Perception, Reflection, Certainty & Conflict

It is irrelevant whether or not conflict actually exists separate from the perception of it existing.  This is a reason why being mindful of the quality of one’s mental perceptions is of utmost importance, otherwise one will be caught reacting to their own perceptions – and not necessarily reality, as is so often the case.  Conflict exists if the perception of conflict exists.

What we know doesn’t exist outside of ourselves.  Our knowledge only exists through our ability to reflect it outside of ourselves into reality.

However, you do not need to know in order to reflect.  Anyone is capable of reflection, regardless of their individual level of knowledge about a given topic or thing.  The factual accuracy of a reflection does not limit its ability to affect; indeed, it is through reflecting, then reflecting on the reflection, almost a form of meta-cognitive game, driven by the nature of our individual experience, that often leads to the most transformative experiences.

One’s ability to accurately reflect is greatly influenced by the quality of their perspective; their ability to perceive with wisdom.  It is this quality that will both provide the ability to and determine the length of time it will take to work their way through to an accurate representation of the suchness of a given situation using nothing more than their own impressions.

This is why, or another reason why, it is very important to seek to understand the limitations of our own knowledge and perceptions.  Many things that we initially perceive end up being presumed to be correct, while only being mostly true, or true in most situations.

Even in situations involving the most basic of concepts, we tend to greatly overestimate our relative knowledge.  The problem only becomes more compounded with more complex or complicated concepts, dynamics or situations.   It is quite a phenomenon to see people with less education confidently assert they know something about something because an expert decided it was so, when the expert in question would be quick to point out all the things they did not know when drawing their conclusions – hearkens to Socrates – the only thing I know for certain is how little I know.

One of the factors contributing to this misattributed sense of knowledge is a form of cognitive dissonance that most require to operate with any sense of certainty about the world; our perspectives seem to have trouble accommodating ambiguity, and would rather drive a point to incorrect certainty than to allow for uncertainty in our analysis, which is what is driving our actions.  It’s like we are constantly rounding up on the factor of our knowledge in order to operate and not be left in a puddle questioning everything we know, in light of everything we don’t.

Operationally, this is good, but it does lead to problems when our existing systems don’t properly account for the rest of humanity; other people’s experiences or feelings or what have you.  And then, lo and behold, conflict!

An unwillingness to revisit and revise our operating assumptions about the world is what drives most forms of conflict into open fighting, whether it be on the battlefield or in the living room.

It is interesting how people will get; how we give ourselves the benefit of the doubt in our own operating assumptions, while being more than willing to cast aspersions on the people we interact with.  Doesn’t matter if you are talking about your neighbour or a man who lives halfway across the world.  In many cases we would rather fight than work to come to a mutual understanding and resolve our differences – this is simply because it is easier to do so.  It is easier to annihilate all of the people you deem to be outside of ‘us’ than it is to understand and accommodate them, and to devise a system of mutual benefit.  Or, in other words, to grow the scope of inclusion, which requires a fundamental change on our part, not just the other.