer’s field, people rushed at it with sticks, pitch-forks and clubs. They attacked it in frenzy and beat it, certain it was the moon, having fallen to earth. How many times in history has it been shown how little we know? We used to believe that the world was flat and that smoking was not bad for us! Socrates said: he is wise who understands how little he knows. He was careful always to place himself at the standpoint of ignorance and to invite others to join him there and stay pondering for as long as possible. This is another way of saying that questions are more important than the answers.
At a Danish lunch recently I noticed how much of the conversation was about alcohol, the snaps and the beer, and all the sayings around drinking traditions. I commented that it shouldn’t surprise us that our youth drink so much, considering our own focus on it. Someone commented that of course they all had to get drunk and then learn through that. I challenged that asking “who says we have to get drunk, why do we?” In saying so it struck me how many things we never challenge, how much ‘muck’ we just repeat mindlessly. Let’s challenge ourselves, stay wondering and questioning for longer and start to unravel some of our givens. Here are some TOOLS for staying open to new ideas and not being stuck with our own version of reality:
- Asking ourselves what we really know about ourselves, our country, about what is going on in the world etc.
- Asking ourselves to what extent our prejudices or biases influence our thinking.
- How much do beliefs taken on uncritically prevent us from seeing things in other ways?
- Asking ourselves to what extent our beliefs are shaped by the time period in which we were born, by the place we were raised, by our parent’s beliefs, by our spouse’s beliefs, by religion, culture, politics and so on?
- Spending time with anyone who is very different to us: teenagers, people of a different political persuasion or of a different cultural background and so on.