Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

First Installment: This I Believe

This I believe: Reason and Perception

The This I Believe essays have interested me since first hearing about them in class. There are thousands of individual philosophies ranging from addiction and courage, to discrimination and equality, goodness and kindness, and so on. There is so much to be learned from everyday people who can teach you about an array of things that they themselves have experienced. I know it is important to look back on all of the classic philosophers and learn their way of thinking. But reading these ideals from these people who do more in life than that of a philosopher. They speak to experience rather than just thought. That's powerful to me.

So, for this first installment I have decided to write about a couple of the things that I believe and the stories behind them. I'll admit, I did google how to correctly write a This I Believe post. Thisibelieve.org had simple guidelines- be brief, be positive, and be personal. They suggest doing between 500 and 600 words, so that's why below I've done two different everyday philosophies of mine. In my second installment, I plan on interviewing friends of mine. I want to find out their opinions on my ideas, and if they’ve experienced similar aspects of it. I also want to know yours. I’m open to discussion on this, so please let me know what you think.

This I believe Number One: Everything Happens for a Reason

“Everything happens for a reason,” is a phrase a lot of people coin in a religious sense. I completely understand that way of thinking. Their reason is it is part of God’s plan to make you stronger and prepare you for your future. I like to think of it in more of the way the universe works on an everyday basis. Okay, I know, that sounds a bit odd, but hear me out. When everything happens for a reason is said, it’s usually during times of great suffering and people are trying to cope with it. But recently I’ve been shown a new take on that phrase.

My roommate is from Ohio. She comes from a big family and I get to hear all about their crazy little mishaps that happen every day. The one thing I noticed was that this phrase, everything happens for a reason, came up not only in a lot of her family stories, but in our daily lives of living ten feet across from each other. Once I noticed that, then I somehow started noticing little things in my daily life that would deserve that phrase. A small fight with my boyfriend would happened, and when we resolved it, I realized that needed to happen because the small issue wasn’t the problem, it was something bigger. My roommate wouldn’t wake up in time for her 9 am class, only to find out it had been cancelled anyways. I would forget my jacket (thinking that since it is supposed to be winter that it would be cold outside) only to find out that it was sunny and 65 and it was one less thing for me to carry. It’s the small things in my life that I find this everyday philosophy applies.

I encourage you to take a second and think about the smaller things in your life. That’s where you’ll begin to notice this phrase pop up too. Small strife’s in life occur for a reason, and usually that reason has something to do with the bigger picture of your situation in life. I know it sounds weird, and a bit on the optimistic side of life, but just try it.

This I Believe Number Two: Perception is Reality

The phrase "perception is reality" was one that my mother repeated endlessly throughout my childhood. I would catch myself saying it without really knowing the full meaning of it when I was young. As I grew older though, I started to understand why my mom said it in certain situations. I got a very clear idea of it over Thanksgiving dinner with my family.

I was one of two liberals of eight family members sitting at dinner. Conversations were happening, but we were all waiting for the inevitable one- politics. Of course it came up. I was actually shocked at how long it took for the topic to arise. My family spouted off various theories of theirs- Hillary has a disease, it was disgraceful for Hillary to wait until the next morning to concede, voter fraud is what made Hillary win the popular vote, and so so so much more. The things they said sounded so ridiculous to me. I've been in a political science course this semester, and all we have talked about was the election and the various conspiracy theories that happen to arise during it. Because of that class, I went into dinner armed with many facts to discredit my family's ideas. But you know what I discovered? No matter what fact I gave them, to show them why a certain way of thinking could be false, they dismissed me. They were so set in their ways and ideals, that no one else would sway them from that. Their perception of the world was their reality.

Throughout life I have found this to be a common thread, the notion of everyone’s perception being their reality. My story may have seemed negative towards it, but I don't find it to be a bad thing. All people have their own ideas of how the world is. That is a wonderful thing. If people didn’t have their own beliefs, then the world wouldn’t evolve in the way it thinks.
The shortcoming of humanity, however, is our lack of willingness to concede when we are proven wrong. I understand why my mother always said, “Perception’s reality.” She wouldn’t try to change opinions of the people she would converse with. Instead, when those individuals would spout off something totally out of line and refuse to listen to any other opinion, she would just say her coined phrase and walk away. To me that is a strong tactic. People have to decide on their own what their realities are. By not forcing your perception to be someone else’s reality, you can change the world.  I just wish more of our world could understand that concept. I think we would be a lot better off.

So there are two things that I believe in life. They have their optimistic tendencies, but so do I, so It’s fitting. If you managed to read through all of this, I’d like some feedback (I know it’s a requirement, but still) so I can include it in my next installment. I really want to delve into the minds of others in it and understand why they agree or disagree with what I believe. 

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  1. Of course everything happens for a reason (in the sense of being caused), but this doesn't make all the reasons good. Bad things happen. Deny that and you might as well join Candide and Dr. Pangloss and sing the praises of "the best of all possible worlds."

    I think we're inclined to notice and remember the small things that work out serendipitously (like oversleeping on the day class is cancelled) and to forget the ones that don't. We're selectively attentive.

    I'm hazy on how not challenging false and scurrilous statements can possibly make for a better world. We really can't all live in our own private reality bubbles and still pretend to be a civil society. We're entitled to our own opinions, not to our own facts.

    And yet, I do understand your Mom's distaste for arguing with intransigent people who aren't open to the real facts. Their improverished reality is rooted in perceptual blindness. The hard truth is that we're all afflicted by some blindness or other, and we all have to work at overcoming that.

    This Thanksgiving I was grateful that the kinds of conversations you report mostly didn't come up. So many of us nowadays "know" things that just aren't so. But that's a paraphrase from Mark Twain. What else is new?

  2. I go back and forth on the idea that "everything happens for a reason". I am a believer in God, and what I hear from most believers is not to worry too much about life because God has a plan and therefore, "everything happens for a reason". Now, I personally believe that some things happen for a reason. I think God intervenes for specific things to happen, like to meet the love of your life, or to make your alarm not work the day your office building catches on fire, or even smaller things that I could not comprehend the ultimate meaning of. I do not think that He plans out every single detail though. I can't believe that God plans to give people cancer, or that someone would accidentally hit a dog on the way home from work, or things like that. I simply believe that this is a world with people, cancer, dogs, and cars. And sometimes people get cancer and dogs get hit by cars. I believe that God will use whatever situation we are in to our and ultimately His advantage. So maybe everything doesn't happen for a reason in the grand plan, but God can use everything for His reasons. (H3)

  3. Most of what you have said is one hundred percent correct. I also like to see the little things that come about and how they change my life I have seen first hand how a bad situation in my life ultimately changed it for the better. Often even good things lead to good things one good thing will happen and that will directly lead to another good thing happening and so on. On to your philosophy about peoples perception, I am a republican and obviously going to a institution of higher education I am surrounded by many democrats. I don't hide the fact that I am heavily conservative but it is also something that I do not bring up often because like you I have relised it is a pointless argument people will believe what they believe. I would ask you to maybe not go into a political argument trying to armed to disprove someone's belief but rather to just discuss it with them.