The Stratospheric Cost of An Or World
Okay, are we talking a macro-view or a micro-view here? What are we looking at — exactly? Macro? Micro? Actress? Seagull? Let’s call the whole thing off!
This was my reaction to the news articles I chose from this morning’s New York Times. Each ,took a slice of reality and told a relatively dire story about it. Each also, by default, had its own perspective. At the risk of stating the obvious, the authors have no other viewpoint than their own, no matter the theoretical objectivity mandate that allegedly undergirds journalism. [Not really possible, but that’s another essay.]
There were macro viewpoints and micro viewpoints. Good or bad viewpoints. More or less viewpoints. If this, then — God help us — probably THAT! There were looks backwards and looks forward. There were interpretations of the past and prognostications for the future.
Every single story (note that word) was told through a lens, a filter, a belief system of perception. Each author was, in essence, saying, From my perspective, this is what I see. They’re all stories, Beloved, told from each author’s personal viewpoint — as all stories are. It’s called POV by we who write books.
Honestly, how could it be otherwise? Have you figured out how to see through another person’s eyes? I don’t think any of us has. Or can. We can only see the world through our very own perception. But no one acknowledges this. We’re all speaking, willy-nilly, like what we each see is the only thing there is to see.
It just isn’t true, Beloved.
The thing that concerns me the most about our world right now is that no one, and I mean no one, is holding the whole of our country, the whole of our society, the whole of our civilization, the whole of our world in view. I repeat, no one. I’m starting to think that no one can.
Operative word: one. [Read the previous sentence again please.]
What that means is that we are subject to news and media and posts of all kinds that present a facet of reality, not all of reality. When faceting reality, the Cosmic Guidance Team writes in their Birth Playbook for Newly Incarnating Souls, “Faceting must be balanced by coordinated efforts with others so as not to skew perception.”
Here’s one micro-view: a photo of a Trump voter holding a sign — Trump Won. 4 More Years. Get Over It.
Here’s another micro-view, this one from Ross Douthat, “If you want to know how the Biden administration could blow this opportunity, though, look no further than his just-announced choice to run the Department of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra.”
Here’s another, a little more macro, from public affairs consultant Drew Holden: “The cost of coronavirus has been enormous. America has soared past 250,000 deaths — a quarter-of-a-million empty seats around tens of thousands of tables for the holidays. Finding a path forward in dealing with the coronavirus will require a reckoning with the harm, the hurt and the death that lockdown, not the virus itself, has caused. While it may prove preferable to the alternative, it has been a tragedy, too.”
These micro-views each has its own merit. It’s unimportant whether we agree or disagree with them, but for as long as we forget that they are micro-views, told from one person’s perspective and one person’s perception, we are doomed to mistake them for the entirety of reality, and they aren’t. They just aren’t.
The always-sensible Paul Krugman weighs in: “The point is that once a party gets into the habit of rejecting facts it doesn’t want to hear, one fact it’s bound to reject sooner or later is the fact that it lost an election. In that sense there’s a straight line from, say, the Republican embrace of climate denial to the party’s willingness to go along with Trump’s attempts to retain power.”
And here is the crux of our current polarization: no one is holding the real macro-view because in an Or World — one that has only micro-views — there is no collaboration, therefore there are no checks or balances, and our perceptions have to become almost irredeemably skewed. It’s not any one person’s job because no one can hold all of life.
Jennifer Weiner writes, tellingly, of the stunningly silly mythology known as the war on Christmas, “There is, of course, no actual war against Christmas, although over the years it’s been an extremely useful fiction. Fox News personalities and conservative politicians tell believers that they are a persecuted minority and that they need to give their votes, their support and their money to those who would defend them.
“This year that fake war, with nary a single true victim, is running straight into another culture war, one with fatal potential. Some of the very people who see anti-Christian bigotry in the words ‘happy holidays’ have now located the same dark intent in Covid-19-related restrictions.
“‘Our federal overlords say “no singing” and “no shouting” on Thanksgiving,” Representative Paul Gosar, Republican of Arizona, wrote as he retweeted a Centers for Disease Control list of Thanksgiving safety tips.”
Overlords? Really? Overlords. Wow. Now if that isn’t a perfect demonstration of an Or World life view, I don’t know what is. We don’t have overlords, Beloved. We have perfectly flawed human beings trying to do their best within a system that thwarts them every step of the way.
Jennifer Weiner again with a fresh breath of truth, “This is a toxic brew of science skepticism mixed with religious paranoia poured on top of a bedrock truth: We really, truly are missing out this holiday season, as we have been for most of this year.”
“Still, let’s resist the urge to feel embattled. … Keeping Christmas small, staying home instead of traveling, seeing Grandma and Grandpa on a screen instead of in person is not religious persecution. But it is, in fact, a sacrifice.”
I have taken this word apart in these pages before. Sacre- means sacred + -fice = to make. Something that is sacrificed is made sacred. I think that’s the place we’re all going to arrive eventually.
The first thing we all need to be willing to sacrifice, Beloved, is our own perception. We need to learn to function as if there are all sorts of other perceptions than our own, and be open to hearing, learning about, and being changed by them.
That means we’ll get to change the very nature of our world from an Or World to an And World.
And, that will be a better world for all of us.
Ms. Weiner again, “And yet maybe there’s something worthwhile in the sacrifice — something even holy.
“‘The development of faith gives us the capacity to think outside of our immediate needs,’ the Rev. Winnie Varghese, an Episcopal priest at Trinity Church Wall Street in Manhattan, told me. “[W]e are in a really unusual moment, a once-in-a-lifetime crisis. And in those times, you see the church overwhelmingly look toward the greater good, the common good.”
I might even call it, the And good. The good for us all.
The Reverend concluded, “But, as an ordained person, it’s hard to believe that God would want us to harm other people — or ourselves.”
The only way forward — and yes, I know this is only my perception — is to embrace that And good, the good that considers everyone. And, the only way to create that And good is to know that we can only use our own perception, that others will have different perspectives, and that if we want a world that works for everyone, no one of us can hold even the idea of good for the whole world. We get to cooperate, we get to collaborate.
So, if we all hold the hands of just two others, and those two hold another two, ad infinitum, together, we can heal the losses of Covid-19, heal the schisms of the political divide, heal the individual and collective fear that we will not have what we need, and — together — create a world that works for everyone.
With a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Blessed Kwanza, a Cool Yule, a Happy Holidays — how ever you celebrate, and a family of humanity that loves and cares for one another because it’s the good and right, and ultimately, easiest thing to do.
Dr. Susan Corso is a spiritual teacher, the founder of iAmpersand, and the author of The Mex Mysteries, the Boots & Boas Books, and spiritual nonfiction. Her website is susancorso.com.