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"The soul that can speak through the eyes, can also kiss with a gaze."
~Gustav Adolfo Becquer

A Paradigm Shift

>> Wednesday, November 12, 2008

What we don't know...

We Fear.

Fear, according to Merriam-Webster states:
to be afraid of : expect with alarm (fear)intransitive verb: to be afraid or apprehensive (feared)

Very recently, I had posted a link in a forum I frequent. It was about Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sending a congratulatory letter to President Elect Barack Obama, in spite of no diplomatic relations between
"us" and "them" for...... 30 years.
If interested, you'll find the NY Times article here.
What ensued was a back and forth between myself and a couple others of opposing views. I was intrigued that my stance (keeping an open mind and proceed with Caution, but still proceed) was met with such resistance, and a few times I thought I almost heard the word 'Heretic' float towards me between the text. It was at this juncture that I started to think about how some were caught up in Fear and how their fear wouldn't allow them to see any other possibility outside of total world doom if the U.S. and Iran had actually opened up diplomatic communications.

Though I've opened this post citing this political debate as an example,
that is exactly what it example.
My focus is on Fear and ways of thinking, and people's perceptions of it and how it guides or misguides them. So for those who either have engaged with me in that debate, or just pondered from the sidelines (With buttery popcorn in hand and paused at their lips), or anyone else reading this article on Iran/U.S. and want to add their thoughts, please be advised, my post is not about politics. It's not about Obama. It's not about Iran, and it's certainly not about Republicans and Democrats. It's about how we think about things. And how our perceptions guide us or mislead us. So if I use examples from current world events or other possible controversial topics, know that they are used to help clarify a point that I make about Fear and the ways we think.

If you were alone, lying in bed with the lights out, and just about asleep; when suddenly you heard this big crash come from the corner of your bedroom, and jolted you awake.
What would you do?
Most people would probably jump up and quickly turn on the light.
And when you do, it is to quickly assess the situation to determine what course of action to take next.
As the light went on and you quickly assessed the situation, you determine one of two things...either it poses a danger or it does not.
If it does not, then your heart begins to slow down, as does your breathing and other Fight/Flight physiological responses you have, and you begin to return to your natural relaxed state.
If it does pose a danger (a stranger climbing through your window) you then again make a decision on how you will handle that. Another Fight/Flight and now also Freeze response are possible options for you.
In short, by you turning on the light to see what's happening, you are able to better determine your course of action.

But what would happen if you didn't get up and turn on the light? What then?
You're lying in bed, having just been jolted awake by this crash in the corner, and you lie there. Not knowing what that crash was, what had happened, or whether you were in danger or not. And you continue to lie there. Wondering.
And Wondering.
And what are you thinking? My guess it's probably not Sugar Plums and Fairies.
Fear sets in as our thoughts turn to 'What ifs" and what other horrid or awful things that we think of, as our imagination takes over where cold hard facts are lacking or ignored.
We have somehow learned to fear the unknown, regardless of the fact that the unknown can be positive or negative in nature.
And we let that fear control us and it guides or misguides our every move.
When we don't turn the light on and look around, we are driven by our fear.
Our fear controls us.
And when we avoid what we fear, we give it strength, we give it energy, we give it power.

Given the example of some people's strongly held beliefs of what they 'think' will happen if Obama opens up diplomatic talks with Iran, an overall sense of doom & gloom shadowed that idea. Blood shed, war, etc. seemed to be the underlying 'fear' was was being used to guide how they viewed that possible outcome.

So, let's say we respond react with how our Fear dictates that we should respond react. How does that impact and influence Iran and the rest of the world whose watching? What message do we send to Iran and others when we take a Fear-based approach to this. Don't misunderstand what I mean when I say Fear-based Approach. That doesn't mean that we present ourselves (as a Country) to be fearful of others. Au Contraire, quite the opposite. Think The Lady Doth Protest too Much Mentality.

Shall we Dance?
When President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent out that note, that was his invitation to dance. Iran's Dance step.
How we choose to respond or react will be America's dance step. And so on and so forth.
And because we've been doing this for years, we have a pretty good idea of each other's dance steps. "Ahhhh" you say. "And *that* is why we need to react the way we have, Iran means harm, they'll never change. They want bloodshed, etc. etc. etc."
That's one way to look at it.
Another way would be to say that we know each other's dance steps and we continue to react the same way over and over and over and over and over and over.....(insert end of Internet)..and over and..
Nothing changes. Different President, same war. Same song and dance.
I believe Albert Einstein is credited with the quote that "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results."
So, Keep things the way they are, and continue to address foreign policy and other countries the way we have, and we will continue to have that pure and sterling world image that other countries have come to adore us by.

Learn a new dance step.
If there truly is to be change, we need to change how we approach things.
We need to change what we think and how we think about things.
A paradigm shift in how we think and solve problems. A major overhaul, so to speak.
For those not familiar, the phrase 'Paradigm Shift', which was first coined by an incredible philosopher, Thomas Kuhn, is basically a change from one way of thinking, to another. It's a transformation of how we perceive the environment, people, events, and life in general.
It's a 'higher order' change of a world view.
Interestingly, Kuhn had used the below illustration to make his point. Many of you may recognize this fairly common 'optical illusion'.
Is it a rabbit? Or is it a Duck?

