Tag Archives: understanding

Do you Fear? or Understand?

Our species has travelled a long and twisty road to get to where we are today. From hunter-gatherers to farmers and fishers, to city-builders, machine-makers, and space travelers, we’ve survived by adapting to our changing world.

Not too long ago, fearing the Dark Forest and the Big Bad Shark was necessary for our survival. But when we learned more, we came to a new viewpoint: The lion, the wolf, the shark aren’t evil. They are just predators, as God made them. They are predators, like we are.

“The basis of our fear is our lack of understanding.” Lisa Mondy, Shark bite survivor

It’s an evolutionary step  – from fear to understanding. If we really are the smartest animal on the planet, then we can see the whole context. The wolf hunts to eat, and keeps the tundra rodents from over-populating. Considering the predator for their role in the ecosystem doesn’t mean there’s no danger. It means we have a fuller understanding.

In the video, the surfers and divers are all survivors of shark attacks. Yet they have come together to advocate for these predators, who are disappearing at an alarming rate. Because of myth and misunderstanding.

 

Don’t Fear the Fin. Support your world’s oceans, as if your life depended on it. It does.

To Stand Under

How do we learn to live with people who aren’t like us?

Mahzarin Benaji researches unconscious bias at Harvard. She discussed her fascinating and important research  this week on the podcast On Being.

Dr. Benaji uses the word “implicit” instead of “unconscious,” because of

“the implication that the unconscious is this incredibly motivated, smart process that is constantly trying to do things that are in my interest and shove away the deep dark secrets of my childhood that I don’t wish to remember. And the science has not produced good evidence for that.”

Her book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People asks the question:

“‘Are you the good person you yourself want to be?’ And the answer to that is no, you’re not. And that’s just a fact. And we need to deal with that if we want to be on the path of self-improvement.”

 

Who is ‘Other’?

According to Dr. Benaji’s findings, distrusting the ‘other’ has provided, until recently, an evolutionary advantage: discernment about who to embrace into one’s community was a useful filter in an agrarian culture.

But in today’s global world, this inner program doesn’t serve us when we are, for instance, hiring someone, or choosing the best candidate for a program. Someone who looks and speaks in strange-to-us ways is quite often the best choice. Yet those who haven’t experienced multiple cultures in a community like a university, urban life or the workplace still operate from this ancient, implicit view. This might explain some of the Trump phenomenon.

Apparently without direct experience of ‘others.’ we are not inclined to consider their humanness. In the wake of the horrifying Orlando shooting, teaching tolerance is clearly an urgent need.

Instead of the word tolerance Dr. Benaji prefers the word understandingUnderstand comes from Old English and is literally stand, read as viewpoint, and under meaning beneath or unconscious.

You are the Unreliable Narrator!

For an example of how unreliable our automatic perception can be, have a look at the Selective Attention Test video. If you haven’t already, watch the vid and follow the instructions carefully.

Are you willing to challenge your automatic assumptions?

Please share your insight!

Thanks to Univ. of Haifa School of Social Work for the header image.