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The Tinkered Mind
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July 30th, 2018
In the public arena, switching one’s stance on a subject is often an act akin to shooting one’s own foot. Which is strange considering a moving target is harder to hit.
It probably has to do with our fear of uncertainty and randomness. If someone shifts their opinion, we worry what else about them might shift. Unfortunately we love certain definitiveness. We like to categorize things and have them stay put. Just imagine if while cleaning your room, objects meandered about at random. Establishing a sense of order would be an infuriating endeavor to say the least. (Perhaps this is why the parents of toddlers can get so stressed.)
As a population of people we expect individuals, especially those in the media spotlight to be like lighthouses that never shift. Indeed a moving lighthouse would be the worst nightmare for someone trying to navigate and many sailors have been deceived and killed by bandits who lead them onto rocks by impersonating a lighthouse’s flame in the wrong place.
The expectation is an unfair one. No one fully figures out everything, and because of that we must understand that people will and should shift in their views and their understanding of things as they live and learn.
As individuals, how shall we best think about the possible perspectives that can be taken of any given subject?
Any given subject should not be treated like a painting for which we stand in front of and look at from pretty much one angle.
We need to be agile and on the move and treat any given subject like a sculpture. Something you walk around and look at from many angles. We might trace a circle around a sculpture, and in doing so it’s important to remember that any given circle has an infinite number of points on it.
But even a circle is limited in the way that you can view a sculpture or a picture.
Think for a moment of the artist who made the sculpture. While sculpting, how many perspectives did they take while working? Such an artist likely had a ladder on hand to look at it from all sorts of angles above the sculpture. Such an artist also probably had the sculpture elevated so that the artist could crouch down and look at it from many lower angles. In all, the artist is trying to consider the work from a sphere of perspectives. This is probably not done in some orderly fashion either, like tracing an equator around the piece and then moving up a few degrees of latitude and looking at it from a higher tighter circle around the sculpture.
We are all fairly familiar with the story of Pandora’s Box. It was opened and out spilled a chaotic mix of evils.
Pandora has an interesting name though. Pan means ‘all’ and ‘dora’ means gift. Perhaps her box contained the wrong sort of gift, but imagine if she had a satellite. What kind of a gift would that be?
Pandora’s Satellite would move around the earth in any and all directions, looking at the earth from every possible point of view. Like the artist looking at their own sculpture, we would benefit from thinking about Pandora’s Satellite, and ask: “How else can I look at this subject?” Remember, just like points on a circle or a sphere, there’s an infinite number of ways to look at anything. Should we be so trusting and certain of our own opinion on any given topic? Or would it be more beneficial to entertain a few other ways of walking around a subject.
It would even do some good to entertain that original fear of uncertainty and randomness and even embody it. Taking a view of a subject from a random set of points is going to make much quicker work of figuring out what you’re looking at then starting at one point and making an ant’s crawl around the subject.
And also remember when someone switches their opinion on a subject. Perhaps they’ve got a better understanding of the subject by entertaining other points of view and a new one just proves to be more useful.
This episode references Episode 103: Opinion or POV, Episode 69: Two Eyes, Episode 81: Walk and Talking, Episode 8: Tiny Steps & Leaps If you haven’t checked out those episodes yet, they would definitely be great starting points for this episode.