In my ‘smallest room’, I like to keep a book handy for those longer visits where I can fill my mind while emptying other parts. As you may have surmised from the tone and content of my posts, I don’t like wasting time, and as my income and laziness have not yet stretched to having a door-mounted TV in there, reading is a great substitute.
Today, rather self-indulgently, I selected an old copy of The Seven Habits Workbook, something I buy from time to time to reinvigorate myself with some self-analysis. (I never seem to get to the bit on interpersonal communication, for some reason. Maybe that’s why I never listen.)
In the first pages, the book asks the reader to explore an event where their paradigms were changed because their first impressions were realigned when new information came to their notice.
My favourite example was the day I challenged some kids for throwing litter. Local shops suffered from youths ‘hanging around’ which resulted in repeated calls to police, which in that capacity I used to attend. Off duty one day, I was walking past a small group of teens when I heard a can hit the floor. I challenged the youths to pick it, probably quite brusquely, and they declined the offer. It was only as I stood there facing them down that I realised that the nearby litter bin was overflowing, and it was exceptionally windy.
They hadn’t dropped the can. Nature had.
I realised then, in my own AHA moment, what a paradigm is and how it affects our thinking. It is the way we see things, the lens through which we see and interpret what is happening. And like many lenses, it alters our vision. A lens can correct our vision, or warp it.
Yesterday, a politician was challenged for ‘something he said’. The reports outlined how he had insulted people who died in the Grenfell Tower disaster as ‘lacking common sense’. The funny thing was, he didn’t say that. People with an interest in challenging the politician – and the media, who can never let a fact get in the way of a good story – decided that ‘lacking common sense’ was what he meant.
You can see what he actually said, here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CT2z-TtgElU
(You can also look up a previous post from 2016 about The Donald on this site.)
The aim of today’s post is not to tell you what to think. It is to remind you that we ‘think’ through a lens created by our history, our references and our values. And, importantly, so do others.
Which means that when we are told something by someone else they, too, are telling us through their paradigm of the way they see things – which means that what they are saying may – emphasis may – be based on a misunderstanding, a misinterpretation, or even on mischief.
It’s not always easy to spot, and if you consider that adding our lens to their lens may warp things even further, perhaps the lesson here is to be really careful when starting to espouse your opinions on ‘what just happened’, too.
The other thing I felt about this incident was how our ‘enlightenment’ on matters which should be dealt with ‘sensitively’ (i.e. less than truthfully?) has resulted in a massive increase in tolerance.
“You should be more sensitive, you ignorant fascist bastard!” Irony.
Isn’t it amazing just how thoughtful you become after reading a book when sat with your trousers around your ankles?
And on that image, I’ll let you go. Another toilet metaphor. I could go all day……..