[This blog’s author(s) sometimes uses plural pronouns to refer to themselves.]
In our early twenties, we purposefully attempted to train ourselves to see as many different sides of an issue/argument as possible.
There is something about being abused as a child that can make people skeptical, untrustworthy, fearful of being deceived. We don’t want to risk falling for shiny speeches that turn out to be nothing but sales pitches, manipulation, propoganda.
For us, our outrage at untrustworthy speech began in college when we took American history and learned there were other perspectives than “Columbus discovered America.” We were raised in a K-12 system that promoted the sole view that Columbus discovered America; that is, we were raised with an Anglo-centric view of history.
We didn’t know there was any other way to view the world. It’s like when, as a child, you go to the eye doctor and can’t read the eye chart. The doctor says, “You need glasses.” You put the glasses on for the first time, and you cannot even believe what you have been missing! The entire world changes in a literal instant!
Unfortunately, once you discover the concept of “worldview,” putting on your metaphorical glasses reveals only the lens through which you have been seeing the world. You have to work to discover the other options. And in the 1990s, it seemed not many sources were dedicated to the teaching of critical thinking.
When we learned that not everyone viewed European colonization as a positive, we were mortified and enraged, disillusioned and resentful. How dare the-powers-that-be fill our heads with a version of history that served only their interests! Why didn’t we get to choose for ourselves?
And so it began. What in our lives that we held as sacred, as foundational truth, was actually open to interpretation? As it would turn out, almost everything: Abortion was not simply a matter of morality; it was politicized. Our inherited religion and religious enemies? Completely one-sided views fed to us like mindless lab rats.
We learned that advocates for a cause can, and often have, agendas. Soon, we were up to our eyeballs in questions, and–if one wants as many perspectives as possible before deciding on an answer–we had few easy answers. Our family’s mythology fed our budding dissent: everyone is out to get us, we are persecuted, everyone will take advantage of us if we’re not vigilant. We had believed this from a young age, and at that time it only reinforced our sheltered, one-sided views: People do hate us because of our religion. We have to dig in our heels, double down. All this form of skepticism accomplished was to close off our minds more fully.
It was exposure to other ideas that allowed us to open our minds.
For better or for worse, we graduated college just before the Internet became a phenomenon. The Tier-One research university we attended was just getting a new form of communication–optional to student unless assigned by a professor–called “electronic mail.” Our then-significant-other-now-spouse tried to explain it to us, and we were baffled and dismissive. “Who is going to go to the library to read their mail when it’s delivered to your home now?” Guess we didn’t see the dial-up modem revolution coming!
There is a reason this post hasn’t delved into “fake news” or directly into current events: we don’t follow the news! When our path changed from full-time employee and informed citizen to resident of a trauma hospital a little more than two years ago, we–at our therapist’s behest–gave up following the news. And we persist in avoiding news, especially political news. We are aware of some environmental news, which is hard to avoid since nature is one of the only outlets and even marginally enjoyable recreations for us.
Even if we followed the news, we like to see multiple sides of an issue. We loathe party politics. Even with positions we passionately hold (mostly related to endangered species), we seek to understand the opposition’s position. Sometimes opposing or neutral views modify our position; sometimes they reinforce our position; almost always they enhance our knowledge that contested issues tend to be complex.
We think that not following the news closely has helped us to see the big-picture a little more. One area that has given us amusement is the politicization of science.
Is the political left still apoplectic that the right ignores climate science or finds it inconclusive? They were when last we tuned in to news. The left used to decry that the right rejects science, that the right relies on the bible as its authority. Meanwhile, sea levels were rising as polar caps melted, and weather extremes were multiplying.
So the left stands for science? It occurred to us during the past year or two that the left tunes out science or changes the conversation as well when it doesn’t suit their politics. Namely, we see billboards in the rural areas of our state touting that a fetus has a beating heart as early as 18 days following conception. (Even this “fact” seems politicized; some sources put heartbeat at 3-4 weeks, some at 6 weeks.)
The left says life doesn’t begin at conception or when the heart begins to beat but when life can survive outside the mother’s womb. The right then shifted the argument to when the fetus begins to feel pain.
Do you find it as interesting as we do that each side points to science when it serves them and changes the subject when it doesn’t?
We are not choosing sides in these arguments. We are trying to demonstrate that each party uses or discards science to advance its political agendas. Just as abortion is about much more than when life begins–for example, who controls what a woman does with her body; when a fetus’s “rights” begin; etc.–climate change is about much more than the health of the planet–for example, who has access to local employment; national security via natural resource independence; etc.
Most things are more complicated than one declarative sentence, such as, “Columbus discovered America.”
If someone arrives at that conclusion via research and acknowledgement of other positions, we can probably respect their decision; that is, when we are at our most serene and functional. When we’re in a tizzy, as we have been lately, it’s hard to even accept when our nuclear family children won’t empty their lunchboxes! And that may be the point of this post, to restore some perspective to our thinking.
We have been stuck in nightmares. Last night we dreamed we were sexually abused. It is hard to survive this. It haunts us during our waking hours. Are we asleep or awake? Are we safe? Our trauma therapist had to suddenly cancel appointments this week, and she was already scheduled to be out of town next week. Our suicidal ideation has skyrocketed.
So we advocated for ourselves, emailed therapist, and now we are having an impromptu appointment today. Whew! We need it. Our internal parts are feuding.
We were walking to an errand last evening when we suffered an intense delusion. We interrupted the delusion with meditation once we realized we could intervene. Sounds like a positive development, right?
Well, our Protector parts who deliver these delusions as a means of warning us or keeping us safe from danger didn’t take too kindly to being dismissed so abruptly. So later last night, when we chose to meditate, Protective parts interrupted our meditation with anti-foundational questions that undermined our practice, sowed doubt.
Do you see how these two factions are not getting along? How they are not listening to each other? How one seeks to replace the other’s ways of operating with its own ways of operating? Sounds a lot like two opposing parties that aren’t considering each other’s perspectives.
Wow, we are making this shit up as we go; and it sounds like we might be onto something, doesn’t it?
The barrier to internal communication among our fractured selves has been the age gap. If you read our earlier post on what Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is, you may recall that most parts of our selves are stranded in time, and that time is the long-ago past: pre-verbal age to Kindergartener age for Protector parts, parts whose job is to keep us safe from predators.
It’s hard to teach cooperation, critical thinking, active listening, civil engagement to infants and dysfunctional toddlers. Is it impossible? Hopefully not. One strategy we have been working on is to grow the Protectors’ skill sets so that they effectively mature as selves to the point that they can move beyond skepticism and distrust–which are roles they have played–to also being able to see multiple sides of an issue–which is a role played by our teacher-student part. Apparently, both strategies are slow-going.
Sorry if the sudden change in direction of the post gave you some whiplash. We had no idea where we were going with it until we got there. Writing this has been immensely useful for us. And scary. If it wouldn’t be too much trouble, would you leave a comment–even something simple–so that we know you’re not judging us too harshly? Thanks!