Our ability to believe what we want to be true is almost limitless.
Once our worldview is determined, our perception immediately begins to color our reality.
Reality is truly relative. Two people with different mindsets can view the same event and perceive it completely differently.
Take my son Dawit for instance.
He loved his first American Christmas. That Santa dude was awesome.
He snuck in the house while we were asleep and left enough toys to keep us having fun for months.
But Santa isn’t real. My wife and I created the idea for him and we let him watch fanciful cartoons that reinforce the myth of Santa. But believing in Santa has benefits, so Dawit believes.
He believes so much that when we tried to explain the Tooth Fairy after he lost his first tooth that the language barrier and previously instilled Santa Claus myth colored his reality.
He doesn’t think the Tooth Fairy took his tooth from under the pillow and left him $2 – which felt like a lot even though I later discovered was below average for today’s Tooth Fairy. He thinks Santa did it.
With the difficulty he has processing daily life while learning English and all of these new customs, there is only room for one imaginary person to sneak into his room and leave presents and Santa got there first. If he had lost a tooth before last Christmas, he might have forever believed it was the Tooth Fairy driving those reindeer through the night sky on Christmas Eve.
You can see how belief colors reality when you listen to political debates as well. When a Democrat hears a good Republican speech, they get angry at all of the lies and twisting of “the truth.” Republicans react with the same outrage when a Democrat extols the virtues of one from their side of the aisle.
Don’t even get me started on the “fact” checkers who enter the game with similarly shifted starting points who proceed to tell which “facts” are true.
Facts are facts.
“There are five apples” is a fact if you look in the basket and find as many apples as you have fingers on your left hand.
Whether those apples are there because the tax and spend Democrats spent too much money to buy those five apples or if there used to be 15 apples in there but the greedy Republicans stole 10 of them to give to their wealthy friends depends on more interpretative data that can be twisted with political speeches.
Page 2 of 2 - Most people have a problem with reality. They have never created their own reality.
They depend on others to explain reality to them and find comfort in contorting facts to fit within that worldview.
A great exercise is to test everything you believe to find empirical data.
People tend to identify with a party based on one or two details with which most people in that party concur. Because there are two major parties, people are forced to squeeze their entire camel under the tent when sometimes only the nose truly belongs.
I think if a lot of Democrats and Republicans would ever watch a different television network or read different authors with an open mind, they mind find their actual beliefs weren’t quite as homogenous as they think they are today.
I bet there are a lot of people who think Santa is leaving them money for their teeth simply because they can’t broaden their world view to realize that Santa doesn’t collect teeth, the Tooth Fairy is just as imaginary as the jolly old elf and it’s really just your mom and dad taking care of all of it.
Stop trying to fit all of the facts into your partisan stance. You can try to paint the world as black and white but the only person missing all of the colors in between is you.
Kent Bush is the Augusta Gazette Publisher, a columnist and blogger for the GateHouse Media Network. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.