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Recovering backpacker, Cornwallite at heart, political enthusiast, catalyst, writer, husband, father, community volunteer, unabashedly proud Canadian. Every hyperlink connects to something related directly or thematically to that which is highlighted.

Friday 18 July 2014

Emerging Consciousness

These biases are emotionally wired.  Some of them are learned, some of them are genetic programming, but they all exist to make us feel a certain way so as to catalyze a behaviour.  The problem is, emotional reactions are one-size-fits all, meaning they're often wrong.
My favourite example is how we might feel scared of an unwilling to touch a burn victim.  Why would that be the case?  It's likely that our limbic brain is perceiving unhealthy-looking skin that looks like something that could be contagious, like an ebola, and is encouraging us to stay away for that reason.
It's a reaction grounded in reasoning, but one not appropriate to the situation.  The same holds true for a white woman scared by a black youth on a subway, when there's really no in situ cause to validate that fear.
Homophobia is another one.
These biases are pervasive on countless levels that we're not even aware of (for the reason that our body is designed to take care of all this situational management stuff for us) - ignoring homeless people, being more interested in what attractive people have to say, disliking ideas that differ from ours or loving what a confident voice says, even if it's crap.
We make unconscious, reactive decisions all the time that we then justify consciously; it's the Vic Toews syndrome, one we are all susceptible to in differencing degrees under varying circumstances.
The only way to overcome these biases to realize that having them doesn't make us weak, or flawed, or evil.  Also, just because we feel a certain way, it doesn't mean that instinct is a good one to trust.  We have to learn to step back from our feelings - appreciate them for what they are and listen to them, but not to stop there.
This is the process of consciousness, of becoming aware of what influences our thoughts - and, at the same time, understanding what influences the thoughts of others.
A conscious society is a long way off, but I can see we're moving there in fits in spurts, even while reactive hatred and war continue to spread, like an illness.
I don't know if I have hope for us, or even our children, but we will get there.
I've got faith in that.

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