Looking Through the Magic Mirror
Magic mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all? We all know how this story ends—the mirror was a truthful lad, the witch hated the truth, and died attempting to avenge the lady fairer than she. As I expand on my previous, Seeing the Full Picture: The Essences Beyond Creativity, we are just a bunch of big kids trying to express our highest truth—well, until the illness of adulthood whittles away at our joy. Before we come to realize our actual value in this world, our insecurities often push us into competition against all others. And when we feel the truth within ourselves, we only see one way to combat our wavering self-worth; by taking out the competition one by one. We only take away from ourselves when we compete with others. In the beginning, the queen was a rather fair lady, if I must say so myself (oo-la la), but her beauty quickly faded to reflect her depreciating self-worth. A problem of gender standards? Yes, but I’ll touch upon that at a different time. What we struggle with most of the time is being able to see each other as true equals. It always seems that even though we say others are equal, we have a subconscious disagreement. We end up equating equality with being identical. Imagine how boring that would be. We’d probably end up finding something else new to argue about. Politics. Religion. And to some extent, even this article right now. When we feel the need to communicate a message, we think others are missing an important truth, and we struggle in frustration because it’s our only truth. We wouldn’t do that if we thought their ideas were better, now would we? How many genuinely debate ideas without some perceived feeling of inequality. Whether it is “my idea is better,” or “I won’t let my silence help you feel superior,” we have to keep feeding a part of ourselves that likes to feel… good. For so many, the magic mirror is in the background, telling us who has the fairest ideas in the land, and we rarely like what it has to say, so I ask this, what is the difference between these two statements? “You’re wrong because your ideology is *insert insult here*.” “You’re wrong because your race is *insert insult here*.” From Human Rights to Intellectual Rights One reason I am so hesitant to take a standpoint of political ideology is because of that distinct point. We have spent the past few decades learning not to pass judgment based on skin color. But we are so keen on doing so based on contrasting ideologies. What we cannot see is that much of what we define as racism isn’t that. It goes beyond the level of our skin. It is fundamental misunderstandings, value systems based on foreign ‘languages,’ and an inability to see ourselves in others. We become quick to judge an idea because it comes from the opposite side of the aisle. How is this any different than racism? And with its similarities come similar outcomes. I’d be willing to put a wager that any counterpoint you use is like the defenses of racism generations ago. They’re wrong, stupid, evil, and the list goes on. Is this not another barrier that keeps us from coming together as humanity; the equality we all want? Magic Mirror A lesser-known artistic interpretation of this idea is a song of the same name by Leon Russell. “To the sad ones, I’m unhappy.
To the losers, I’m a fool.
To the students, I’m a teacher.
With the teachers, I’m in school. Magic mirror, won't you tell me, please. Do I find myself in anyone I see?
Magic mirror if we only could Try to see ourselves as others would.” A point here comes in our belief of the mind versus our physical bodies. And that happens because we think our views are always our choice, and our environments have no say. However, this may not be so true. As we look at behavioral psychology, we notice that our environment plays a large part in who we are, and our personality traits (The Big 5) are consistent throughout our lives. We then must question our neuroplasticity, and our brain's ability to adapt is why I brought up this song. Our beliefs are fluid to help or harm us, but too many of us don’t understand it well enough to make it our strength. When we plant ourselves to various identities, we force ourselves to see truths that agree with our world view. And though we understand that applies to the ‘them,’ we forget that it’s the same for us. The idea of us versus them and how ‘they’ must change to fit our world view becomes the only way. With every fact and story, we throw, we add another reason each side can’t agree. When two worlds are so different, we forget to see ourselves in all that oppose us. You Create What You Believe We often forget that our perceptions have a substantial influence on what we believe, and this comes with two fundamental biases that all humans have: Self-Confirmation Bias: This is our ability to fit what we see into our world view. Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Like the last, it often affects our beliefs. And as we make predictions, we view the world in a way that proves it to be true. Depending on the theory, authors put several numbers on how many cognitive biases we have, from 17, 25, 52, to even 104. There is also one for being painfully aware of how biased we are and then being biased in the other direction because of it! That's more than I can fit into this post, as it is enough for a semester-long course, but it's worth being aware of. And remember, you have these biases just like everyone else. Human Imperfection As humans, we have the third guarantee in life beyond death and taxes, imperfection. We are just big, biological, and faulty machines, and each of us is filled with error codes. When we try to fix each other, it's like two broken machines trying to fix each other. There is a program that we can run to make this all work, empathy. When we base our contrasting ideologies on just facts, it's inevitable to run into endless disagreements. We must reach out and mend the differences between the world, or we will destroy ourselves. Final Thoughts The errors of the past are still a prevalent part of our society. However, they aren’t present in the same fashion they were. Racism is still a problem, not because of the same reasons. It may seem like splitting hairs, but that’s progress. It’s only after the significant discoveries that we realize how much we improved. The human condition is that of nature. It’s an endless evolution of discovering a more beautiful world. Just as the stars have condensed matter to create the elements of the physical world, we must let the differentiating pressures in society create a better ideology—not to destroy the old. Are you ready to accept the processes of debate and opposition and grow together instead of apart? Well, I am, and I hope you are too because it could make for a pretty cool world. Special Thanks! Photo by Inga Gezalian on Unsplash