The brain is a pattern finding machine. No, really, that is what it is and it is really good at it. It finds patterns in everything. That is why people love music, art, the stars, and even clouds. We find the pattern and it makes us feel good. Now what does this have to do with the title of this post? Not much you might think but then I have not given your brain enough data to find the pattern.
Like most of my posts I receive the inspiration in the blogs I follow or stumble across and this is true with this one, except that the inspiration did not come from one but two blogs. That is not were the pattern theme ends, but begins.
The first post is from a blog that I have visited many times and gotten inspiration from “A Worried Student” and a post titled “Budgeting Woes are Turning My 18 Year Old Hairs White!”. In this post it comes out he is a Muslim. The second post is from a blog I just started following “Kendall F. Person, thepublicblogger” and his post, “The Religious Exemption”. The two posts would seem to have little in common. Both are serious one drips with ethical, moral, and societal norms pushing the boundaries of polite talk, in mixed company. The other is more laid back and is about growing pains and struggling to get on with what ever life is to become.
“The Religious Exemption” tells a troubling story, the worst kind of nightmare and could or might have made a good two-hour mind numbing, for TV, true to life movie. I will not reëxamine the story just the highlight. A young couple make a health decision for their child based upon religious beliefs, and the child dies. I have left out everything else on purpose. That is the full extent of the story. The question the blogger poses is this,
“There is no denying the United States of America was founded in the belief of a deity called God, the pledge of allegiance clearly defines that ‘….one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’ * But the constitution is clear on its separation of church and state. How do we balance the two, when each of us are free to pursue the religious or scientific doctrine of our choice, before we have gone too far? When does The Religious Exemption exclude the pursuit of happiness for all?”
Now let me simplify the question. Anyone who spends time with me knows I am a big fan of simple solutions to simple questions. Hopefully Mr. Person approves or at least thinks my question has similar merit.
Can we not all just get along?
Onto “The Worried Student” – prior to his latest, or then his latest, post I did not know either is age or his religion. Neither matters, well not in the sense that it would have changed my reading, liking and commenting on his blog. I would have guessed his age to be in his mid twenties or so given the title of his blog etc. His writing is more advanced than most people his age, maybe even myself. Him being Muslim though, well, that is just not right. I mean he did not come across as Muslim. Now I know I am being prejudice here, I have my pre-conceptions of what a Muslim should sound/write like. Now before you judge me to unfairly, I do not mean I believe Muslim men to be fanatical fundamentalist whom we should be careful to associate with, I just mean he did not sound like a Muslim and he should have.
It makes me remember hearing an East Indian man, I had just met, speak for the first time, I nearly fell over. I do not know if physically my chin hit my chest but it felt like it did. He had an English accent! That is not how East Indian’s sound! Really it is not I know a lot of native East Indian’s and they sound nothing like that!
Do you understand my title and theme better now? No. Well it is coming.
The basic issue is that we believe we perceive the truth of the matter. Seeing is believing and all that. Well I am sorry to tell you that it is not so. Our brains are wired, “in the neurons of our brain” as one of my great inspirations says, to stop our mind from being overwhelmed by outside stimuli, it is a safety valve for our conscious mind. The conscious mind does not get to see the actual events, the great pattern finder, the sub-conscious mind does. Everything is about patterns; math, science, music, love, art, and yes, pre-conceptions. Our pre-conceptions, made by our sub-conscious without our consent or knowing, are used to color, mask and filter the mental picture of the our world, our reality. This more palatable whitewashed picture is what is passed to the conscious mind for our enjoyment and reaction. While we can control how we react to this aspect of our brain/mind we cannot stop it from happening.
An important point about pattern finding is that they are found in the differences not in the similarities. To illustrate hold up a piece of blank white writing, printing, paper and try to find the pattern. Non, nothing, blank, yep that’s it, no pattern, boring. Now hold up the same piece of paper after say printing this post. Now we have patterns for the mind to grasp and interpret. The paper is not full of differences actually the printing takes less than, lets say, 15% of the paper. So the paper is 85% the same and only 15% different but our brain ignores the similarities and focuses on the differences.
Wow. That is a lot to take in. If you are still with me, thank you. If you are disbelieving that is ok just keep that open mind. Stop your sub-conscious from blocking out and try to ignore the gut feeling that I am trying to lead you down the garden path. Take three deeps breaths and keep reading. I could bring up all types of cognitive science articles but you can look all that up yourselves. Typically if you are going to believe me you will and if not you will not.
There are many things most of us, all really, (but since I will have to defend that statement from others saying they are not like this, I will be gracious upfront and say most and they can exclude themselves in the few who are not) are prejudices against. Now if we take a peak at the story that Mr. Person brings forth what might we have pre-conceptions about; religion, god, Christian Science, church, state, medical care, prayer, child, beliefs, healer, death, resurrection, motherhood, fatherhood.
If we read the post by “the public blogger” and remove the judgmental words from the original author and find not the differences between us and these people but the larger part, the part that is the same. All the people not just the infant but the mother, father, and the others who tried to help. Can we not feel their pain, their sense of loss? Does not our compassion go out to all of them? A young couple has lost their son, are we yet not moved to open our hearts to them and allow their tears to stain our souls?
Why is it that we find their actions a threat to our way of life? Why is it that their suffering is of no importance? Why do we need to find fault with their belief and say yes that is the cause of our discontent?
Maybe we need to find the guilty maybe they need punishment. Oh wait, is that punishment meant to change their pre-conceptions, the thought patterns of the story’s characters so they match ours. Is not that what punishment is meant to do, rehabilitate, to make people who are not fit for our society more like us? The things that make us the same need no judgment no punishment.
Let you without sin, without blame, without prejudices; let you that are pure in heart, pure in spirit, pure in intent throw the first negative comment.
When we choose not to judge we can then choose to show compassion and love to these two young people in their time of deepest need. Can we not just get along? Yes we can, if we so choose to.
More to come
Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much. Smile!