In order for you to perceive what you see from another perspective, there really needs to be a shift in how you think about that picture. In how you see it. Otherwise, you will only be limited to the one view.
This explanation is much more simplistic sounding then what it is. My suggestion for those who may have a bit of a philosophical mindset to begin with or your curiosity has been whetted, I suggest you read up on Thomas Kuhn. His theory about a Paradigm Shift and other incredible concepts can be further explored in his book: "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions".

I like the idea of the Optical Illusion below, to describe this shift, as it relates to my analogy the Congratulatory letter to Obama, and some people's views of it.
Look at this photo. What do you see?
Do you see the couple at the table, with the man clasping his hands in front of the woman?

Now shift your perception.
Do you see the skull now? Not sure? Step back from the picture a bit. See it now?
Interestingly, this photo is called "L' Amour de Pierrot" or "A Pierrot's Love".
And in my eyes, I equate the Skull with the current view of how our Fears color our perceptions. And when we are so locked in to that narrow and limited perception, we don't see the beauty of the man professing his love to his woman.
We don't see an alternate but equally valid reality.

I don't have the answers to the issues surrounding Iran-U.S. talks.
That's not what my post is about.
I do know that if we continue to use the same methods we have, and have our reactions be based in Fear, then we can't expect to evolve.

© 2008 Greeneyezz

5 Reflections:

confused 9:38 PM, November 12, 2008  

there are different fears one of them being the fear of the unknown and everyone has their own reaction depending on the circumstances.. it's what you do with the fear that's important ..let it lead you or you take the step slowly with care..

Pentad 10:15 AM, November 14, 2008  

This was a fantastic post. Thank you, and I loved that opening image!

Bobby 6:48 PM, November 14, 2008  

Hi Greeneyezz! I've seen you around many times, but I don't think I've ever commented here before.

Politically, I am a libertarian who is staunchly anti-war, unless for defense. I believe not talking to our so-called enemies is worse than trying something new. I absolutely oppose preemptive war - there is never a good reason to kill people offensively as it seems to spawn more hatred and violence. I'm a lifelong student of Aikido, a martial art based on peace. Real power comes from non-violence and there is always better ways.

Though I do not agree with the republicans or democrats in economic policy, I do agree with Obama's idea of bringing countries together and striving for peace. I also believe America must maintain strong defense - and I stress defense, not offense.

I don't have the answers for Iranian/American relations, but I think not talking is not the answer. Let's hope for something good! Great post by the way:)

Anonymous 1:42 PM, November 15, 2008  

You won't believe this, I recently had a similar conversation with a friend of my son. Her family is from Pakistan and they are Muslim. The family observes Muslim religious holidays - meaning fasting and 4:00am prayers during Ramadan, etc. She was commenting on the perceptions people (those who don't know her) have of muslims and how frustrating it is do endure some of their reactions, even when subtle. Can I tell you I love this kid...she is beautiful inside and out. She is smart, hard working, a member of the student council, is athletic (tennis team) and musical (marching band). She wears typical teenage clothing but does not show legs (no shorts - even when playing tennis) or shoulders (t-shirts with sleeves is in order). She is so respectful to everyone she meets, as is her family. It broke my heart to hear her describe her frustration. I told her that such reactions can be a result of fear that has created a prejudice. If she continues to be her wonderful self, she may be able to change this perception of muslims in (at the very least) the people she meets. Fear can certainly cloud judgement and keep one from moving forward.


Greeneyezz 11:41 AM, November 16, 2008  

Robert - "what you do with the fear that's important."
Oh yes, I agree. There *are* options, we don't have to be locked into only one perspective, including actually looking our fears directly in the eye, so to speak. Metaphorically speaking, hold it up to the light and look at it. Believe it or not most fears we have *are* unrealistic and irrational. And if we actually take the time to
'de-construct' our fears, one realizes many of those fears are for naught.

It's normal and OK to have fears. We don't have to be controlled by them though.

Pentad - I loved that photo too! It shows exactly what I am trying to convey here. And thanks for your kind comment. Ya know, I really need to put you on my blogroll. I've stopped by your site in the past, but it's kind of an 'out of sight, out of mind' kind of thing. Your site is pretty inspiring. :)

Bobby - lol It's funny, I've seen you around many times as well. Even the Internet seems to be getting smaller! :)
Yes, Strive for peace, and operate on the Defence. *That's* a concept, eh? Wonder what happened with that idea after 9/11. I was appalled when 'We' shifted our focus from Bin Laden to Saddam Hussein, and completely disgusted and offended that 'The Powers that be" insulted our intelligence by thinking we wouldn't 'notice'. Grrrrr.
Anyway, I still hold the opinion that we need to be cautious about the Iran-US talks, but we need to work towards Peace and stop with the Ethnocentric view that We are the center of the universe and therefore better. Ugh.

T - I bet she feels frustrated, and my guess a bit scared at times when/if people are treating her like *she* was the one who started 9/11. It kills me when I hear of someone saying something derogatory about another ethnic group.....just because they are different. Hello??
We're all Americans, but what's everyone's ethnicity? We're The Melting Pot, for Gosh Sakes!
Yes, tell her to continue to be her wonderful self, don't let the people who've allowed their Fear to rule them, to rule her by becoming resentful or fearful of others.


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