Monday, 16 May 2011

Spitting In Your Soup

Now you can still eat the soup, but it's not going to taste the same, is it? 
Today I'm serving up an observation about how we ignore ideas that cause us unease. At first pass, one wonders why anybody would want to do? Bare with me, though; I'll try to explain.  Imagine that as a child, on mothers knee, you were told something. Imagine you're told that somewhere out there is a being that loves you. One that knows everything about you. One that has a special cosmic plan for your life. And all you have to do is try to love this being in return, and follow a few simple rules. Mother assures you that if you do this, as well as having a guide book for this life, when you die you get to meet this really special being and spend forever telling him what a fab chap he is. Now very young children are evolutionarily primed to obey parents.  Our ancestors faced huge dangers and raising young was no small feat. The offspring that did as parents told had a greater chance of survival, whereas those who didn't ended up feeding a family of saber tooth tigers or some similarly voracious predator. So survivors grow up to teach their kids the same thing, and so on and so forth. And what this means is that it becomes instinct to accept, often without question, what our elders teach us.  But what if your parents tell you things that are just plain daft? You've  trusted them with your very survival; why not with everything else? So you see the problem. What we're told when we are young can embed real deep.  So let's now return to the metaphor of spitting in somebody's soup. Imagine that the spittle is an idea that challenges your deeply cherished values? What's your initial response? I'm not eating that! But we're not really talking about spittle are we? We're talking about having our way of thinking challenged. I'd argue that we owe a greater debt to those that rattle our cages than to those who only plump our proverbial pillows. We all have bad ideas. We all live them out if left unchecked.  So the moral of this story is simple. Next time somebody tells you something that you might not want to hear,  instead of going into siege mode you could, when you get a quiet moment, perhaps reflect on it? Now the idea you've been exposed to might be good or it might be tosh. But exactly what do you gain by hiding from it?

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