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Sunday
Oct032010

A Holey Meditation

"If some one can prove me wrong and show me my mistake in either thought or action, I shall gladly change. I seek the truth, which never harmed anyone: the harm is to persist in one's self-deception or ignorance."


-- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations (Book 6.21)

I had a thought that came to me in a dream the other day that concerned the perception of others and how one lives a life. Imagine you put everything you did in life - work, friends, family, hobbies, etc. etc. into a space 100m by 50m square and erected a 10" fence around it. In the middle of that fence is a hole, approximately 1 or 2cm in diameter. About 90% of the people who meet you will see your life through that restricted peephole, the information they glean from it effects their feelings and judgment toward you; the measure of your character according to them is essentially only a very rough and incomplete estimation.

So if what they see is incomplete, how can one take umbrage to their opinions of you? They do not speak of you personally since they only take in less than 1% of who you are, all of which is tainted by their biases and preconceptions - the clothes you wear, the music you listen to. We may all have shared experiences but they are all unique to us and us alone. So how can we possibly take the infantile ad hominem attacks personally when they cannot describe us all? Our names are convenient identifiers but they can easily be changed. As social animals we rely on others to explore our own humanity - compassion, friendship, anger and love. Some of us strive for truth - insofar that we do not falsify intentionally - but we must also remember that there are only degrees of certainty; probabilities and details we inevitably leave out. We have the capacity to reason with logic and the scientific method and properly explore the world around us and constantly ask questions.
 
That said, we must also be cognizant of our limitations - our weaknesses, our faults and our shortcomings - as they also make us who we are. Human.

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