Jummah Reflection: We Learn Through Observation
Jummah Mubarak, Shabbat Shalom & TGIF!
“Indeed, within the heavens and the earth are signs (ayat) for the believers.” (Qur’an 45: 3)
If there’s one thing that pure scientific and spiritual paths have in common, it’s the idea that you should spent more time quietly observing and trying to understand things than you do talking and trying to prove your own rightness.
In her book “On Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error” Kathryn Schulz writes:
“A whole lot of us go through life assuming that we are basically right, basically all the time, about basically everything: about our political and intellectual convictions, our religious and moral beliefs, our assessment of other people, our memories, our grasp of facts. As absurd as it sounds when we stop to think about it, our steady state seems to be one of unconsciously assuming that we are very close to omniscient.”
We have, at our fingertips, the single most powerful tool in the history of the world for observing human thought and behavior. Yet most of us have grabbed hold of this tool like an infant with a rattle, and use it almost exclusively to make noise that fascinates and soothes our selves.
The access we now have to observe all corners of the earth, and the enormous diversity of humanity, is an opportunity– NOT for sharing OUR views, but for listening to the views of others. It’s a chance to understand how and why our fellow humans do what they do; what contributing factors go in to making people believe so differently, despite having so many innate similarities. Not only that, but we can now do this kind of exploration in the safest possible way possible.
In order to use the internet (and social media) to our collective advantage, we need to be committed to listening, observing and engaging other people on their terms. The meme that is floating around about ‘how many people change their mind from internet arguments’ is apt. We’re all spewing opinions and rhetoric that have almost no real transformative value. The way we currently use the internet is, in fact, an exercise in collecting as many people who agree with us as possible so that our egos are bolstered.
But truth can’t be uncovered by myopia. Transformation can’t occur from a safe place. The observer can and must take risks, with the understanding that the the observer will be impacted by the observation.
Would you rather be right, or would you rather engage with the world as it is? Reality is messy. But for those who are dedicated to first observing the world and our fellow humans without our ego (collective and individual) as a lens, it is breathtakingly beautiful.
Have the courage to pierce your own veil. Have courage to explore the whole universe of thought and feeling. Some part of you might get lost, but what you gain will be so much more.
You will gain al-haqq.