That’s the question that the old Christmas carol asks. If you would, before you read any further, please go to YouTube, and bring up and watch a 90 second video called the “The Monkey Business Illusion” by Daniel Simons. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGQmdoK_ZfY
How did you do? Feel tricked, misdirected, fooled? I did. Even though I knew about this classic experiment and thus saw what I expected to see, I totally missed the person leaving the exercise and the curtains changing color.
I was reminded of this experiment and its findings as a result of a series of conversations that I have been having with some friends of mine about what each of us believes we are experiencing these days as a nation; economically, politically, socially, spiritually, globally, environmentally, and psychologically. We look at the same scenes, hear the same words and “see” very different things.
The discussion has evolved into two perspectives. One perspective suggests that, in general, things have never been better for us human beings. This point of view suggests that either the racism, sexism, poverty, mocking, humiliating, bullying, inequality, and rule changes that permit greater exploitation of the environment (that some believe are from the highest level of leadership of our country) don’t actually exist or even if they do exist, they represent nothing more than unfortunate side effects that co-exist with the far greater good. They see no real existential threat, except perhaps that others don’t truly understand what is happening and are crying “WOLF” and all the dangers associated with what they believe to be a false narrative.
The other point of view suggests that there is a gorilla walking through the scene, doing more than beating its chest. They suggest that there are big problems. Economic, political, social, spiritual, psychological and environmental threats to our very existence.
I’m with them. I see a gorilla in our midst. A huge one. His name is Chaos. At the same time, I can count the passes. What do I see? I wrote of them before the 2016 election when I was commenting on the Bernie/Donald phenomenon. (https://www.klontzconsulting.com/single-post/2016/09/13/Whats-Going-On-Part-I-of-II and https://www.klontzconsulting.com/single-post/2017/03/17/Whats-Going-On-II).
What that video reminds me of is that, ideally, I need to be open to seeing and hearing the things that those most affected are telling me about their truths, even if it doesn’t match what I see or feel or believe. I need to remember that there is always more going on than what I initially see, and the more I look at it, the more that is revealed. I need to remember that the information I get is filtered. Shaped by those who want me to see certain things and not others. “They” have an agenda for me. “They” want to be the ones to shape my belief system and ultimately my actions, rather than allow me to come to my own conclusions and make my own choices.
I am also reminded that science suggests that there are some of us who are unable to see anything beyond what we believe we are seeing, regardless of subsequent evidence. For those of us in this category, information that would suggest that our belief system contains errors or is incomplete, or lacks perspective simply makes us “surer” of our position and not less so.
For others of us, it is easier to hold contrary information and make a more informed decision. It is how our brains are wired. I’ve written of that before (https://www.klontzconsulting.com/single-post/2017/03/16/Unique-Opportunities-Presented-by-the-Election-of-2016) as I talked about the research on flexible and inflexible brains.
If enough of us can say “Look at that gorilla”, “Did you see that curtain change color”, “Did you notice that person who left?”, perhaps we can move the discussion about whether or not something happened to what we can do about the consequence and artifacts of “It”.
The only way that will happen is if we can be open enough to look at the world and what is happening through other’s eyes, allowing ourselves, for a moment at least, to imagine that they have a point of view that we can learn something from.
So, I am interested in knowing what you see as you look at our situation. What do you see economically, politically, socially, spiritually, globally, environmentally and psychologically?
What do you think, if anything, we need to do about what you see?