A New Way for Us to Deal with An Increasingly Complex World
Recently, I learned about the theory of Multiple Social Truths. This states that truth, regarding our social sphere, is not absolute. Life is highly complex and as such there are many different ways of experiencing any given situation. This means that one person’s truth might be entirely different to another’s. This fact does not discount each person’s individual perspective. In fact, we are nourished by discovering and learning from many other people’s individual truths. When we take on board another’s perspective we are able to go from a narrow, self-centred focus to a more wise and expanded apprehension of the complex issue at hand.
The Blind People and the Elephant
It is like the story of the blind people and the elephant. One person feeling the trunk is convinced the elephant is a huge fire hose; one person touching the elephant’s leg is totally sure that it is a tree trunk. Still another person holding the tail is adamant that the elephant is a vine hanging from a tree. Everyone has their view, yet everyone is failing to see the bigger picture. We are in danger of being like those blind people, insisting on the truth of our individual viewpoints. What would happen if we learn to collaborate and learn from others’ truths?
Side Stepping Polarisation
This kind of loosening of our insistence on rightness and superiority, is one of the skills we need to meet our complex, global future. By relinquishing our fixed positions we work together for the good of all, rather than against each other for the good of a few. If humans equitably collaborate, share and discuss multiple social truths, we will build a huge body of knowledge and resources. It is time to shift towards this way of thinking on a large scale. For we don’t step up to collaborate sensibly, big data and AI will step in and take control. As humanity grapples with this possibility, I feel we’ll step up to the plate and I feel this new way of thinking will take off exponentially, once people realise its power.
Human Wisdom or AI Logic?
Do we want to hand over control to machine learning and be stuck in a system where our every heartbeat is tracked and monitored? Or can we remember our humanity and make better choices for the planet?
I’m sure many people will feel that we’ve made such a mess thus far, it is better for us to relinquish control. Those with the financial, political and corporate power haven’t done a great job thus far. However, the problem is that the very same characters will be in control of the data and the AI.
Clearly, It is time to look elsewhere for ideas.
Drawing on the Wisdom of the Marginalised
Many people have been cut off from contributing to bodies of knowledge as they have been sidelined, marginalised or oppressed. The Native American Indians are good examples. Their truth (which I share) is that Nature is alive, sacred and wise. To blow up a mountain, to pollute a body of water, to build on sacred land, is akin to murder or torture of a living being. This is one truth we could take on board, alongside other truths such as “I need minerals to build the computer I’m typing on”. The truths can co-exist – they must if we are to survive. We can find a way of respecting, honouring and learning from others’ truths. It is time to listen intently to ALL voices for the answers to our current issues of global ecological collapse, food insecurity, water shortages and the increasing divide between rich and poor. It is clear that our current political systems are not up to the job.
Making Our Personal Transformation
So, next time you feel your truth is more correct than another’s, be mindful of the potential consequences. Perhaps consider how they came to that understanding that is different to yours. What might be learned if you were to step into their shoes and see things from their perspective? And can you hold the possibility that BOTH your truth and the other person’s (and many other’s truths) are all correct?
Be Kind to Yourself and Others
There’s no need to berate ourselves for making these mistakes, just like in our yoga practice, the awareness of the mistake is enough, plus the intention to try not to make it again. Don’t give yourself a hard time about it, we’ve been raised and educated in this old paradigm.
This is the way we transform our world into a more equitable, kinder and resilient place. Let’s make this inner transformation so the outer world can find peaceful solutions to the problems that we are dealing with.